It’s been four months since I stopped eating meat and I feel amazing. There have been so many different physical changes to my body, but those are not the ones that have had the biggest impact on me. Sure I enjoy my fifteen-pound weight loss and the influx of energy is completely welcome to stay forever. But those changes don’t hold a candle to the more introspective, mental and psychological changes I’ve experienced. My journey started simply out of a desire to drastically change my life. I wanted to make a change that would shake things up in my life and force me to leave my comfort zone and inevitably grow. The results of my vegetarian journey have been both scattered and awesome.
Understanding Other Vegetarians
One of the first changes was my feeling and opinion towards other vegetarians. I used to see them as tree-hugging hippies who were just interested in making other peoples’ lives harder. They must enjoy the extra attention they receive after announcing they can’t eat something or need to seek out a new restaurant to meet their restrictions. When my brother became a vegetarian my family would sit and talk about how difficult he made our livesevery time we began planning a family function that included a meal. We would gripe over how he couldn’t eat this or that and sigh the entire time we researched recipes all of us could eat. I quickly learned just how wrong we all were. As I travel the world it is not any fun looking at menu after menu to no avail trying to find a restaurant with vegetarian options. In no way am I trying to inconvenience anyone when I decline the invite to dinner at a steakhouse, it has been my experience that they don’t really cater to me. I now can understand that my brother’s decision to be vegetarian, like mine, has nothing to do with anyone else.
Awareness of My Food ChoicesCredit: MorgueFile Stock Photo
Before becoming a vegetarian I ate food because it looked, smelled or previously tasted good. There were no other benchmarks or necessary requirements to selecting meals for my family. I am one of those strange people that enjoy grocery shopping, taking time to go down every single aisle when I have the time. I would just pick things off the shelves without ever checking the labels or caring what was in them. Since becoming a vegetarian and experiencing natural physical changes for the better, I enjoy the way natural vegetables make me feel and now steer away from processed foods. I don’t want to put things in my body if I don’t know what they are, regardless of how good they smell or look. Even more shocking to me, grocery stores are no longer my favorite place, instead choosing local farms and farmer’s markets for my produce. For the first time I am curious and picky about where the food I eat comes from and how it was grown. Now I choose to nourish my body instead of simply feeding it. When I feel hungry I think that my body is lacking nutrients and needs fuel as opposed to the idea that my stomach is empty and wants something tasty to fill it up.
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Education of Nutrition
One of the first books I read after deciding to become vegetarian was The China Study, a remarkable book about a health study a doctor and his team performed over the course of several years in rural China. The book makes a very damning claim that animal protein is directly related to the promotion of cancer and other serious diseases and illnesses. Furthermore, the book examines the overall effect of nutrition on your body and teaches you what is good for you and what is not. No teachers or doctors ever taught me about the deep impact nutrition can have on your body. Sure I was shown the food pyramid as a child and told that you should have a balanced diet, but that is nothing compared to the information that is actually available. I encourage you to read about the effects of nutrition on your physical and mental health. Try out ‘Meatless Mondays’, where you take meat off the menu for one day of the week. Change your life up a bit and pay attention to the way you feel after those changes are implemented. You just might like the new you and learn a little about yourself. That is exactly what has happened to me on this journey to drastically change my life through vegetarianism.
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