I’ve been a vegetarian for six weeks. Like most things, it has had its struggles and advantages. First of all, I love meat. I love ribs, steak, chicken, brisket, sea food and ham. Especially the way my dad barbecues. I made this decision because the animals that meat comes from are treated poorly before they are slaughtered. They are often kept in a single dark room their entire lives, eating food that is killing them. Baby chicks are beheaded as soon as they are born, and we are fishing for seafood faster than the fish can reproduce. I, unfortunately, cannot afford to buy meat that comes from animals who have happy lives, so the best option was to make a lifestyle change.

To be clear, I’m a vegetarian, not a vegan. I still consume products that come from animals like milk and eggs. There are a lot of misconceptions about what vegetarians can and cannot eat. Some vegetarians even eat sea food for health reasons, but I decided to drop that as well.

You never realize how much you use or enjoy something until you can do so no longer. Every time I go out to eat, my instinct is to order something with chicken. I ordered a mushroom and spinach omelet once and I thought it would be delicious, but it ended up being disgusting. Going out to eat is difficult, because not many places have vegetarian options, other than salad, and it gets old eating salad everyday. The only places that have good variety are Italian restaurants, but that’s all carbs, so where can one find a balance? It’s also been difficult, because whenever my boyfriend and I cook dinner or I go over to my parents house, we always have to make something separate for me.

The first two weeks were easy. The second two weeks were really difficult and the last couple weeks have been the easiest. I’ve been eating more salad, yogurt, peanut butter and a lot of eggs. Since I’m pretty broke, my best strategy for a full tummy (that’s easy on my wallet) was to buy a big bag of frozen vegetables and a pack of swirly pasta. You steam the veggies, mix them with pasta, and add garlic with a sprinkle of cheese. It’s the only time I feel completely full.

The biggest challenge of being a vegetarian for me personally is that I don’t like many vegetables. And in spite of these (albeit pathetic) struggles, I have been surprised to find some good things about it. For one, I’m not as moody as I was before. I don’t know how that’s possible as I’m often not satisfied after a meal, yet I feel energetic, productive and I’ve been finding myself happier. It’s been a while, so maybe my body has gotten used to the change of diet and appreciates the added nutrition from more vegetables.

I’m also less hungry throughout the day, so I’ve been snacking less and thus I’ve lost five pounds. I’ve been able wake up at reasonable times with less struggle. I don’t know if I am necessarily healthier, but I am happier. I’m also not feeling guilty, which could sometimes ruin the enjoyment of eating meat.

According to livestrong.com, those on vegetarian diets are expected to live longer and have lower blood pressure, as long as you’re eating food that actually healthy instead of relying on sugars and carbs.
I have met more vegans and vegetarians at the University of Utah than I have my whole life, and it’s usually for similar reasons. Several of my friends have also started their journeys as vegetarians and making a huge change like this has been better with other people. It makes me glad to see so many people recognizing a problem and refusing to contribute to it. At our age that’s really all we can do. I look forward to the day when I can eat some barbecue ribs and not feel guilty about it.

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