Why I went 75% Vegetarian:
Back in high school and college, I had a period in time where I was pescatarian. This period lasted for about three years from when I was 17 until I was a junior in college. Originally, I went vegetarian for several different reasons, mainly with the concerns about animal cruelty after watching one too many depressing animal videos. During my junior year in college, I was an active runner, completing both a half marathon and a full marathon. The reality was that I didn’t do a good job of being a vegetarian in college, especially as a long distance runner. I didn’t get enough iron and protein to successfully function with the strenuous exercise I was completing. After my marathon, I went to the doctor because I was feeling tired all the time. I no longer had the excuse that the long distance running was making my body tired. The doctor ran my blood tests and I had incredibly low iron. Off the chart low iron. They said I needed to take more iron supplements or make a lifestyle change.
Iron is incredibly important to our functioning. Sometimes, eating enough iron to reach healthy blood iron levels can be hard, but it is especially hard for vegetarians due to meat products being a significant source of iron. The reason being that most iron comes from meat. Non-meat foods that are high in iron are spinach (my least favorite vegetable), tofu, broccoli, and beans. As most can imagine, my college diet was anything from stellar. I ate an incredible amount of cheese pizza, snacks, sweets, and soup to sustain myself. Not very healthy. Not a lot of iron. Due to the busyness of my life in college (i.e. A student, full credit load, being an undergraduate teaching assistant, working at a gym, my social life, etc), I didn’t have time to really make those good food choices or cook at home. Also, due to the nature of my long distance running, I also ended up being incredibly weak and not getting enough protein on top of the iron issue. I went back to eating meat after the dismal results of my blood work.
Recently, I had been revisiting the vegetarian lifestyle. Jonathan, my boyfriend, was the one who brought it up. The truth is, eating a lot of meat isn’t good for the environment. Some examples of ways it harms the environment are deforestation, degradation of water and land, emissions, etc. There is an endless amount of articles online that describe more in full the issues with the meat industry. Climate change is a huge issue currently plaguing our society and will continue to do so until changes are made. Jon and I have made a pact to eat only vegetarian during the week and eat some meat (just not as much) on the weekend as a small way to improve the environment. We are not super strict on this plan, but we try to hold each other accountable while not being hard on ourselves.
Even though we are just two people, a little help towards the environment by a lot of people can go a long way. The transition to a partially vegetarian lifestyle has been an easy one really. The first week was hard, but it has been smooth sailing since. Making meals vegetarian is easier than we think. Putting beans in a burrito instead of meat. Making a veggie burger. Making a vegetarian pasta dish. Eating meat on the weekends allows us to eat some of those food choices we love that don’t follow the vegetarian diet. It is a healthy blend of both while actively trying to make a difference. I would recommend it to anyone who has been considering living partially vegetarian or wanting to actively change their lifestyle to positively affect the environment.