Before my husband and I got married, we watched the documentary Cowspiracy. It was fascinatingly eye-opening (I actually pulled out a notebook and started taking notes). The impact the meat industry has on the environment is astonishing—I’d never have imagined how many resources are used to keep up with the United States’ meat consumption. That’s without considering the way the animals that are mass produced are treated and raised (have you seen a Tyson’s Chicken compared to a healthy one in your neighbor’s backyard? It will make you never want to eat non-farm fresh chicken again.). Then, consider the water and land necessary to hydrate and house all these animals? That’s just the tip of the iceberg…it’s really crazy when you stop to think about it!
Of course, if we didn’t view meat as something we need daily, or even multiple times a day, a lot of the problems would likely start to diminish.
I’m ashamed to admit it, but I used to be one of those people who would incredulously (and, sometimes even mockingly) say, “You’re vegetarian?” Not eating meat seemed absurd to me. Of course, for those who found it genuinely gross, I offered understanding, but I just didn’t really get the whole “not eating meat” thing.
Well, now I’m one of those vegetarians who pretty regularly has to defend my stance (though, I’m working on not feeling like I owe an explanation to anyone).
Sometime before we were married, my husband and I decided that after we returned home from our honeymoon, we would officially adopt a vegetarian lifestyle. He was mostly vegetarian already; I ate meat when I went out or if someone cooked it, but that was about it. I hate to touch raw meat and didn’t buy for myself. We chose vegetarianism for ethical reasons: environmental and due to animal production/treatment/processing.
We experimented with new foods to add into our diet. Whereas avocado had previously been a treat, it was soon a regular item in our fridge. I started researching new and creating my own recipes. It was a lot of fun! My husband was great at broiling tofu and making stir fry dishes. I loved making veggie quinoa with all kinds of summer veggies—one of the highest compliments I received was from meat eaters telling me that hadn’t even realized there was no meat! Plus, we were living in the Asheville area, which made vegetarianism so delicious and so easy! (Whenever we go back to visit, I basically make a list of the places I want to at and then get my friends to go with me.)
Of course, not too long after we were married, I was diagnosed with cancer, so my cooking days abruptly ended (and were what I most looked forward to doing when I recovered). Each time I got strong enough to start cooking again (I’ve now gone through two battles with cancer), I found the kitchen a place of therapy. I’ve utilized Pinterest for all it’s amazing recipes—many of which I make and tweak as I go. And I have enough—when I was in the hospital for my stem cell transplant in January, I couldn’t eat for about two weeks. I was craving so many delicious dishes, I would just sit and scroll through Pinterest searching all my favorite foods.
A couple of months ago I was finally really able to start getting back in the kitchen. It’s been so much fun, especially as the weather has started to change. I’ve experimented with Butternut Squash, curry-ing and coconut-ing everything, and am now working on perfecting the basic biscuit—my mom’s recipe (by perfecting I mean, I’ve made two batches, the second better than the first. I have a long way to go.).
What prompted this post was, you guessed it, finding a couple of new recipes on Pinterest and realizing: I LOVE BEING A VEGETARIAN! (Yes, sometimes I miss meat.) But, it feels like I’m on an exploration adventure! I’ve gotten to try so many amazing dishes, learned how to get the amount of protein I need (which was higher after my stem cell transplant), and generally eat even more veggies than ever before. I rarely feel like I’m missing out on anything. And, yeah, it’s kind of fun to be different…but also, I feel like I’ve gained a new community: it’s like, “You’re a vegetarian? Me too!” Instant bond.
This post is brought to you because: I love being a vegetarian and wanted to share.
Also, check out the documentary or do some independent research into the meat industry. At the very least, consider limiting your consumption and buying from a local, ethical farm so that you know you’re getting a quality product…and supporting a small business!
And if you come to my house, especially currently, you’ll probably smell Indian spices, because I can’t seem to get enough. Or cozy, winter, comfort food (like this lentil stew on mashed potatoes that is basically a reverse shepherds pie. It’s amazing.).