The Biggest Change I Ever Made

Up until the first day of college this year, I don’t know if I had gone a single day in my life without eating meat, or ever limited my diet in any way.  And yet, spur of the moment over the summer, my friends challenged me to try a diet of my choice for the first month of college.  I chose vegetarianism, thinking that while I wouldn’t love not eating meat, it couldn’t be that hard.  I was also certain that on October 1st, I would go right back to eating meat.

It’s December now, and I’m still not eating meat.  I’ve stopped saying “It’s just… I don’t eat meat… right now” and transitioned into saying “I’m a vegetarian!”  This is the biggest lifestyle change I’ve ever made, and it’s been an amazing experience for me.

Choosing what you want to eat is a deeply personal choice, and this article is meant in no way to be an attack on anyone for their dietary decisions.  Rather, I’d like to talk about why I decided to turn a one month experiment into something I’m doing indefinitely.

Firstly, vegetarianism is a lot easier than I thought it would be.  I imagined that I would constantly be turning down food I wanted for food that made me sad.  Instead I quickly realized that the dining halls at William and Mary do have a good deal of very solid vegetarian options, and to be honest, the meat options have never looked very appealing.  Eating out can be a little bit harder, given that I know what I’m “missing out” on, but most restaurants do really have a lot of delicious vegetarian options (that are often cheaper than the carnivorous dishes)!

Second, being a vegetarian has forced me to think a lot more about what food I’m eating.  While I certainly am not the healthiest eater, or even very close to a consistent healthy decision maker, taking a moment to think about what I’m eating has enabled me to at least maintain a somewhat healthy diet in the face of the scary college buffet.  Thinking about what I’m eating in order to avoid meat is has been just the right encouragement for me to make at least a few healthy choices every once in a while.  This certainly might not work for everyone, but I’m the sort of person who tends to just eat without thinking, so oddly enough, limiting my choices has been an unexpected motivation to make better choices.

Finally, not eating meat (or reducing your consumption of it, particularly red meat) is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint.  It’s hard to live a completely green life, but not eating meat has been a tangible way for me to help the world I live in.

Going vegetarian has quite surprisingly been one of the best parts of college for me.  It’s something I never saw myself doing, and especially not enjoying much.  I am fully aware that being able to choose what food I can eat is an amazing privilege, and I would never want anyone to feel guilty about whatever they choose to eat.  The lesson I’ve learned from is to be open to trying to new things, be it a meatless diet, or anything else you never thought you could do, because it just might give you a great deal of happiness!

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