Why I Became A Vegetarian

The Benefits I Have Gained from Vegetarianism

I will not pretend to support the meat industry but I am not going to put others down who do choose that diet.

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This August marks three years since I first became a vegetarian. While this topic is somewhat controversial and sometimes leaves people feeling targeted due to their eating habits, I wanted to note that this article is not about reprimanding omnivores or all the reasons why eating meat is bad for you. Instead, I want to talk about all the good things vegetarianism has done for me and the positive impact it has made in my life.

I decided to become a vegetarian (or at least try it out) during the summer of 2015. I came back from my academic summer program in Cambridge, England having watched multiple documentaries and having met several people who chose the vegetarian or vegan lifestyle. It didn't seem too challenging and I wanted to see if I could handle it even for a few weeks. A little backstory–– I was a burger connoisseur prior to becoming a vegetarian. I LOVED burgers and would have them on all our family vacations. Obviously, my parents were surprised when I came home wanting to cut that out of my life completely.

However, once I started reducing my meat intake I noticed some huge changes in my life and in how my body felt. In order to address all the benefits I have observed, I wanted to write a list in chronological order (the order in which I started to notice the benefits since first becoming a vegetarian):

1. Lack of a guilty conscience

This benefit was almost immediate. After doing extensive research and educating myself on the meat industry, I was pretty horrified at the way we treat animals and all the chemicals we put in our food. The simplest way to do my part in ending these inhumane practices was to stop supporting the industry. By not buying meat at restaurants or in the grocery store, I stopped supporting the huge corporations who govern our food industry. The relief of my guilty conscience was significant and has made me feel better about the impact my life is making on this earth.

2. Weight loss

After a few months of no meat, I realized I had lost weight. Maybe it was because I was still getting used to preparing hearty high-calorie vegetarian meals but cutting out meat definitely reduced my saturated fats and total calorie intake each day. Now as I have become better at meal-prep my weight is more consistent but I have still kept the weight off that I lost at the beginning. I lost about 5-10 lbs, which helped change my physical body composition and my mindset too. I became much more comfortable in my own skin.

3. Better digestive system

I won't go into too much detail here but becoming a vegetarian has detoxed my digestive system. Every meal I eat feels comfortable in my stomach. I rarely leave a restaurant feeling too full and my risk for food poisoning is much lower.

4. More energy

This benefit took a little longer to appear but my energy levels are much more consistent throughout the day than they used to be. My blood sugar levels are more stable and I feel like I have higher energy levels than I did before. I love being able to keep moving for longer because I get so much more done in one day without feeling sluggish or tired mid-afternoon.

5. Increased happiness

Becoming a vegetarian had a ripple effect on other aspects of my life. I started exercising more and prioritized my mental and spiritual health. After extending compassion to animals by no longer supporting the industry that abuses them, I began to make more conscience decisions to extend compassion in other situations as well. As a result, I am happier and healthier both physically and mentally.

6. A more creative relationship with food

Vegetarianism forced me to be more creative when it comes to putting together a balanced meal. A healthy omnivore typically has a protein source (chicken, beef, fish etc.), a carb source (rice, potatoes, pasta), and a serving of vegetables in one meal. However, once you take out the protein source, a huge amount of filling calories are cut out of the meal. In an effort to keep myself full and my protein levels up, I have to get creative. I have learned so much about what foods complement each other and what combinations keep me full for the longest amount of time.

7. Growing number of friends and family who share my diet

Since going to college last August, I have met so many people who share my diet preferences. Vegetarianism and veganism is not as rare as I thought. Bonding over our shared diet and the reasons we chose it has been a great way to get to know some of my friends.

8. I get to eat so many carbs!

A huge plus! I eat a diet that is high-carb and I don't gain weight like many people would expect. Vegetables are comprised of mainly carbs, vitamins, and a little protein. I consume a lot of vegetables, rice, pasta, and bread. But none of it ever affects me negatively because my body is used to the carb intake in the form of a plant-based diet.

