Why I'm Vegetarian

7:22 PM

Vegetarianism: my journey and its little known effects.
Vegetarian. If approached with the topic two or three years back, I would have been repulsed. As a child, I was a die-hard carnivore and not ashamed of it. Meat is a staple in Mexican cuisine, so I was raised with tacos and carne asada on the brain. Giving it up seemed an impossible feat, something I would have sworn never to do. A couple years later, going sans-meat was occurring in a number of my family and friends. At their recommendations, I watched multiple documentaries highlighting the benefits of it in the usual ways: ethically, economically, and nutritionally. Seeing the brutal treatment of industry animals, how cheap the diet was, and the health advantages did to what it did to most people; I appreciated the concept, but would not budge on my lifestyle. That was the way it remained for a while. I would possess the will to make the change, but not the willpower to execute it. The information seemed to linger on my mind, but would not seep in. Fast forward to me now, a proud vegetarian for over 6 months (and counting). What incited me to finally take the plunge?

Freshman year, biology class. Our teacher assigned us a "wedges" project, inspired by the National Geographic-released plan to combat global emission levels. Each "wedge" represented an action, be it stopping all increasing the use of wind power by 25 times or manufacturing 2 billion electrical cars. Among the wedges under "renewables and biostorage" arose the topic of agriculture. I was interested to see how agriculture played a part in the bigger picture. as global warming invokes ideas of just transportation and factories pumping carbon into the air. While researching, I came across this astounding fact: livestock is responsible for 15% of greenhouse gas emissions- more than all the world's planes, trains, and cars combined. How? The 1.5 billion cows on this planet produce methane through their waste product, which has 25 times more planet warming potential than CO2. At that, I also found that 26% of the world's ice-free land is used for livestock grazing, and 33% of croplands are used for livestock feed production. This is deforested land (another cause of our emissions) created simply for the use of raising the animals we consume. I am passionate about the environment, especially with global warming and climate change. Once, when giving a current event report on the detrimental effects of our actions on the planet, I was almost in tears! So, it is evident that hearing this information on how this lifestyle and our emissions go hand in hand left me truly shook. That was the push I needed. My project ended up focusing on the possibility of the world going vegetarian, and how it would make considerable progress on all the damage we have caused. Methane production would decrease substantially, and land would be used to plant oxygen producing crops. This project was the thing that held the most impact to my decision of finally living meat-free. Among the ethical, economic, and nutritional reasons that drew me to the idea, the environment is what motivated me to actually do it. 
Image found here.

I recommend trying out vegetarianism wholeheartedly. No matter what causes you might advocate for (charitable or selfish), I promise the veg lifestyle holds some advantage to it. Want to feel, and look, better? Consuming a plant based diet is proven to lower diabetes, heart disease, cancer risk, and much more. Plus, you get to avoid the chances of eating something contaminated. Going full-on vegan also improves the appearance of your skin, nails, hair, and body. Need to save money? Not only is vegetarianism a cheaper option individually, but it can also improve our economy worldwide. Want to fight animal cruelty? There are countless documentaries and articles showcasing the abusive treatment in factory farming, institutions one supports by consuming their products. Care about world hunger? Obesity? Population growth? Being a vegetarian can make you part of the solution to these issues. It sounds a little too gimmicky, but all these pros, and more, are facts. If you want to jump in, I would say to do intensive, thorough research to make sure all the nutrients are being supplied to the body adequately (B12, a vitamin found only in animal products, is important. In these scenarios, supplements are needed). Having a partner is helpful in maintaining accountability, but it is just as possible to do it independently. When slipping seems close, recall the reasons that caused this change. In the words of Nike: Just do it!  The way I see it, doing something good for oneself and the world will be infinitely times better than the taste of a hamburger.

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