Going Vegetarian Isn't Hard Or Pointless

'Going Vegetarian' Isn't As Hard Or As Pointless As You Think It Is

Cutting back on meat is better for your heart and for the world around you.

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I grew up with a family that ate a lot of meat. As a kid, I hunted with my dad, and I thoroughly enjoyed eating bacon and tri-tip every other weekend. I always commented on vegetarians, telling everyone I knew that I could never go vegetarian, I could never give up meat, I would miss meat too much. It's healthier and more well-balanced to be eating meat, and one person not eating meat does not make a difference to the environment.

Well, I'm here to break the news and just say it.

I stopped eating meat.

I know, I know. Hold the gasps of horror and silence the screaming children. I'm OK, I promise.

I never saw this change coming, but I'm here, over a month into my new vegetarian lifestyle, and I am surviving. In fact, I am doing much better than I thought I would be, and not eating meat has actually been one-hundred times easier than I thought it would be.

So, let me break down some of these meat-myths for all of you reading at home.

Not eating meat, or cutting back on how much meat you eat, actually lowers your risk of developing heart disease.

You get enough protein from other foods such as eggs, beans, nuts, seeds, peas, and soy products, so going meat-less is not unhealthy.

Cutting down on meat helps the environment by using less water and generating less greenhouse gasses.

I thought it would be hard to stop eating meat, that I would find myself lying awake at night dreaming of a juicy steak, a thick slab of bacon, or even a McDonalds cheeseburger. Surprisingly enough, 'going vegetarian' has been a relatively easy transition. Sure, I get the annoyed eye-rolls when I tell servers I don't want meat in my pasta or on my pizza, but who cares.

When I first decided to cut meat out of my diet, I left fish in my diet, purely for the sake of eating sushi. I was a pescatarian. In the last two weeks, I have decided to go strictly vegetarian from now on. I can sacrifice a little bit of my sushi obsession and get a veggie or tofu roll instead.

Going vegetarian is easy, and I have learned a lot about myself and the world around me in the past month. I have opened myself up to new foods, I have discovered a newfound appreciation for veggies, I decided I absolutely love tofu, and I have become much more aware of the effect one person can really have on the world. Sure, one vegetarian is not going to stop global warming, but if I can help reduce my own impact in any small way, I might as well give it a try.

I am not here to tell everyone to stop eating meat entirely. I respect your decisions and your choices, and I hope you do the same for me. But I do encourage you to test yourself, see how much meat you are really eating in your everyday diet. Challenge yourself to eat a little less red meat and a few more plants. Your heart might thank you later.

So far, I am loving being vegetarian, and I cannot wait to keep challenging myself.

Who knows, maybe I will try being vegan next.

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The Unspoken Dangers of 'Mukbang' Culture

Ever wondered why you can't stop clicking on these addictive, self-made eating shows?

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Unless you've been living under a rock for the past five years, you've probably heard of the internet trend commonly referred to as a mukbang, or "eating show." These self-produced video clips typically involve one hungry individual, their filming device, and an obscene amount of delicious foods.

Though these broadcasts originated all the way from South Korea (hence the foreign vocabulary), the growing popularity of eating videos has taken the internet by storm. Nowadays as you scroll through YouTube, you'll find an outrageous amount of uploads with titles like "10,000 CALORIE PASTA MUKBANG," "EATING EVERYTHING ON THE MCDONALD'S MENU," or "THE ULTIMATE CHOCOLATE CHALLENGE."

Popular 'mukbangers' such as Peggie Neo, Megan McCullom, and Steven Sushi have made a sizable profit off of their viral eating shows, some collecting tens of thousands of dollars in revenue.

So, what's the big deal you say? You order a large quantity of food, indulge in said food, film yourself completing this menial task, and upload to the internet for money and fame. On the outside, this may seem like a luxurious lifestyle, but behind the camera lens sits an individual battling their own demons and influencing the world of social media to partake in their harmful behaviors.

Mukbanger Livia Adams ("Alwayshungry" on YouTube) has opened up about her unhealthy relationship with food in the past, praising herself for fasting several hours in order to justify her over-indulgence on camera.

Similarly, internet sensation Trisha Paytas claims to diet and starve herself for weeks just to be able to satisfy her subscribers with epic mukbangs, which are essentially binges.

In all actuality, these social media celebrities are negatively impacting (and possibly triggering) vulnerable viewers.