9. A higher level of education about the food industry and nutrition labels

I can tell you exactly how many calories is in a serving of peanut butter and I know what brand of granola bars contains the least amount of sugar. I also know what restaurant chains to avoid and which corporations are the leaders in animal abuse. The knowledge I have gained while transitioning to a vegetarian lifestyle has allowed me to make informed decisions when spending money on food and choosing what items to consume.

10. My long-term exercise goals have been more successful

I have only noticed this benefit more recently after three years without meat. My exercise goals that I set a long time ago are beginning to be successful. While this is not all down to my diet (the work I do in the gym is hugely important too), I feel faster, stronger, and in general, fitter, than ever before. The energy increase combined with healthy, informed eating has made my workouts way more effective.

Of course, there is always more that I could do to support the causes vegetarianism aids. However, as with most change, I believe the best way to make an effective difference is by starting small and then gradually building on that foundation. While I have thought about veganism, I decided to start slowly. I make an effort to reduce my dairy consumption as much as possible while not being strict about it yet.

I will not pretend to support the meat industry but I am not going to put others down who do choose that diet. While I advocate reducing your meat consumption, I would never force my beliefs on another person. However, I encourage you to look into making changes in your life that can bring about unexpected benefits similar to the ones vegetarianism has brought me.

Cover Image Credit:

kaboompics.com

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How To Play 'New Girl's' True American Drinking Game

"It's 75% drinking, 20% Candy Land, and the floor is molten lava."
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I think it's fair to say that anyone who watches "New Girl" knows about True American. This crazy, nonsense drinking game which pops up every so often throughout the seasons and first introduced in season one, episode 20.

The game, as described by "New Girl" character and fan-favorite Schmidt, is 75% drinking game and 20% Candy Land with a floor of molten lava.

The point of the game is for players to navigate through the Candy Land-like spaces to the "castle," which is a table in the center of the room that holds beer "pawns" and the "king" bottle. The first person to reach and sip from the bottle wins.

SEE ALSO: 15 Things "New Girl" Fans Know to Be True

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Here's how to play:

Step #1: Prepare the "castle"

First, set up your "castle." The castle is made up of beer "pawns" and the "king," a bottle filled with the alcohol of your choice.

The bottle should be in the middle of the table, surrounded by four lines of beer pawns. There is no exact number of beers necessary for each line of beer pawns. Choose any amount of beers that seems appropriate for the amount of players.

Step #2: Set up spaces

Set up spaces using pillows, chairs or any other objects players will be able to stand on. Place an equal amount of spaces around the table. You'll want about 5-8 spaces on each side, depending on the size of the room you're playing in.

Only four of these spaces should reach the castle, lining up with the parade of beer "pawns" and allowing players to take a beer pawn from the castle. For example, in the photo above, each of the chairs touch a corner of the table at the end of the line of beer pawns. Therefore, these are two of the four special spaces that allow players to take a beer. Unlike the pillows pictured, which are just regular spaces that the players can use to move around.

Step #3: Pick teams

Teams are optional. To pick teams, all of the players will place a certain number (1 to 5) of fingers against their forehead on the count of three.

Any players who hold up the same number are a team. Unmatched players can team up as needed or simply pair up with the person standing closest to them.

Step #4: Begin

Begin with a shotgun "tip-off" to determine which player goes first.

The winner of this shotgunning contest will yell, "One, two, three...JFK!" to announce the official beginning of the game. All players will enthusiastically respond, "FDR!" then quickly grab a beer pawn from the castle and run to any space they wish to start at, excluding for the four special spaces that reach the castle.

Step #5: Make moves

The winner of the shotgunning contest has earned the first turn. From then on, the order of turns will move in a clockwise rotation. During each turn, the player will move one space toward the castle and choose to play one of the following mini-games.

Mini-game No. 1: The player whose turn it is will count to three then all players will place a certain number (1-5) of fingers on their forehead. Any player who selects a number no one else selected can move ONE space.

