My vegetarian anniversary is quickly approaching.

I ironically decided to change my diet the day after Thanksgiving eight years ago. Maybe it was the turkey coma, maybe it was the guilt of feeling like a hypocrite. Either way, I have happily lived my life meat-free since I was 13 years old.

When people find out about my dietary choice, they love to ask, "What made you become vegetarian?" To be honest, this answer has evolved over time. It all started with my sheer and absolute love for animals. I felt like a massive hypocrite. How could I let these things I love so much die in terrible conditions for my own taste buds? It felt selfish.

You know the age-old saying, "You are what you eat?" This one stuck with me. I did not want to be made of the same cells and energy of something that went through pain and suffering. I instantly felt a change of happiness when I was only putting joyful things into my body. My body is no longer a graveyard for once living beings.

The older I get, the answer to why I became vegetarian has been added to. I truly believe it is a healthier lifestyle and an immense amount of research is being produced that a plant-based diet is the healthiest way to heal and nourish the body. Research is also undeniable that producing animal products on the scale it is being done is not an environmentally friendly process.

I am a vegetarian for the animals, for my health, and for the planet.

I realize that the vegetarian lifestyle is not for everyone. But, my biggest encouragement to people is trying to eat one meal a day without animal products. Attempt to get out of the mindset that a meal needs meat to classify as a meal. This little change can make a huge difference.

I always joke, "I was a vegetarian before it was cool." There has been a huge trend over the past two to three years of more people adopting vegetarian and vegan lifestyles. This couldn't make me happier. With this rise in trend, there has not been a restaurant in the past couple of years that I was not able to order at. So yes, I can eat anywhere.

Being vegetarian for the past eight years has been one of the best decisions I have made in my life. I am looking forward to a lifetime of cruelty-free eating.

There is no changing my mind about this lifestyle.