Today is World Vegetarian Day. According to Google and Wikipedia in 2010 more than 1 billion people worldwide were vegetarian. Today I suspect that number is higher since the world population has likely increased and more people are choosing to be vegetarian. Today kicks off the Vegetarian Awareness Month, which serves to educate people about being a vegetarian. I wanted to take a few minutes to share with you my experiences with eating and following a vegetarian diet. My hope is that during this month you will commit to integrating more meatless meals into your routine.
Giving up meat
I can’t remember when I first stopped eating meat. But I recall about 4 or 5 years ago, I decided to commit to not eating meat or fish in April. I chose April because of April 22nd, Earth Day, a day we stop to focus on ways we can all live more sustainably. I wanted to give up meat during the entire month of April as a sustainability commitment for Earth Day. It was a super successful experience that I actually found much easier than I thought it would be. I won’t lie and say that I didn’t miss certain foods because I did. But along the way, I discovered a different way of eating that is still at the heart of how I eat today.
There are three primary reasons behind this change to my eating habits. These include the environment, my health and the ethical treatment of animals.
The driving force behind this Earth month experiment came from my belief that not eating meat or even decreasing the amount of meat we consume reduces the impact we each have on the environment. I wanted to see how I could lessen my carbon footprint. For me in making this change I believe I was contributing in some small way to helping our planet fight against climate change.
At the time I started this month long change I was also a nutrition student. During that time, I was learning about the health benefits behind eating a more plant-based diet. As a result, I now had more reasons to continue eating a vegetable centric diet. I was surprised during this month long commitment and beyond that I felt better physically. Not so heavy and bloated all the time.
Beyond health and the environment, there are ethical reasons for me behind eating less meat. There have been numerous movies and books written about how animals in the United States are raised for meat. For the most part, I have avoided watching and reading most of them. I just don’t have the stomach to expose myself to it. But I’ve seen and heard enough to believe that I do not want to contribute financially to that form of treatment.
How I eat today
Today, I do occasionally eat meat – probably no more than a once or twice a month, and I consume fish usually once or twice a week. At home, I strictly cook plant-based. I can’t remember the last time I bought any form of meat to cook in my house. However, I do eat eggs, yogurt and cheese regularly. Honestly, I don’t think I could ever adhere to a strictly vegan diet which avoids all animal products mainly because I LOVE cheese.
It just so happens as well, that this blog has really turned out to be solely plant-based recipes so far. I imagine it will likely stay that way. My goal is to share more great tasting and healthy plant-based recipes to you all with the hope that you are inspired to make small changes in your way of eating as well. And while I do eat dairy products and eggs, I experiment with vegan recipes as well. I think that eliminating these ingredients sometimes is simply a way to use plants to improve the nutrient density of our meals.
What would happen if everyone ate less meat?
There is no doubt that our planet would benefit if the world were to become more vegetarian. Animal production uses many of the world’s resources including water and land. In addition, animals give off methane gas which is one of the largest contributors to the increase in greenhouse gas emissions. This video (it’s less 4 minutes long) looks at what would happen if the entire planet suddenly became vegetarian. It’s worth a look.
“…many scientists believe that reducing meat consumption, may be one of the best strategies for managing climate change.”
Video Created by Mitchell Moffit (twitter @mitchellmoffit) and Gregory Brown (twitter @whalewatchmeplz)
It is definitely a personal decision as to whether you want to eat completely or partially meatless. I don’t pass any judgment on anyone and their decisions surrounding the way they eat, but it doesn’t stop me from sharing with you what I believe.
I choose to eat less meat for my own reasons. These being:
- It’s better for my health. I eat less saturated fat and cholesterol. And I eat way more plants which are full of nutrients and antioxidants not found in meat.
- It benefits our environment and the planet where we live.
- For ethical reasons, mainly surrounding the mistreatment of many animals raised for slaughter.
I hope that you will join me in including more plant-based meals in your diet. All that is needed, is a commitment to start with making the change for one meal a week and go from there.
If you are interested in getting started I recommend these other posts I have written as a place to begin.
If you have any comments on this post or other content you would like to see, please comment here on the blog or send me a message via any social media or the contact me page.