Freshman year of high school, I decided to become a vegetarian. Ever since then, I am constantly being asked "Why go vegetarian?" Why would I ever give up delicious, mouth-watering meat? This is a valid question. From my mom's homemade chicken wontons to the classic Portillo's hamburger, I loved meat. 

On the other hand, I didn't love the idea of eating animals. Even worse, I definitely didn't love the idea of animals needlessly suffering. One day I decided that if I didn't need meat to live, so why contribute to the death of other living beings?

Animals cruelty was enough for me to set down my fork and knife on steak night, but what about others?

I asked four Marquette University students why they swore off meat and discovered a variety of answers and lifestyles.

Sophie Bolich: Vegetarian for 3 years 

Sophie Bolich

Favorite Food: Peanut Butter 

Sophie Bolich remembers watching documentaries about the meat industry her sophomore year of high school. Since then, Bolich's reasons for becoming a vegetarian have expanded.

"After I saw those things, it was hard for me to think about eating meat again."

Bolich's concern for the environment is shared by many others, including other scientists and Spoon writers.

"Factory farming contributes more than any other source to greenhouse gases. That's one of the most threatening problems facing our environment, and it really is a big issue that is happening right now," Bolich said. 

While Bolich is passionate about vegetarianism, she remarked that she realizes how much of a lifestyle change not eating meat is. 

"There are other things to do if people really care about the environment like not buying more than you need to or walking places that you can. It doesn't all come down to food."

Bolich is the photo director for Spoon's Marquette University chapter. You can view her profile here.

Akshar Patel: Vegetarian for life

beer, tea, coffee, cake
Jenny Whidden

Favorite food: Pizza

As common as meat is for the majority of people, it's far from normal for Akshar Patel, who has been a vegetarian for his whole life.

"I'm Hindu, and one of our core values is to not harm other animals. I've just been raised to believe that harming another living thing is wrong," said Patel.

While Patel doesn't have trouble finding vegetarian options on campus, he does worry about the practicality of a meat-free diet. He says that not getting enough protein as well as finding vegetarian foods while travelling are some of his prominent concerns.

"I've been questioning it a lot ever since I came to college. It's very limiting not being able to eat meat," said Patel.

Anusha Das: Vegetarian for 3 months

beer, pizza
Jenny Whidden

Favorite food: Sandwiches

Anusha Das swore off meat three months ago, but red meat has not made an appearance in her diet for seven years now. 

"When I was 10, I saw this animal abuse commercial. There was a video of a tractor hitting a cow, and I got really sad so I just told my mom, 'I'm done,'" Das said.

Das continued to eat white meat, but that changed last December when she watched a video by a vegan YouTuber.

"She was talking about how it's so mean that we just eat animals, and I was like 'That's pretty messed up. Why am I not a vegetarian?,'" Das reflected.

Since making the change, Das adjusted quickly and doesn't have much difficulty finding vegetarian options both on and off campus.

"Nowadays especially there's always a vegetarian option, and it's always just as good or even better than the meat ones," Das said. 

Nuriyah Rasool: Vegan for 3 years

pizza, tea, coffee, beer
Jenny Whidden

Favorite food: French fries

Nuriyah Rasool stopped eating meat three years ago, but didn't stop there. Rasool decided to become vegan, adding animal by-products to her list of no-nos. 

"My religion, Islam, teaches us to be kind and compassionate towards animals. That doesn't mean we can't eat them, but that is why most Muslims choose to eat kosher or Halal," said Rasool.

Despite such norms, Rasool remarked that she does not trust an industry of mass production, in which the quality of life an animal receives is nonexistent. 

Rasool decided to become a vegan overnight, but she was never a big fan of meat or cheese and found them easy to avoid. For others, she recommends doing whatever works for them, whether that be a slow transition or an on-the-spot change. 

"Find alternatives to what you would normally eat, just so you could fix your cravings in accordance to the new lifestyle," said Rasool.

There are endless reasons for going vegetarian or vegan. If you've found yours, Spoon University has the guides and tips to get you where you want to be.