Why I Gave Up Meat and Dairy This Past Summer

Pizza, mac and cheese, burgers, steak, pastries… Meat and dairy have been my true loves for nearly my whole life. A sandwich without cheese was incomplete, every cup of coffee needed milk, and a medium-rare steak was the best meal in existence. Essentially, animal products kept my world spinning. Fast forward a few years, and now I’m drinking an iced Americano while scarfing down a plate of Sriracha tofu scramble.

What changed?

I always considered myself pretty politically involved. I care deeply about social justice, voted as soon as I legally could, and I keep up with the latest news. But there was one glaring political subject that I never thought too deeply about—climate change. I knew it existed and was an issue, but what was I doing in response to it? Of course, there’s little-to-nothing an individual person can do when the biggest perpetrators of carbon emissions are large corporations, but the nihilistic stance of saying “we’re all doomed at this point, so it doesn’t matter” didn’t sit right with me, so I started making changes in my own lifestyle.

Credit: World Resources Institute

Eating plant-based food wasn’t the first change I made, but it was probably the biggest. Not only was it the hardest change to make, but it also had the most impact on me outside of my quest to become a greener person. I was cooking more often, binging less often, and felt so much more refreshed and light during the day.

Some changes were gradual. The switch from an iced latte with extra milk to a black iced Americano was of my own volition before I even thought about the consequences of my animal-based diet. The reduction of cheese in my daily meals was more for myself than anything else; decreasing my dairy intake did wonders for my weight and skin (and by extension, mental health). Because of this, the transition to a plant-based diet wasn’t quite as hard as I expected it to be. I definitely can also thank my Korean upbringing for my relatively easy adjustment period. I was already familiar with and liked tofu, enjoyed plenty of dishes that didn’t contain dairy, and had a love for plain sticky rice.

Credit: The New York Times

Will making these changes have any real impact on the environment? Of course not. We live in a world dominated by capitalists who hold the ability to stop climate change but choose to use said power to exacerbate it.

I am at peace with the fact that I’m at least doing something, and I hope this can be my first step towards joining the movement to enact real change.

 

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