I survived my first vegetarian Thanksgiving a couple of weekends ago, (Canadian Thanksgiving, you Americans thinking that I’ve got my calendar all screwed up) and it was a lot easier than I expected. But cutting out meat has surprised me in many ways. Even though I haven’t been vegetarian for very long, my life has changed a lot in the past couple of months. If you’re a vegetarian or eat something other than the traditional American diet, you can probably relate to this list.
Here are 5 things that happened when I stopped eating meat:
I became more aware of what I was putting in my body.
Cutting out meat means I have to put more thought into planning out my meals. I need to make sure my foods don’t contain any meat products and that I’m getting the proper nutrients. (Did you know vegetarians can’t eat marshmallows?!!) As a result, I began to make healthier choices because I was putting more thought into what I was eating. It’s allowed me to be more conscious of what I’m putting into my body rather than eating whatever is available because now I’m forced to put more thought into my food.
I got cravings.
I am a vegetarian who loves meat. Often people will ask if I’m offended when they eat meat in front of me and the answer is always no. I know how good meat tastes, but for ethical and environmental reasons, I choose not to eat it. Sometimes I get cravings, but the most important thing is to remember the reasons why I chose this lifestyle and that alone helps my cravings disappear. Plus, if I’m really desperate, there are some great and healthy meat substitutes out there for me to curb my cravings.
Strangers started to care about my eating habits.
I have never had people be interested in my eating habits until I stopped eating meat. People quickly made assumptions about who I am based on my dietary choices or asked ignorant questions. Seriously if one more person asks, “how do you get your protein?” I’m going to lose it!
I have had people completely disagree with my eating habits (which is okay) but what’s not okay is when they challenge me in a condescending way because my beliefs are different from theirs. I won’t bring up being a vegetarian unless asked, and I don’t care if anyone eats meat because your body and lifestyle is none of my business. I don’t try and push my beliefs on anyone so there is no point in trying to “prove me wrong” because you’re not going to make me change my mind.
I motivated others.
Some people are curious about the vegetarian lifestyle and ask a lot of great questions. Most of the time our conversations end with people being inspired to make a change in their diets, whether it is deciding to cut out meat completely, going vegetarian one day a week or even one meal a week. I love how a simple conversation can end with making a change, even a small one.
It became more than a diet.
When I became vegetarian I was most concerned about my diet, as I’m sure most people are. However, being vegetarian is more than not eating meat. I realized that so many of the items I buy are made using animals products. Now I make sure to read all labels before purchasing anything, which means no clothing made of fur, leather, wool, or silk, and ensuring all my beauty products are not tested on animals.
I never thought a change in diet would affect so many other aspects of my life, but I am so happy I made the change. I think this is due to achieving a goal I set for myself so long ago that I never expected to accomplish. I could not be happier with my decision but no matter what types of food you choose to eat, or not eat, it’s important to remember that our diets have a bigger influence on our lives than we realize.
Featured Image via Emily Hunt.