When I was in middle school, I completed a research project on the food industry. The Food Inc. movie, PETA, and McCruelty are all results that entered my search feed. One click on each result and a scroll through each site changed my life forever.
"Why are you a vegetarian?" is the most asked question at the dinner table when eating with new friends.
I am now entering my fifth year of the lifestyle, and to be honest my reasons for choosing to stay vegetarian are more than my initial reasons.
What started out as a fight against animal cruelty has evolved into a desire to live a healthier life and help save the planet.
1. The food industry is a cruel field where thousands of animals are treated horribly.
I will spare you the graphic pictures on this one but trust me when I say the animals' conditions are bad. Chickens are injected with too many steroids so that the chicken on our plates are bigger; however, they become too fat that they lose their ability to walk. They live the last days of their lives sitting immobile on the ground. Not only is this sad, but it is extremely unhealthy for consumers as well. As they sit on the ground unable to move, they are festering up bacteria. Not to mention their bodies are loaded with steroids, which are bad for us as well. This is just the story of the chicken... cows and pigs are other stories that I will leave you to research on your own.
2. A plant-based diet can be healthier than a meat diet.
You meat lovers are already probably thinking — "Where do you get your source of iron and protein?" Greens is my answer to this question. Meat substitutes are easy to find. Personally I am not a tofu lover, however, that is one option. My favorite substitutes include spinach, hummus, black beans, broccoli, and chickpeas. My go-to lunch is a salad that includes all of those ingredients plus tomatoes, cucumbers, and some balsamic vinegar. Meat can be fatty and high in cholesterol. Plants are clean and full of nutrients. Why eat meat when you can have a plate of veggies that are equal in protein yet better for your body?
3. Meat is rich in antibiotics.
The animals we eat are given lots of antibiotics to fight against bacteria in the factories. This can cause an excess of antibiotics in our own bodies, and it can cause us to build up a resistance to antibiotics. I did a science fair project on this one year. When the bacteria in your body is introduced to too much of an antibiotic over a long period of time, the bacteria begin to resist it. This causes us to need more medicine to fight infection. Just another reason why eating meat can be a bad thing.
4. Decreasing the size of the meat industry will eliminate the number of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
You probably did not know that eliminating meat from your diet fights pollution, huh! Animal agriculture is one of the leading emissions of CO2 into the atmosphere. This is because of the high demand for meat. People want more meat to eat, so more animals are raised. Animal manure itself is one of the leading pollutants in America. Not eating meat is not only healthier for you, but it can also save the planet.
These are just four reasons why I chose to not eat meat, and the reasons that I am the most passionate about. There are many more reasons out there, so I encourage you to seek them out. The vegetarian lifestyle is vast in benefits.
A last piece of advice is this -- never look down upon someone for the way that they chose to live their life. Ask questions. Seek to understand where they are coming from. Never act as if you are better because you think the way you live your life is better. I cannot tell you the number of times people have called me "dumb" for simply choosing to not eat meat. Be open-minded and be open to change. Some of the people who have called me "dumb" are now vegetarians themselves. You never know if you like something unless you try it.