Since the middle of October 2016, I have been a vegetarian. Despite all the assumptions, my decision to become vegetarian was not as spontaneous as I made it out to be. In fact, I had made this venture a few years ago and have been following a similar lifestyle ever since, so the commitment was not super difficult. But don’t get me wrong, it’s definitely a commitment and lifestyle adjustment that hasn’t been taken lightly.
I have never been a HUGE meat eater. Sure, I definitely enjoy a nice juicy burger, chicken tacos, and crave the occasional side of bacon at brunch. But I would rarely cook meat at home or go out of my way to buy it. So, throughout this transition, I have never felt deprived. I truly believe that with the growing options to eat “veggie” or “green” in the city, it has never been easier to survive on a plant-based lifestyle.
Why make this choice? I have a handful of food allergies (all seafood and nuts), and for as long as I can remember, have a sensitive stomach to various things that I have still yet to pinpoint. Just like a huge majority of individuals, I have discovered that I am lactose intolerant, but the occasional discomfort in my stomach still lingers. It’s frustrating to feel uncomfortable every time I eat something – this uncontrollable pain or being bloated makes me self-conscious, and the inability to avoid this truly effects my self-confidence.
Do I believe that my avoidance to meat is going to solve this problem? Not necessarily. If anything, being vegetarian makes it more difficult as I now have to try and consume sufficient amounts of protein and nutrients, but in different forms. The decision to be vegetarian is a mix of contributing to society in a sustainable and ethical way, and a test to see how my body reacts to such change. I still want to maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle, so please don’t assume I’m doing this as a “quick-fix diet”, because I’m not that naive.
People have warned me that I might be judged or frowned upon when they find out I’m vegetarian. But trust me, this has been my whole life. For some reason, as soon as I say I’m allergic to something, it becomes this whole ordeal while ordering food. It’s funny, because it feels like those not allergic to anything are more concerned than those with the actual allergy. The initial response by most people are scepticism and confusion to why I would voluntarily choose this lifestyle (in addition to my allergies), but why do I need to justify this decision? So long as I am doing it in a healthy and smart way, it shouldn’t really be anyone else’s concern.
Being vegetarian is becoming increasingly popular, and no – I am not doing it to join some sort of health bandwagon, because trust me – I miss that greasy late night grub without having to question whether something has meat in it. I am doing it for my own personal health and happiness. I encourage everyone to try it, even if it’s once a week (hello, Meatless Monday), but I also understand it’s not for everyone. At the end of the day, only you know what is best for yourself and that’s all that matters.
On that note, if you have any amazing vegetarian or vegan recipes – please feel free to share, I’d love to hear your experiences!