Linder’s Lessons: Becoming vegetarian

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Arrington Linder

"Understand: the task of an activist is not to negotiate systems of power with as much personal integrity as possible-it's to dismantle those systems."- Lierre Keith

Arrington Linder, Editor-in-Chief

I have always had a love for animals from a young age, but I never really thought about the harm I was doing to them until I got older. As I have become more aware of what is happening in the world right now, I have thought more about the choices I make, including something as simple as what I eat. While some of the world’s problems could be solved or helped by decreasing meat consumption, I am not trying to convince you to give up eating meat.

I have been vegetarian for over a year now and it has impacted me in more ways than one. Ever since ‘quitting’ meat, I have overall felt healthier and better about the food I am consuming. Sticking to plant-based foods has expanded my horizons, allowing myself to find more and new ways to help the environment other than not eating meat, such as bringing my own cup every time I go somewhere and switching to a bamboo toothbrush.

While being vegetarian is overall healthier, according to Blue Cross, “vegetarians also have a lower risk of obesity, hypertension, and of developing diabetes or cardiovascular diseases.” Knowing that I am positively affecting my health in the long run eases my mind. Being vegetarian is not just cutting meat out of my daily life, it also opens up more opportunities for me to be more aware about other things going on around myself and the world.

Although becoming more self-aware is a good thing, at times, it can also be a bad thing. I have gotten so used to eating a certain way that when I see someone doing something different, I start to think, ‘oh, they should be doing this, not that.’ I am my own person, as is everyone else. If I see myself starting to judge someone for their food choices, I stop myself. I do not want to become someone who judges other people if they do not do exactly what I do. While certain things can influence your decisions, the only person who can make decisions for you, is yourself.

As a vegetarian in Texas, I have gotten a lot of comments such as, “why do you think we have canine teeth if you do not eat meat?” I get many of these comments if I am out with family that I rarely see, or people that are partially against my morals and while I want to stick up for myself and what I believe in, I do not. By sticking up for myself, some people might think that I am trying to force my beliefs onto them, when they are actually the ones forcing their beliefs onto me. Even some of my close family and friends will make jokes about me being a vegetarian and while it may be amusing to them, it is not amusing to me.

Although it could seem like I am preaching about how I am a better person than you because I do not consume meat, I am simply explaining how cutting meat out of my life has impacted me and my experiences with it. While I have cut out meat for almost a year and a half, I still consume some animal products. I have switched my typical coffee creamer to almond milk. By doing this, I have significantly reduced my dairy intake, in turn reducing the amount of animal products I consume.

Since becoming vegetarian, I have felt like a better person, mentally and physically. Knowing I am doing something to help not only the environment and animals, but also my health, has made me feel not as ‘sluggish’ as when I ate meat or dairy. Granted, I am still consuming dairy, but only in small quantities. Cutting out dairy coffee creamer eliminated the majority of my dairy intake and I am now only eating it in small portions of things like chocolate and ice cream.

Vegetarianism has changed me for the better and while I still continue to consume some animal products, I know I am helping the world, even if just by a little bit. I am not perfect, no one is, but I do believe that everything each and every one of us does impacts the world in some way.