OPINION, Grades 10–12, 3rd Place
People always cringe when I bring up the “V word.” They go, “Eww,” or “I could never do that,” and then they start asking me questions about it.
I became a vegetarian two years ago. Mainly because I was always curious about it, but eventually I made the choice to give up meat entirely.
Believe it or not, making the switch isn’t that hard. The world produces enough protein substitutes to be able to sustain life without eating meat. You have black beans, red beans, chickpeas. You have soy products such as tofu, or textured vegetable protein and protein supplements like protein powder that you can put into milkshakes, juices or smoothies. You can find these foods at almost any mainstream supermarket. So it really isn’t that hard, people are just hesitating because it’s not their normal.
What’s more difficult to believe is how people would still eat meat, especially with all of the riff-raff about meat. You can’t always trust the source. For example, antibiotics get injected into the meat to rid it from disease. Some animals are fed growth hormones and steroids to plump them up for butchering, and these chemicals damage human health. Some of the environments are so compact that the animals are stuck in their own excrement, and some eat that. And we end up putting that into our body. There is so much bad rap about red meats and how dirty the pens that chickens and turkeys live in are. People always question the people who make the switch but they never ask “why” nor do they go out of their way to do some research and educate themselves on the topic.
Vegetarianism is the practice of not consuming meat. When I announced I was going vegetarian, I was immediately hit with questions such as “how can you not eat meat?” “So you can’t eat eggs, milk, cheese, or meat?” Or “but what about bacon?" That stuff wasn’t as important to me as keeping my body clean and practicing good eating habits. You only get one body, so it would make sense that I would want to take care of it.
Being a vegetarian doesn’t mean that you are giving up eggs and cheese and milk as well as meat. That’s veganism. When people hear the words “vegan” or “vegetarian” they get scared, as if someone is trying to force them to join them with making the switch. Some honestly might but not all of us. The difference between being a vegetarian and a vegan is what they eat. A vegan won’t eat any products that come from an animal which means meat, eggs and dairy products. Some even go as far as not wearing any products that are tested on animals, or wear clothes that are made from animal fur. A vegetarian will not eat meat but will eat eggs and dairy products. And as far as clothing goes it depends on the person.
There are many benefits to being a vegetarian. Some that I’ve noticed are clearer skin, my hair feels softer and I have more energy. Of course, everyone’s body responds differently to diet changes. So I wouldn’t recommend vegetarianism to everyone. One thing I do say is don’t say "no" until you say "yes," like a “don’t knock it until you try it” type of thing. It’s good to try something different every once in a while. Try it at least once and if you don’t like it then great, you don’t have to do it again. If you do like it, also great, try different recipes.
There’s no harm in going vegetarian. There’s also no reason to judge.