Today is World Vegetarian Day, the first day of Vegetarian Awareness Month, according to the North American Vegetarian Society.
I have been a vegetarian since February 2011. I thought I would celebrate World Vegetarian Day by telling you why I became one.
I am not trying to talk anyone else into becoming a vegetarian. And I’m not giving dietary advice.
I don’t think people who eat meat are wrong. My husband eats meat, and we regularly eat together in harmony.
For me, though, being vegetarian works.
I am a lacto-ovo vegetarian. According to The Vegetarian Resource Group, that means I do not eat meat, fish or fowl, but I do eat dairy products and eggs. Also according to the group, an ovo vegetarian does not eat meat, fish, fowl or dairy products, but eats eggs. A lacto vegetarian does not eat meat, fish, fowl or eggs but eats dairy products. A vegan does not eat any animal products, and most don’t use animal products, according to the group.
Very simply, I am a vegetarian because I do not want to eat animals.
I grew up on a beef farm, and we always had plenty of meat to eat.
But in recent years, it has been harder for me to eat meat.
I have learned about some of the farm factory practices in getting the meat from the animal to the table.
My doctor suggested that I watch the film “Food, Inc.,” which I did.
As I became more aware of animal welfare issues, the more I became concerned about my eating habits and how they, even in a small way, might be contributing to the factory farming.
I don’t agree with some of the practices of raising animals to kill and use for food. I don’t think animals should suffer on the way to being butchered to become our food.
I feel a kinship with animals that makes me not want to eat them.
There are health benefits to being a vegetarian. My cholesterol levels are good, as are my triglycerides. My digestive system usually works more smoothly because I get more fiber in my diet than I used to. I don’t feel as sluggish after eating as I used to.
Where I get in trouble is when I don’t follow a diet of mostly whole grains, legumes, vegetables and fruit. I pay the price in how I feel and with my weight.
Most important to me, however, is the fact that I’m not eating animals unnecessarily.
In some cultures and some areas of the world, meat is a mainstay in the daily diet. Anywhere in the world, it’s necessary for some people’s health to eat meat.
But I can go without meat. I have access to a variety of other foods that give me the nutrients I need to stay healthy.
As hard as it is for me to make changes in my lifestyle, it was not hard for me to become and remain a vegetarian.
I started eating less and less meat, and one day I decided not to have any meat that week. That grew into no more meat. And I haven’t looked back.
Sometimes I’ll crave a hamburger or steak, or some good fried chicken, but it’s a passing craving and I move on.
I have managed not to let my eating habits become an obsessive-compulsive disorder ritual. One time in a restaurant, I ordered bean tacos. The server thought I said beef tacos. I ate some of it before I realized I was eating meat. I wasn’t thrilled, but I didn’t have an anxiety attack over it. I just reordered my food.
If you’re interested in learning more about vegetarianism, resources include The Vegetarian Resource Group and Vegetarian Times. Please remember to talk with your doctor before making changes in your diet.