To Meat or Not to Meat?

In July 2017 I went vegetarian. I watched the film Okja one night and the next day I stopped eating meat and stayed that way until January 2019. (That being said, I would definitely recommend giving Okja a watch.)

This past winter, I found that I was always cold and always tired and knew something needed to change. I focused in on my diet. For some background, I work out about three days a week and have to wake up early almost every morning because I am on the rowing team. On top of school work and attempting a social life, it means that I am usually pretty fatigued. It got to the point where being a vegetarian just wasn’t sustainable for me.

This has just been my experience, but there are many great things about the diet as well. Here are some things to think about when considering cutting meat out of your diet.

Image source: Chantal Garnier

The cons:

To succeed on this diet you must be ready to take the time out of your day to cook. One reason I chose to eat meat again was honestly because I didn’t like to cook enough, or I at least didn’t have time. I wouldn’t eat all day simply because I wouldn’t have anything around to eat. I found myself loading up on carbs most days, then getting the rush and crash that follows.

You have to be creative with what you eat. You need to be able to get your protein into your diet somehow. For most people, that means throwing some chicken or ground beef into a dish, but when you have to stick to beans and tofu on a vegetarian diet, things become much harder. It took me a while to learn to season and cook with these new kinds of proteins.

You also need to make sure you are getting all the vitamins you are missing when you cut out meat. Another reason I stopped being vegetarian was because my levels were way off. In the fall of 2018, I got some blood work done and saw that I was very anemic and was low in B-12.

The pros:

Being vegetarian is a much more environmentally friendly lifestyle. Livestock raising is one of the heaviest water and land usage agricultural industries, not to mention the production of methane and other animal waste the has negative impacts on the environment.

There is also the ethical dilemma. While we are omnivores and it is healthy for us humans to consume meat; animals were not meant to be bred and slaughtered on such a large industrial scale. I personally have nothing against eating meat, but I didn’t want to support the industrial way we go about processing animals here in the USA. It was fulfilling to know that I wasn’t feeding into that industry.

When done right, being vegetarian can make some people feel much healthier than having meat in their diet. When you are getting the proper protein and vitamins, you can feel amazing. For myself, this feeling would come and go. If you are willing to put in the time and effort to prepare the proper meals you need, then this can be a great and healthy option.

Image source: Brooke Lark