I began contemplating a vegetarian lifestyle for a long time and have done a lot of research on it. I wanted to use my blog to document my experiences and share what I learn along the way. I may decide it won’t work for me, but I want to give it a try.
There were several reasons for this…
- I LOVE animals. I love my cat, Bert, more than anything. I love that he has a completely unique personality. I love how affectionate he is. I love his meows. I love when he follows me around the house and brings me his toys when he wants to play fetch. It has always made me sad that millions of other cats who are probably just as sweet as him are being killed every day. Millions of dogs, pigs, cows, chickens, minks and other animals are abused and killed each year. Studies have shown that these animals can be very intelligent, feel emotions, grieve the loss of each other and even worry about the future. Yet humans treat them as though their only use is to be eaten. They are kept under awful conditions and tortured while they are still alive. I watched the PETA videos of the absolute despicable brutality inflicted on innocent animals. I saw chickens being electrocuted, baby pigs being castrated while alive, cows crying for their babies who were picked up by their necks and stolen from them, cows being hung by their feet and bleeding to death while fully conscious, minks being skinned alive and bleeding profusely from their nose as the evil butchers stepped on their heads. I could not help but think of these animals every time I sat down to eat. My cat is no different than any of these animals. But while he spends his days being petted and loved, so many other helpless animals are being tortured to death so people just like me can eat a hamburger. I read a quote by Prince, who is a vegan…” I don’t eat anything that has parents.” I don’t want to either.
- During the same time I watched the PETA videos, I decided to take a Human Anatomy class. On the first day, I received the syllabus which said that most of the semester would be consumed with a cat dissection. I was horrified. I had no idea cats were used for dissection, let alone that I would have to be a part of it. I could not fathom seeing a dead cat or cutting one up. All I could think about was Bert. I knew nursing was not for me if this was the path that I’d have to take to get there.
- I have had ongoing issues with my health over the years. Nothing too serious, but enough minor annoyances have added up over the years that I want to make a change. Stomach aches, depression, anxiety, skin problems, intense food cravings, insomnia, etc. Although I’ve made major life changes that were stressful, I couldn’t help but think my diet must also have something to do with it. I did research and suspected a hormone imbalance. I quickly switched to organic products so as not to add excess hormones to my body. In turn, I learned a lot about “vegan” products and why they are better for animals and the environment, as well as for our bodies. In the last 2 years, I have eaten a very heavy animal protein diet because I weight train regularly. As most fitness buffs and dieters will attest to, heavy animal protein diets are the standard. I would, without fail, eat about 100-120 grams of animal protein a day, which amounts to meat, fish or eggs every meal, five times a day. That is a lot of meat. And I am only one person.
I am not going to lie. Even though I love animals and have come to understand how completely cruel, unsustainable and unhealthy the meat industry truly is, the idea of changing my entire lie was scary. I’d been a carnivore for as long as I can remember. I had other weird and shamefully petty fears , like fearing I’d be hungry because I don’t care for carbs, like pasta, rice and beans. I can’t eat tofu or drink soy milk because they will screw up my hormones. I have never been a picky eater and was quite proud of that fact. I don’t want to be the annoying girl ordering off the menu at restaurants. Let’s be honest, vegetarians get the same type of awkward stares that aliens stepping off of a spaceship would.
I hate to admit it, but I always genuinely loved steak, bacon and sushi. I often said my last meal would be a prime rib with a baked potato and a glass of red wine. But truth be told, knowing what I know now, it wouldn’t taste good at all. When I see meat, all I can think about is the cow that had to die for me to eat. And with all the starving people in the world, I shouldn’t complain about having to limit my dietary options. At least I have options.
Since I am a fitness competitor, I am familiar with doing things I don’t necessarily want to for the greater good. At various times in my training, I have given up sugar, alcohol and other things I truly enjoy. I surely don’t love these foods enough to kill an animal. And I might as well be killing one myself I I am going to eat it. In fact, if everyone had to kill their dinner, I bet a lot of people would be vegetarians.
I am a firm believer in “If others can do it, I can too.” This is no different. I’m not one to back down from a challenge. I admit that I am taking it as a personal challenge to prove fitness fanatics wrong about how to eat to be fit…and part of that comes with exposing the way we have all been brainwashed to think meat is the end all be all.
To be perfectly honest, I also worry that people will make fun of me or accuse me of being some weird hippie. Let’s face it, vegetarians have a reputation…and it’s not really good. I am from the Midwest, where eating meat is the standard. I just need to remind myself that I am doing it for me, the animals and the earth.
Luckily, a few months before I made this decision, I moved to northern California, where veganism is quite popular and widely accepted. I can get organic produce any time I want. Vegetarian menus are the norm. It is fantastic and has opened my eyes to many amazing foods I never even knew existed!
Sometimes I wonder…..do I have the energy to think about all this?! But if I don’t think about it, who will? My health is important to me, as is helping animals and the environment. I can’t do it all but I can definitely do my part. I enjoy doing things for the greater good, not to satisfy a momentary impulse or craving. Vegans are caring and compassionate and they stand by their convictions. They are giving back to the world with their own personal choices. That is what I strive for.
I know that this will be a process and cannot happen overnight.I am not perfect and expect to make mistakes. I hope that others who are open to the idea of vegetarianism don’t think they have to be perfect either. Baby steps or small contributions are always good too. Did you know that cutting out just one meat meal per week and swapping it for a veg meal can make a difference for the environment…and your wallet?
I hope someday that I have the dedication, creativity and will power to live a truly vegan lifestyle. This blog will outline my personal journey and what I learn along the way. I will give special attention to animal rights issues and, as a professional fitness writer, I will also emphasize health, as well as the close relationship between personal health and environmental health.