My Life As A Vegetarian
Up until I was 19-years-old, I lived my life as a happy carnivore. I ate meat daily, just like most people do. I always preferred a plate of vegetables over a hot dog, but I never really imagined cutting it out of my life entirely. And then I read a book called Skinny Bitch, discovered what apparently really goes on in slaughter houses, and changed everything about my eating habits.
If you’ve never heard of Skinny Bitch, it’s a really popular book by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin. The authors are two strict vegans trying to educate readers about how to live a healthier lifestyle. One day I was eating bacon with breakfast, chicken for lunch and steak for dinner, and the next, I was reading a paragraph about what was found in meat in slaughterhouses. When I was finished reading, I immediately went home and announced to my family that my meat-eating days were officially over. In the span of two hours, I decided to cut red meat and chicken out of my life for good.
I still eat fish sometimes, so I am technically a pescetarian and not a vegetarian. However, life as a pescetarian is still pretty difficult. For one thing, I never knew how many people had opinions about what I ate until I stopped eating meat. For another thing, I never realized how many things have meat in them. Here’s my story of what life is like when you cut out red meat and chicken…
When I first told my friends and family I was no longer eating meat, almost everyone rolled their eyes. My friends snorted and said, “yeah, let’s see how long this lasts.” My brother sighed, and said, “You just have to make things more difficult for everyone, now don’t you?”. Most people just look shocked and asked why I would ever do that, because it’s the stupidest thing they had ever heard of. I didn’t realize that what I choose to eat is anyone else’s business, but apparently everyone thought their opinion should be heard.
No matter what everyone said, my decision to change my diet was an easy one for me. I have an almost unhealthy love for animals, and I didn’t like what I was hearing about how they were being killed just so we could eat them (and please don’t sarcastically tell me that fish have feelings too, because I’ve heard that one a million times already). I also have a lot of stomach issues, and cutting out meat cut out tons of stomach aches. Plus, I was never a huge fan of meat. Turkey freaked me out, I was extremely picky with what kind of chicken I would eat, and the only red meat I actually enjoyed was an over-cooked piece of steak. Not to mention the fact that I stopped eating fast food entirely in high school (yes, believe it or not, I have never eaten Taco Bell).
But even though I love this decision, it’s still been really hard. Whenever I go to parties, I usually have only one or two options about what I can eat. And contrary to what some people believe, I don’t enjoy asking the host to go out of their way to make me something different — it’s uncomfortable, but what choice do I have? Going out to eat means examining the menu and getting a beyond annoyed look from my waiter when I ask them about ingredients. And let me tell you — finding a good 3 A.M. drunk food is a lot harder when it doesn’t involve the fast food option.
I think the worst thing about this diet choice is hearing what other people have to say. I never fully realize just how rude someone is until I tell them that I don’t eat meat. People I don’t even know very well have no problem telling me I’m an “idiot” for doing this. It’s been five years, and I still have to deal with the BS from a lot of my family and friends most of the time. I have never approached someone eating a steak and lectured them about it, so why do people insist on making fun of me for eating a veggie burger?
Despite all of the annoyances, I love my choice — I feel so much better about what I’m putting in my body. I’ve learned how to cook healthier — at first, I relied mostly on pasta, but I’ve discovered so many new foods I never would have tried otherwise. I honestly rarely miss eating meat, and I can’t see myself going back to it.