There was an integral point in my life that caused me to become a vegetarian. Around my senior year of college I became uninterested in eating meat. I couldn’t explain why all of a sudden my favorite dishes of mine had become stopped being appealing to me. One day it just clicked. Becoming a vegetarian was something I needed to do for my own peace of mind. I knew making the change would be difficult, but it felt like the best choice I could make for myself.
Changing my diet
I did not take changing my diet lightly. I read books and I asked some doctors specific questions on what I foods I would need to eat more of to keep a balanced diet. I let a lot of assumptions about the vegetarian culture make me underestimate my choice. However, after seeking the right information I felt confident that I could stay healthy while cutting out what was thought to be a necessary part of the human diet. I found a lot of good information on how people digest plant proteins, and what portions to have of what foods to keep frequently in my food rotations.
During this transition period, I realized how unhealthy I was prior to my dietary change. Things I needed to look out for as a vegetarian were things I neglected while I was eating meat, because I assumed I was eating well. That was not at all the case. For example, I didn’t realize that I was on the verge of anemia before I changed my diet. When I was faced with the issue of ensuring I was receiving enough iron during my transition, I introduced iron rich plant foods that boosted my iron levels. Almost immediately after becoming a vegetarian I felt a positive difference in how I was feeling. I noticed I had more energy, and wasn’t tired as often. I noticed I was able to do more workouts during the week, and as a result I was able to push myself out of the physical rut I was feeling. I also noticed that I stopped feeling so uncomfortably full after my meals, because I no longer over ate unhealthy foods. My skin began to glow, and my attitude became more positive. Overall, it felt wonderful! Transitioning my diet made me see that regardless of my choice in what I put in my body, I needed to be more conscious of what I was eating.
I had to overcome a lot of negative feedback from many of my friends and family. They couldn’t understand that I enjoyed being vegetarian. I had to put up with a lot of refusals to acknowledge my diet change, and on many holidays I was left to fend for myself. After time had passed, however, my friends and family saw the positive changes vegetarianism gave me and started being more supportive. They started branching out of their comfort zones and together we found great recipes to make when groups got together. Meat stopped being a divided issue among my peers.
My dietary change became a lifestyle change. A lot of my favorite restaurants I could no longer go to because they didn’t have any vegetarian options. I had to endure a lot of confusion from others and negative criticism to attempt to force me to go back to the more accepted choice of diets. I was called hypocritical for eating meat before I changed my diet. I was called a “hippie” for enjoying my meat-free diet. I was laughed at for asking what broth was used in certain soups. Over all, the adjustment seemed harder for my peers to accept than my choice to eat meat free products.
Making it Positive
I had to stick to my guns. The criticism made me realize that a lot of people didn’t “want” to accept my diet as something positive. Progressing past the standard view of what a meal “should” look like scared my friends and family. I had to help teach my friends that my change is for me. I don’t judge others for eating meat, but I will get upset if they don’t respect my choice to abstain. I don’t try to “convert” others to join me in being vegetarian. I love it, but it doesn’t mean others will. I always look for the healthier side of life. It jumpstarted my active lifestyle, and made me feel overall like I respect my body. I only get one, and treating it right is a priority.
Changing something about yourself can be hard and scary, but when you know you want/need to change it is important to do so. Don’t be afraid to face your peers. In the end the respect you gain from doing what you feel is right for you will outshine any negativity that comes your way.