I recently realized that the story of how I became a vegetarian and why I am still a vegetarian after 17 years would make a good article. I’ll start with how I became a vegetarian and follow it up with why I’ve remained vegetarian. Hopefully you find this at least entertaining, if not thought-provoking.
In my first year of college, my roomate was a vegan. This was in the early 90’s and the dorm cafeteria was terribly un-vegan friendly. For every meal, his only option was the salad bar and he usually had to pick out the bits of shredded cheese that had gotten mixed in with the lettuce. Often I sat across from him eating a hamburger and poking fun of him grazing on a salad. He talked to me about the benefits, how he felt healthier, and how it was better for the earth to not eat animal products. None of it had much impact on me at the time.
The following year we took a week long road trip. At the beginning of the trip I agreed to eat what he ate for a week and thus began my vegan/vegetarian experience. Eating vegan on the road is incredibly hard. Eating vegan on the road with a college student’s budget is even harder. I have a distinct memory of crouching in the bread isle of a convenience store somewhere in Ohio reading the ingredients of all the loaves of bread. Just about every loaf eventually had a dairy product somewhere near the bottom of the list. Surprisingly, Wonderbread Wheat was vegan so we picked that up and some peanut butter and jelly and had sandwiches for several days. We did eat better than just PB&J, and by the end of the week I was hooked. I felt better, I felt lighter, and the ethics of not eating animals was starting to get into my head.
No Turning Back
That was January of 1992, and I haven’t (willfully) eaten animal flesh since then, with the exception of fish occasionally which I’ll get into later. I’ve had my ups and downs, I’ve been overweight and lost weight, but I am happy to say that I am still a steadfast vegetarian. Using this handy calculator on the PETA website, I can proudly say that by not eating meat I have saved the lives of 4,760 animals. Adding in my whole family shows we have saved almost 15,000 animal lives! That is pretty cool.
Do you have a story about how you got turned on to being vegetarian or vegan? Are you currently a meat eater, but considering changing? Be sure to let me know.