Many fans only see the highlight reel of YouTubers shoveling bowls of cereal or boxes of doughnuts into their mouths, yet remain completely unaware of what truly goes on behind-the-scenes. Messages saying:

"I'm on a diet... watching this is giving me some sort of satisfaction, like as tho I ate, you know?"
"I watch these videos because I know I physically can't afford to eat like this because I gain weight too easily."
"When having an eating disorder, watching Trisha's mukbangs is sorta comforting in a way omg"

flood the comments sections of Paytas' videos. Quite obviously, fans young and old are heavily influenced by this content and continue to support these creators to fulfill a self-destructive need.

Additionally, famous mukbang accounts never seem to include the painful after-effects of their ginormous feasts in videos. Fitness model Stephanie Buttermore flaunts her slim physique just days after consuming over 10,000 calories for a challenge, giving the impression that her previous overindulgence had no repercussions on her health whatsoever. Because Buttermore is a trained, athletic young woman, she was able to quickly bounce back after a series of workouts and low-calorie meals.

On the contrary, if a sedentary woman of about the same age were to attempt this challenge, she would most likely feel sluggish, irritable, bloated, stomach discomfort, and even vomitous post challenge. Eating regularly like this could lead to bigger issues such as heart disease, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and certain types of cancer. Unfortunately, because topics like these aren't glamorous and attractive to subscribers, mukbangers often edit them out.

Now don't get me wrong. Though not everyone who uploads a mukbang to the internet has an eating disorder or an evil agenda, they have to realize the kind of audience they're appealing to. This generation is more susceptible than ever to emulate the actions and words of their favorite celebrities. Young boys and girls look up to successful adults, and influencers should be remembered for the change they inspired, not the disease they encouraged.

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The Difference Between Vegan, Vegetarian, And Some Other Diets

I get asked what it means to be a vegan all the time, so in light of those who have trouble understanding, here's an article defining a few different types.

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Coming to a college full of new people, I couldn't tell you the number of times I hear, "Wait, are you vegetarian or vegan?" It's a question we all get, and sometimes people don't even know what those phrases are. Another, "What does that even mean?" They get mixed up, thrown around, and ranted about in my daily life, and it's quite a trip. I explain over and over again the differences, what I am, and why I am vegan, but the questions always come again.

For those of you who are still confused, I'll help you out a little.

Here is a list of some different dietary types, and what they mean.

Vegan

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Veganism, easily defined, is the lack of meat, dairy, or any animal product from your diet. Honey, milk, eggs, chicken, bacon, pork, steak, beef, etc., are all items vegans don't eat. Many go even further by buying only animal-free and cruelty-free (not animal tested) makeups, body products, clothing, and more. A devoted vegan checks every product used or consumed to make sure it's free of anything animal related. The Vegan Society defines Veganism as, "A way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose."

A vegan diet can also be referred to as a plant-based diet, with all the same aspects, but some plant-based people may not focus on any other products than food.

Vegetarian

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Sweet and simple, vegetarians just don't eat meat. This does not include dairy or egg. They can still eat macaroni and cheese, just no more cheeseburgers or steaks. Vegetarian is pretty straight forward in the fact that they only lack the meat aspect of a diet!

Pescatarian

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Similar to vegetarians, pescatarians eat no meat except fish. They allow themselves to consume kinds of fish, just not beef, pork, or other types of meat.

Flexitarian

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My definition of a flexitarian is someone who keeps to a mostly plant-based diet, with the occasional animal product. These could be people who are transitioning and trying out the vegan or vegetarian diet but are not fully committed to it, for various reasons. Flexitarian could also be someone who just choices to eat mostly meat or dairy free but every few meals will eat something from an animal.

Although this is not technically a vegetarian or vegan diet, it's a great way to start the journey to becoming a vegan.

It's a tricky thing trying to navigate all the diets out there these days.

If you're ever interested in trying out these diets there are incredible amounts of resources available to help you on that journey. Do some research, get an understanding of why people choose these diets and then find somewhere to help you! Good places to start are PETA, The Vegan Society, Vegan Action, and many more. Just type into a google search, vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, or any other diet and you'll get loads of information! I encourage everyone I talk to, consider these types of change because they're great for yourself, the animals, and the environment.

I hope these brief definitions have helped you to understand some more what these different words mean, and maybe they have you thinking about ways you could change your diet!

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