Today is a two-post wonder day because today is my 4 month anniversary of being vegetarian. It all started on February 14 when I was transitioning to being vegan for 40 days because I pretend to be a traditional, rule following Catholic at least once a year. As laughable my Catholic following might be, my vegan following was even more so laughable. I have never heard more questions in my life about it, specifically from people ages 14-18. Being vegan is certainly not for everyone because, contrary to popular belief, everything has some form of animal product/byproduct in it. Marshmallows have gelatin, most crackers have milk, whey is milk, anchovies and eggs reign supreme in most salad dressing, and definitely don’t forget about honey (yeah, honey is not vegan).
All kidding aside, being vegan for forty days was incredibly challenging and it is not for everyone. After the forty days were up, I transitioned back to being vegetarian, and I haven’t strayed ever since. The best part is that my family accepts the lifestyle change – they sometimes even embrace it. It has inspired my mom to cook with way more vegetables than ever before, while maintaining some knowledge of the amount of butter and salt she adds to things (but some habits are not easily broken … like nail-biting).
When asked “why,” I often give a well-rehearsed response, likely containing some of the following:
Vegetarianism, while eliminating a protein that is standardized by the American diet, positively supports a healthier lifestyle. With family genetics that lead to cardiovascular disease, prostate cancer, diabetes, and more, a vegetarian diet dramatically decreases my overall risk for these conditions. Additionally, with the advent of heavily modified foods (both hormonally and conditionally), I have decreased the exposure to unexpected hormones, pesticides, mercury and more simply by removing poultry, meat, and fish from my diet.
And the above is very true. I have seen a dramatic change in my health: increased metabolism, decreased weight, decreased stomach issues, and more. Yes; much of my change over was done for the sake of health, but I would be lying if I didn’t mention something about the environment.
“The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that roughly 80 percent of ammonia emissions in the U.S. come from animal waste” Besides just the emissions, the actual cost to feed, treat, care for (properly) an animal is costly. With global weather change and an increased risk for infectious diseases, a switch to a plant-centered diet is essential.
Please note that I’m not vegan. I eat eggs (organic, free range), milk (organic) and milk byproducts. If anything, veganism taught me to be aware of what I eat. That is the message of this post: know what you eat. Be aware of what is in the foods that you eat, in the McDonald’s you scarf down, and in the “enhanced” chicken you consume. The title – I speak for the trees – accurately defines the premise of this post. I’m not forcing anything upon you or saying that what you do is wrong. If you eat bacon, have a juicy steak, or love some good deer, fine. That’s your choice. My choice is to be vegetarian – to live life away from that. All I ask is that you consider your food choices. Think before you dine.