The Life of a Weekday Vegetarian

Hi, my name is Erin, and about three weeks ago I decided to make a (semi) major change in my diet — I decided to stop eating meat, for the most part. Essentially, a weekday vegetarian is someone who goes most of the week without eating any meat, but doesn’t cut it out of their diet entirely. Despite the name, you don’t necessarily have to pick the weekends as your meat days. I have taken to choosing about two to three days a week to eat meat, and eat it with one or two meals for each of those days. When I initially made the decision, I thought it was going to be nearly impossible. I’ve grown up eating meat at least once a day, and in my house a steak dinner was a staple. Yet, even coming to college lessened my meat intake a lot — eating steak or burgers isn’t always feasible with apartment living, ya know?

Now, I bet you’re wondering why I picked such a random endeavor. Well, the truth is that it happened gradually. Over the past year, I’ve become more informed, and more passionate, about the environmental issues that currently face us. I bought the metal straw, the reusable grocery bags — I even found some silicon ziploc-like bags on Amazon. Even with these smaller changes, I still felt guilty about my personal impact on the planet. I knew from my own research that meat production is a major contributor to global warming, with beef being the worst. So, at first I made the switch from eating ground beef on the reg to eating ground turkey. Here is where I plug the heck out of ground turkey — it tastes great, is healthier for you, is better for the environment AND it’s cheaper than ground beef! I realized after making the switch that I was really adding meat out of habit more than anything. So, I decided to eliminate meat from ~most~ of my diet. That being said, you can bet you will find me at the Union or The Great Dane enjoying a burger or some chicken tenders every now and again.

I think one of the misconceptions about making life adjustments for the sake of the environment is that you have to do them in absolutes. That’s simply not the case. Even picking one day a week not to eat meat makes a major difference. There is even data showing that one family eliminating one weekly steak is the equivalent of taking a car off the road for three months. If the entire US magically decided to go without meat or cheese for just one day a week, it would be equivalent to taking 7.6 million cars off the road. People truly don’t realize just how much of an impact their own choices have on the world. Starting small is the perfect way to try out a new way of eating, I promise it isn’t as hard as it seems!

I’ve only been living life as a ~weekday vegetarian~ for about three weeks now. However, I’ve seen tangible change in that short amount of time. I’ll admit, at first, as my body adjusted to the newly heightened intake of veggies, beans and other new sources of vitamins, it didn’t feel great. I generally felt pretty bloated as my body learned to break down all the new stuff. That being said, I did notice myself making significantly healthier choices all day, not just at times when I was replacing meat. I started trying new things like hummus (the texture had always freaked me out but I have to say it’s actually v good) and black bean pasta (weird, I know, but I love it) in an effort to get the nutrients I used to get from meat. I also found myself structuring my meals differently; they went from being dominated by carbs with a dash of veggies to being dominated by greens and healthier alternatives to my old favs. I started actually taking the time to cook a meal, even if it meant getting up earlier, instead of eating things that were more convenient.

I’ve loved the balance this new lifestyle has given me. I have some more peace of mind knowing I’m not perpetually contributing to the warming of the planet (as much), and I still have the freedom to eat the things I grew up with and love. Finding the right balance is all it takes to make a change like this. Whether you choose to eat meat six days a week, one day a week, or not at all, literally any reduction you make has an impact. The one downfall I, along with my bank account, have noticed is that healthy food is super expensive! But, the explanation of the causes and effects of THAT issue is a story for another article.

So, remember your impact, and don’t be afraid to adjust your lifestyle a bit! It can be scary but with some practice it will become your new normal!