In about a month, I will be approaching the one-year anniversary of when I became vegetarian. This major life adjustment has not only been trial and error, but also a great learning experience. I say “major life adjustment” because it kind of was for me. I grew up eating chicken, beef and even deer meat, so when I mentioned to my family that I was no longer eating meat, I got a lot of mixed reactions.
For starters, my grandma still calls me a vegan no matter how many times my mom and I explain the difference to her. Maybe one day, Grandma. My dad goes hunting and fishing and has always provided his own meat for my family, so he was probably the most confused when I decided to change my diet but also one of the most supportive! Finally, my mom is always willing to try a plant-based meal with me, buy me plant-based cookbooks and will even cook me a totally separate dish at times when my sister and she are eating something else! [bf_image id="q5cbgt-1fa2c0-l7u31"] There’s no doubt that I have support, but that doesn’t mean that this transition has always been easy! I still crave Chick-Fil-A if I smell it, I sometimes wish I could add chicken to my salad, and I feel extra high maintenance having someone other than my mom make me a totally separate meal than what the majority of the group is having. However, I have found some amazing replacements for the foods I used to enjoy like chicken nuggets (hello Morning Star Chik’n Nuggets) and also learned to cook things I never tried before (shoutout to my friend, Anna, for FaceTiming me the first time I tried making tofu).
One thing that I am still learning is that there is a difference between replacing a food group and cutting it out altogether. It is really important to me to still find ways to get protein in my diet and essential vitamins like B12 and Omega 3. The good news is that there are more resources now than ever on how to eat a plant-based diet - which is awesome!
I started following a lot more “influencers” that ate mostly plant-based diets to get easy recipe ideas, tips on how to prepare certain foods and also restaurant recommendations. There are a lot of places that are beginning to incorporate vegetarian or vegan options on their menu which makes ordering less of a hassle. Besides influencers, I also got a ton of great advice and recommendations from some of my friends who are also vegan or vegetarian like my friend Anna whom I mentioned earlier.
One year down and a lifetime to go! I love being vegetarian and also knowing that I am helping to make a positive impact on the environment. According to the Vegetarian Society, “eating a veggie diet means 2.5x less carbon emissions than a meat diet” and by eating vegetarian for a year, you are saving the same amount of emissions as taking a car off the road for 6 months. I know not everyone is totally ready to stop eating bacon at breakfast or a hamburger at a cookout but something as small as trying “Meatless Mondays” can have a positive impact.
For more information and resources on vegetarianism, you can visit https://vegsoc.org