It’s been over four years since I took my last bite of meat, and I don’t miss it. I now take bites of broccoli.
I’m what my friends like to call a “video vegetarian.” During my junior year of high school, I watched the documentary “Food, Inc.” in a catering class I was taking. This documentary showed the harmful and very shocking treatment of the animals that we eat every day and how the food produced by these mega corporation farms are unhealthy to eat.
I was surprised and disgusted at what I saw and learned. I had no idea that the chicken I loved and was eating on a day to day basis was being injected with hormones just so it could be fatter. I was stunned that over 70% of processed foods have some kind of genetically modified ingredient in it.
It’s amazing to me that corporations could put profit above the health of its customers. I guess that’s why they call it ‘big business’. They only see dollar signs. After seeing what went on behind the scenes, it was pretty easy for me to stop eating meat.
But let’s take a step back. What was my diet like before I watched this documentary and stopped eating meat? Probably pretty similar to most people. I ate chicken, turkey, and sometimes bacon. I never had much of an appetite for beef and other pork products. I was a typical teenager who craved Chick-fil-A chicken biscuits, drooled over the sight of chicken parmesan, and freaked out (in a good way) over the taste of chicken fajitas. So yeah, I guess you could say meat was part of a normal routine in my diet.
But not anymore.
When you see the extremely graphic images of animals being slaughtered and how they reside in overcrowded warehouses living most of their life standing in their own feces, you’ll come to question what you’re actually eating.
Why would I want to put something in my body that was 1) being treated inhumanely and 2) bad for me? All meat quickly became very unappealing to me. All my friends thought I was crazy and would only last a month. They would ask me questions like “You must miss Chick-fil-A!” and “How can you not eat bacon?”
It’s simple. I just don’t. And to be honest, after the first two weeks or so (I admit, I did want Chick-fil-A chicken biscuits) I really didn’t miss meat at all. The hardest part about going vegetarian was finding good, tasty, filling meals that weren’t just salads. I was a newbie, so I ended up eating a lot of pasta (no complaints) at first.
I soon found other delicious meatless meals just by looking on the internet. There are so many great resources out there to take advantage of, like vegetarian food blogs. (My favorites are Eating Bird Food and Ambitious Kitchen.)
Another question I always receive is, “How do you get enough protein if you aren’t eating meat?” What most people don’t realize is that it’s easy to get protein from foods besides meat. Beans, legumes, nuts, grains, and soy are just a few ways to ensure that I’ll be getting the protein I need. One of my favorite protein sources is lentils, like in this amazing sweet potato and lentil salad. They’re a great addition to soups, stews, and pastas.
For me, not eating meat has changed the way I look at the food I eat. It’s helped me to become more aware of what it takes to make the food I put into my body. I eat more fruits, veggies, and nuts than I ever did before, and I feel fantastic.
“Food, Inc.” caused me to make a major life change, and I’m grateful for that. I’m a “video vegetarian” and that’s cool with me.
If you’re interested in learning more about “Food, Inc.”, you can watch the trailer here. I highly recommend it.