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If I Can Be Vegetarian, Anyone Can!

I grew up in a real “meat and potatoes” type of family. Every single time we sat down at the table to eat, the center dish contained meat.

There was only one unquestioned assumption of our daily meals – meat would be the center of them. There were no “Meatless Mondays” or plain pasta sauce in our house. That was just life.

Maybe that is why I also grew up with such an aversion to vegetables. My mom would sometimes serve them with meals, but usually as an afterthought; unless baked potatoes count, because those things were nearly always on the plate. I can vividly recall one night when my mother told me I couldn’t leave the table until I finished my carrots. At midnight, one of us finally relented but I assure you that it wasn’t me.

So it stands to reason that my family was pretty surprised when I announced that I wasn’t eating meat anymore. Me? The girl who hated vegetables was somehow going to become a vegetarian? Impossible.

As a vegetarian, I don’t lack for tasty food around our house! Every night is different and delicious from risotto with fresh salads to corn chowder dressed with spinach, and even roasted chickpea and cucumber salad with a Greek yogurt dressing!

I assure you that it is indeed possible, and in fact, it is a lifestyle that I am enjoying more every single day. My husband, fiancé at the time, first approached me with the idea. He is a biomedical research scientist and could go on for hours about the tremendous health benefits of a plant-based diet.

Additionally, he has strong beliefs about the ethical implications of how our country raises and slaughters animals for consumption. I admit, I never really liked the idea of eating “something with a face” so to speak, but as awful as it sounds, that just was never enough to really sway me to convert. I had spent years growing up eating meat without thinking twice about it. It was engrained in me. So it was going to take a whole lot more than that to get me to officially kick the habit.

That’s when my husband made an entirely different case for becoming a vegetarian – a case for my own health.

Once I heard the hard health facts and combined those with the truth about animal farming in America, as well as the vast amount of environmental troubles (not the mention poverty and world hunger issues) that are caused by consumption of meat, I really couldn’t help but change my tune.

Eating a diet high in animal protein during middle age leads to a much high cancer risk than people who don’t eat animal protein. In fact, the risk is so high that the mortality risk factor can be compared to people who smoke! I’m serious.

Eating meat is actually bad for your bones! Research has shown that you have an increased risk for Osteoporosis if you eat animal protein because it leaches calcium from your bones and causes acid to slowly dissolve them.

Heart disease is the number one killer of Americans but vegetarians cut their risk of heart disease by a whopping 32%.

Now when we venture to the supermarket, our cart is full of fresh colorful items! That’s how we know that we’re only taking in the good stuff!

Granted, I haven’t been on this path long but I can already feel the benefits. I have more energy throughout the day. I am more adventurous than I’ve ever been about trying new foods, though I will admit I am still a bit of a picky eater.

Most importantly, I now feel confident that I am actively taking steps to drastically cut my risks of cancer, heart disease, high cholesterol, and more. To me, that means that I will be able to live out all the life in my years to the fullest. That means more time with that dorky husband of mine and more time with all the dorky kids we will hopefully have in the future.

Maybe that’s why I am so adamant now that people at least give the vegetarian lifestyle a chance, or maybe consider going meatless several days a week. When you look around at the people that you love most, what wouldn’t you give up in order to spend more time in this world with them?

For me, I can easily pass on the chicken fingers and the cheeseburgers if it means that I am taking a stance against animal cruelty and helping the environment while also adding years to my life. I think perhaps the technical term for that situation is called “win-win!”