Mini-game No. 2: The player whose turn it is will recite the beginning of a famous American quote. The first player to complete the quote can move TWO spaces.

Mini-game No. 3: The player whose turn it is will name two famous American people, places, or things. The first player to identify what the two have in common can move THREE spaces.

For example, say it's your turn. You will move one space then choose one of the three mini-games. You and all of the players will participate in that game, and the winner will move accordingly. After this, your turn is over and it's the next player's turn (in the original clockwise rotation).

Step #6: "Play on, playa."


Continue playing by these rules until one lucky winner reaches the bottle and sips from its royal glass.

The bottle cannot be opened until every last pawn is removed from the castle. Any players who fail to keep at least one beer in hand, who accidentally end up with more than three beers in hand, or who touch the lava are immediately disqualified. Disqualified players can rejoin the game by shotgunning a beer.

Congratulations!

You are now able to impress all of your "New Girl"-loving friends with knowledge of the workings of the epic True American drinking game. Know your limits, drink responsibly, and enjoy!

Cover Image Credit: i.amz.mshcdn.com

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'Oh, You're A Vegan?'

When I tell people I'm vegan, people give me that exasperated look.

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When I first decided to try and become vegan, I got a lot of mixed results. Some people were extremely for it, while other people looked at me like I had gone off the deep end. After a while and even now, I like to play a game of guessing what reaction I will get from people when I tell them about my dietary habits. Unlike a lot of other people who decided to go vegan for the ethical reasons, I kind of fell into it based on me realizing that half the stuff I was putting into my body was making me want to curl up in a ball and only come out for dollars on Wednesday nights at Taylor's. Through the last year and a half, I have learned a lot, from tips and tricks to making food taste good, to some added benefits of being on a plant free lifestyle. So for all the haters, vegan enthusiasts and people looking into making the leap, enjoy!

1. Trust me, its not all just vegetables.....there's other stuff too.

One of the biggest mistakes or misconceptions about being vegan is that all we eat are plants or vegetables. I will be the first to assure you that that piece of information is not true. There are tons of things we can eat if you are creative. Learning what you like and what you can eat will all come with practice. You might have to experiment a little before you find your groove, but it will happen. I would also put money on the fact that you might find yourself having that moment halfway through a bowl of Cornbread Cafes vegan Mac and cheese. Just saying.

2. No allergies in Eugene, too good to be true!

One of the best things that I noticed about becoming vegan didn't become obvious until a few months later. For anyone who has lived in Eugene, OR through the springtime, you know what I am referring too. Allergies are monstrously bad here as we are in the middle of a basin and many people have to shut in themselves to not like, die. I was always one of those people, but last spring and this one so far as well I have noticed a crazy change. While I still get itchy eyes and sneeze occasionally, I no longer want to live in my bed where the pollen can't reach me! The vegan diet has been proven to reduce the levels of allergy issues that people have faced so basically if you're driving people crazy with your sneezing, maybe cut out the glass of milk in the morning.

3. Happy skin, happy day! 

Another benefit to being vegan is clear skin. A lot of people who are vegan tend to have clear skin that is acne free. That is not always the case, but there is 1 key reason why shiny skin comes from veganism. Dairy and meat products are not the skins best friend according to dermatologists. Both are chock full of hormones that aren't good for our bodies. Dermatologist William Danby even calls cow's milk "nature's perfect food for the creation of acne." So you might want to kiss that ice cream goodbye.

4.  There are lots of Vegan options, you just have to look!

Like I said above, there is a gross misconception that the only things Vegans eat are vegetables. There are so many different things that are incredibly good and don't have any animal products in them. Also, vegan restaurants are popping up all over the place now so you will able to eat out in peace and rest easy knowing your environmental footprint will be smaller. Some of my personal Eugene favorites are Cornbread Cafe, Morning Glory, the Veg and surprisingly Tacovore. Their tofu tacos are to die for! If you're more of a homebody though there are a lot of different well-known brands such as Ben and Jerrys and Carls Junior that are coming out with vegan alternatives!

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