So I’ve been vegetarian now for about four years. In these four years, one thing I have found is that people feel the need to apologize to me: They apologize for eating meat in front of me; they apologize for asking why I don’t eat meat; they even apologize to me for being vegetarian, as if it’s some terminal disease I’ll never recover from.
I’m here to say that 1). I am in no way offended when people eat meat in front of me, 2). I am happy to give you my reasons for being a vegetarian, and 3). being vegetarian is not something to be ashamed of – it is simply a life choice that I have made, and I’m sticking to it.
The last two states I’ve lived in are not the most friendly toward vegetarians. I mean, Iowa is the primary pig-producing state in the nation, and Wyoming is Wyoming, the Wild West which homes more cows than people. Vegetarians are like foreigners here – in fact, since I’ve moved to Dayton I have yet to meet another one. That being said, I’d like to illustrate to all you lovely people that vegetarians are just normal people. We’re not aliens or monsters or terminally ill. We simply like veggies a lot.
So without further ado I give you the Top 10 Reasons I’m Vegetarian.
1. I don’t like meat. This is the main reason I am vegetarian. A lot of people find this hard to believe, but it’s true. It’s a texture and taste thing – it just isn’t something I care to consume. Before I was vegetarian, the only type of meat I really ate was the processed variety – lunch meat, pepperoni, sausage, etc., which are all high in sodium and fat and have essentially no nutritional value. And even then I didn’t enjoy eating it all that much – it was more a convenience thing than anything. It was what was being served, so I ate it.
2. Plant-based diets are heart-healthy. It is much easier to control your saturated fat and cholesterol intake when you are eating a plant-based diet. In America, heart-disease is the leading cause of death and obesity is rampant. Because vegetarians swap out high-fat and high-cholesterol foods for foods high in fiber, antioxidants, and other nutrients (beans, fruits, fresh vegetables), the risk for cardiovascular disease goes significantly down. Furthermore, since I don’t eat meat, my main source for fats are the heart-healthy, unsaturated kinds, such as avocado, olive oil, and nuts.
3. Plant-based diets are good for your digestive system. Without giving you too much information, I can tell you that since being a vegetarian my digestive system in general has become much more healthy and regular. It’s called fiber, people, and it’s a good thing.
4. I feel more energized after I eat a lot of fresh veggies are fruit. Many fresh fruits and veggies are filled with antioxidants and complex carbohydrates, which improves brain function and enhances energy. Furthermore, the absence of artery-clogging saturated fats from animal products allows your bloodstream to get the maximum amount of oxygen it requires, leaving you more energized.
5. It’s easier to eat healthy at parties or get-togethers as a vegetarian. Let’s face it: social time in our culture revolves around food. Most of this food is ultra-unhealthy, like pepperoni pizza or hot wings or popcorn shrimp. Party food is simply not for people who are trying to be health-conscious. If you’re a vegetarian, most of the bad stuff is already off the table, which 1) gives you a great excuse to say no to it, and 2) leaves room for better (read: healthy) food.
6. Being vegetarian has made me a better cook. I already mentioned before that Iowa and Wyoming are not states that embrace vegetarianism to the fullest. That being said, going out to eat at a restaurant isn’t really an enjoyable thing for me anymore because there is hardly anything I can eat on the menu. This isn’t because I’m picky – it’s because our world is obsessed with meat. Since becoming vegetarian I have learned how to cook delicious meals that are healthy – better than anything I could get at most restaurants. Even Grant enjoys the vegetarian dishes I make for dinner (don’t worry, I still feed him plenty of meat).
7. Being vegetarian has expanded my horizons when it comes to food and has forced me to try new things. Before I was vegetarian I liked trying new foods, but I had my limits. For instance, some childhood experiences scarred me against certain foods (brussel sprouts, spaghetti squash, etc), and I didn’t even think about eating them as I got older because I assumed they were disgusting. Now that I know how to cook experimentally and love all things plant-based, I’ve retried these foods I was prejudiced against and can now list them as favorites.
8. I like animals. I’m not a PETA person by any means, but I’ve seen, up close and personal, the cows that turn into burgers…and that just makes me really sad. Have you ever looked into a cow’s big brown eyes? I’m not saying it’s evil to eat them or anything (after all, God did put animals on this planet for a purpose) but I figure why eat them when I can eat other, less-animate things instead?
9. Animal confinements are filthy and inhumane. Let me reiterate that I am not a PETA person; however, I am against factory farming. I have driven past a hog confinement. For MILES I could not breathe because the stench was so bad. And that’s what people are putting in their bodies. The same goes for chicken confinements and cow confinements. They stuff thousands of animals into windowless sheds, without room to run or graze or be free; in large hog confinements up to hundreds can die in just one day. Animal confinements are disease ridden, but they are this country’s biggest supplier of meat.
10. Lastly and most importantly, I love how I feel when my body is getting the nutrients it needs. For me, it is simply much easier to get these nutrients without meat, and after four years of being vegetarian I don’t know how I could go back to being a carnivore.
For more resources on vegetarianism, read these articles: