Why I Went Vegetarian: An Environmental and Health Standpoint

During my freshman year, I was challenged to break out of my comfort zone through a Personal Development Project for one of my courses. Whether it was through attending churches different than our own religion or doing unique service projects, we were told to break through our normal boundaries. For my project, I challenged myself to be a vegetarian for a month.

I ABSOLUTELY HATED IT.

I felt exhausted, constantly hungry, and I was gaining weight. I finished out the month, yet promised myself I would never go meatless again. As soon as the clock hit midnight, I ordered wings and bacon covered fries. It wasn’t until another month passed with eating meat, I realized my stomach was constantly in pain. I decided to give meat up AGAIN, but this time I was going to do it the right way.

I promised myself to not have a carb-based diet, eat more vegetables and fruits, and limit my dairy intake. It has now been a year and a half since I made that promise and I never plan to end my cruelty-free lifestyle. Due to living this lifestyle right, I have lost 25 pounds, am less bloated, and eat less due to eating healthier, filling options.

So, what made me go vegetarian after my first horrid month?

I care about the environment.

My biggest reason for going vegetarian was because I wanted to impact the environment in a positive way. I know one person may not make a huge difference, but I wanted to know I was doing my part. How does the meat industry impact the environment? According to the journal, Scientific American, a lifecycle analysis confirmed that the production and distribution of 20 common animal products found that red meat is responsible for 10 to 40 times as many greenhouse gas emissions as common vegetables and grains.

A veggie diet is proven to improve health.

Many Americans suffer from cardiovascular disease and diabetes among other ailments. My family is no exception with the risk of diabetes and heart problems dating back many years. According to George Washington University School of Medicine, a vegetarian diet can decrease your likelihood of developing diabetes and help manage the disease if you already have it. Also, according to the James Cook University Skin Cancer Research Clinic, a vegetarian diet is rich in antioxidants, which lowers one’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

I am getting all my nutrients.

It’s a common myth that many vegetarians are iron deficient and lacking in protein. Yet, as someone who was being watched for anemia in high school, I have seen my iron levels increase after taking part in this diet. The American Dietetic Association agrees, saying that a well-designed vegetarian diet is healthy for all stages of life. This includes infants, the elderly, and even athletes!

While many dismiss vegetarianism, it is a healthy lifestyle that improves the lives of those that make this commitment-- and trust me, I have heard all the jokes but it doesn’t change my mind,. Challenge yourself in life because who knows what benefits you may find!