A year ago, I was taking a Gen Ed class that I usually paid little attention too. But in this particular class, we were learning about climate change and the natural disasters that result from it. We had learned about fracking the week before, which had sparked my disgust about how we treat our planet.
I started to do research about what can be done on a day-to-day basis to reduce our environmental impact, and vegetarianism started rolling around in my head.
At first, I brushed it off as a ridiculous idea: I love steak, fried chicken, and bacon - how could I ever stop eating it? Would my family judge me? Would I have to live the rest of my life as the token vegetarian in my loved ones' lives?
I gave myself a week to try it out. It was difficult at first not because I couldn't find vegetarian options, but because I kept forgetting not to eat it. Up until that point, I was always under the common impression that if a meal didn't include meat, it wasn't a meal at all.
The act of excluding meat from my diet was actually easy, and I found myself trying new fruits and vegetables that I never would have tried before. Without meat, I had to find other ways to get protein and vitamins and keep my diet diverse. Despite the popular rumor, vegetables aren't expensive, and on average I keep my grocery budget for the entire week under $70.
I did go through a gassy phase for a week or two. Sorry if that's too much information, but the biology of your intestines changes when you stop eating meat and those considering it should know that. But after that hiccup, it didn't take long before I found myself with more energy and not feeling sluggish after meals.
I never had a big problem with acne, but whatever problems I did have with my skin almost completely went away. I started to snack more to keep myself full, which kept me from binging during meals. After that first week, I decided not to go back: for my planet and myself.
I'm not gonna lie, I do still eat meat occasionally solely because life is short, and I don't think I could give up KFC forever. In fact, I had a burger just the other day. Overall, after I feel so much better physically and proud for cutting down on my environmental impact (I also recycle now and try to cut down on my textile waste whenever I can) and I don't plan on going back anytime soon.
When I tell people why I'm a vegetarian, they'll often say "Yeah that makes sense...but how much impact can one person really have?" I think one person can have a huge impact. Not only does not eating meat have a considerable impact on the planet, but I think there's a much wider scope than that.
Telling people how easy vegetarianism is, that they can make an impact by just cutting down on their meat consumption and helping friends that want to start their own veg journey starts a domino effect.
Before you brush off vegetarianism as "hippie bullshit" or an unhealthy habit, do some research and maybe try it out for yourself for a week. The planet is crying for our help, and you can be the next person to make a change.