The summer before my senior year of high school, I started dating this guy. He and his twin were (and still are) vegetarians, and they had been for years. Seeing them be vegetarians with minimal hassle while still living in Louisiana (where we're from) was eye-opening for me.
I realized that being a vegetarian didn't have to be hard.
I didn't stop eating meat then and there, though. I spent a lot of time thinking about it, mostly because I didn't want to relive my freshman year of high school when everyone stopped eating meat for a day after watching "Food, Inc." but then caved in when they realized that it would take effort. I didn't want it to just be a phase. Because of "Food, Inc." I knew that a lot of livestock lived in inhumane conditions, weren't getting the proper nutrition, and were unhappy. But that wasn't enough for me until I learned something in my environmental science class during my senior year.
I learned that the majority of the methane in the Earth's atmosphere is put there by cows. Methane is one of the most influential greenhouse gas, and the methane and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is contributing to climate change. I decided that for a way for me to mitigate the effect that I had on the environment would be to not eat meat. And so my vegetarianism began.
It took me months to decide to commit to not eating meat before learning about the effect the beef and dairy industry has on the environment.
Even after seeing my boyfriend live as a successful vegetarian, I was hesitant to make such a drastic lifestyle change. I did not start making the switch to vegetarianism until winter, probably a month or so after I learned about the impact that the meat industry has on the environment. I was hesitant to tell people because I didn't want them to think that it was just because of my boyfriend. I didn't want my parents to judge me or to make their lives harder.
But I eventually became a full-blown pescatarian. I ate seafood but not any other kind of meat. That was a pretty easy thing to do. In July, I stopped eating seafood and was completely meatless. It's been eight months that I've identified as a vegetarian, and I'm surprised by the changes I've experienced since then.
Meat is no longer appetizing to me and I'm pretty serious about encouraging other people to eat less meat, particularly red meat.
I'm not trying to get everyone to stop eating meat or to shame you or belittle you or make you feel bad about how you choose to eat. I also want to note that being a vegetarian isn't about depriving yourself. If I wanted to eat meat, I would. If you want to eat meat, eat meat! Being a vegetarian isn't possible for everyone. Humans are omnivores, we need protein (although our diets should be mostly plant based). But if you want to do something to help the environment, one thing that you could do is something like a "Meatless Monday," where you don't eat meat on Mondays. It may seem small, but a little step can go a long way.