The Life of a Vegetarian

I have been a vegetarian for a little over four years now and I can honestly say, without any ulterior motives, that it is the best decision I have ever made. Throughout the last few years, I have gained insight into other people’s personalities as well as my own based on the way in which others react to my choice of being vegetarian. Before I get into it, I can sum up my experience as something that has taught me an impressive level of self-control and discipline.

Photo by Sabina Fratila

Since childhood, due to my upbringing and the way I grew up with lots of pets, I’ve been incredibly fond of animals. However, becoming a vegetarian always seemed like this far-fetched idea in my head that could only be something I aspired to be, but never could become; this was because of the false way in which I was informed about the things my body needed in order to grow and develop. Unfortunately, until quite recently, it was believed that the protein we receive from animal meat is pretty much the best and only way to sustain our body. As I got a little older and became more capable of making my own decisions, I decided, after some research and discussions with a vegan friend of mine, that not only was this information false but also that I was willing to go through any challenge in order to adapt to this new lifestyle. 

If I were to pinpoint what the most frustrating aspect of being a vegetarian would be, I’d have to say it’s people’s reactions. My inability to consume meat, my having to be around and smell meat, or even my decision to not wear animal skin, do not even begin to qualify as challenging in comparison to the endless criticism I have had to face and defend myself against. 

Photo via Unsplash

It began with my parents’ concern about my health, followed by my family’s surprise and inability to comprehend the strange decision I had made; my Persian, more traditional, religious grandparents had a hard time grasping the notion that I would be changing the diet that they have never once questioned and that defines our entire culture. But I must admit, people my age were the hardest group of people to deal with. Other than a small group of my supportive friends who congratulated me and told me they were inspired by my decision, most others, including those that weren’t even my friends, to this day, reply with the same five to six number of unamusing questions and comments on repeat. 

“Don’t plants have feelings too?”

“Aren’t you eating the food of animals?”

“You know the animals are going to die anyway so being a vegetarian won’t change anything.”

… and so on… all to which I have taught myself to grow indifferent to because I believe in the cause that I am standing up for. And in many ways, becoming a vegetarian has become way more than just saving animals.

Photo by Claudio Biesele

It has taught me that to a certain degree I do not like to conform to society’s norms and that I am not so easily influenced or pushed around by opinionated people. It has taught me that sometimes people become offensive about certain issues because of underlying psychological reasons or because they personally wish that they were doing something to help but ultimately feel powerless. I have not only stopped eating and wearing animals but have also begun to stand up for animals by donating and signing petitions related to animal rights; so in many ways, I have also become a more compassionate and charitable person, even though I still have a very long way to go. I have learned that by becoming a vegetarian I am also positively impacting the environment, which I care very deeply about. I only wish that in the same way, I have always refrained from imposing my eating habits onto those that eat meat, others would do the same with me.