In 2009 I did NOT become a vegetarian because of Food Inc. Nor did I become a vegetarian after watching the free DVD’s of chicken coops PETA used to hand out at Warped Tour back when I was still of the appropriate age to attend those concerts. As a matter of fact, there was NEVER a moral reason behind me choosing this lifestyle. I became a vegetarian simply because of a 30 day diet challenge that gradually became comfortable and eventually developed into a small part of who I am.
Five years down the road people ask me all the time why I still maintain this diet and they all expect me to bombard them with statistics about how many people die from too many big macs. To be completely honest, I’ve actually never been too concerned with how others are eating. I think it’s your personal choice to live healthy or not, carnivorously or vegetarian; but somehow people are never satisfied with that answer.
So here it is, folks. This is my personal list of why I’ve decided to stick to my veggie lifestyle for the past five years.
1. The guacamole on my Chipotle order doesn’t cost extra. Go on and enjoy your chicken burrito, and pay your extra dollar (or whatever it costs I have no idea I’ve never paid for it) to enjoy this delectable topping. This fact alone is enough to keep me hooked on this lifestyle forever.
2. Overall, grocery shopping has ALWAYS been cheaper for me. In college my tab would generally come out to $40 (For PLENTY of groceries for the week) where my friends typically spent around $70.
3. It forces you to be creative in the kitchen. My friends in college used to always undergo a mild panic attack every time we hosted a dinner or gasp, even worse, a BARBECUE. What on EARTH could I possibly eat??
How about grilled summer squash and zucchini medley? How about BBQ flavored vegetable fajitas? Pasta salad? Fingerling potatoes? A black bean veggie burger? A kale salad tossed with cherry tomatoes, almonds and beets with a homemade champagne vinaigrette ? People seem to think that a main course always needs to be meat-centric for it to be delicious and I’ve discovered from experimentation that’s not the case. The combinations are endless and I always found a way to “vegify” most of my friend’s favorite meaty dish during dinner and they were NEVER disappointed.
4. On the note of dinner parties, if someone cooks something that sounds a bit…off putting and it contains meat (such as “We decided to soak these pig innards in blood and turn it into a stew”*), then you don’t feel QUITE so bad declining the offer. No one can take offense to you sticking to your beliefs, right?
*That’s something I actually saw on Anthony Bourdain’s show and almost threw up . Nothing against you carnivores, but sometimes I don’t know how you do it.
5. You feel the need to eat healthier and tend to focus on nutrition a lot more. I know this doesn’t apply for all vegetarians, for many of us are guilty of replacing the missing protein with carbs, sugars, and cheese. However, in a number of other ways I’ve focused more on what i put in my body rather than mindlessly putting whatever sounds good down my throat. When you give up meat you’re forced to find new ways to get protein, and so you’re more conscientious of what you put in your body
6. It sounds cheesy, but it’s nice to have something stable to hold on to. Before I became a vegetarian I knew absolutely NOTHING about how to cook as I had grown up on a steady diet of hamburger helper and mcdonald’s nuggets. It wasn’t until I challenged myself to the meat free-life style for 30 days that I forced myself to learn how to make a scrumptious salad, and cook with vegetables. I kept a log of recipes I tried out and made sure to remember the things that didn’t work well and the dishes I found delicious enough to serve to my friends. Not for long after memorizing several cookbooks did that 30 day challenge become a one-year challenge, and now five years later I stand meat free and damn proud of it.
7. You probably won’t eat fast food anymore. Yeah, yeah. You can eat the fries still and order things “sans meat’ (I’m looking at you, IN N OUT grilled cheese). But for the most part you won’t have those cravings for a Whopper or a double-double animal style because it simply isn’t a part of your life anymore. As a result, you’re probably less likely to go out of your way to sit in the drive thru for a menu that doesn’t really cater to your dietary needs.
8. Because I just want to be, and I shouldn’t ever have to give any statistic or reasoning to justify my lifestyle to anyone.