I was in fourth grade when I first heard the word vegetarian. With an air of superiority, my best friend told me she had been a vegetarian for a year. Confused and curious, I asked her what a vegetarian was, and why she decided to become one. Rather than responding with words, my friend showed me an internet video called The Meatrix, which explained what factory farming is — all while mimicking the blockbuster movie, The Matrix. Despite its comical nature, I was profoundly affected by what I saw and heard during the 4-minutes-and-53-second film.
After the short film ended, I laughed nervously. “So," I said, "I am guessing that a vegetarian is someone that doesn’t eat meat?”
“Yup,” my friend said. “Instead, we eat tofu and other stuff.”
Despite my friend's lackluster description, and not having a clue what I was getting myself into, at that very moment, I decided I was in. I was officially a vegetarian.
Fast-forward 12 years later: I am still a vegetarian. It is the most dedicated I have been to anything — ever. While I would never push vegetarianism on anyone, there are many benefits of my lifestyle. I love my body and Mother Nature in ways I never thought possible. By not eating meat or seafood, I am forced to supplement my diet with other forms of protein. Without meat in my life, I consider what I will be digesting before the actual biological process begins. Before eating, I always ask myself questions: Will eating this make me feel good? Will this make me feel energized or sluggish?
I am a devoted animal lover: That's why I became a vegetarian more than a decade ago. Choosing not to eat meat gives me a greater connection to animals, and has improved my relationship with the world around me. My knowledge of how the earth produces my sustenance has given me a significant amount of respect for nature. Without this planet and its flora, I couldn't survive as a herbivore. Appreciating our planet has encouraged me to spend more time outside. Since becoming a plant-eater, I have spent more time hiking, writing poetry about nature, photographing my surroundings and meditating outdoors. To put it simply, my increased love of nature has fulfilled me mentally, emotionally, creatively and physically.
As the only vegetarian in my family, I act independently when it comes to the food my family purchases and consumes. I research the ingredients that are best for vegetarians, buy my own food and make my own meals. By preparing my own meals I have a heightened sense of awareness about how the food I eat affects my body. My mental and physical selves are bonded. Through vegetarianism, I have discovered self-love and a greater sense of purpose.
It is weird and fascinating to look back on my past decisions and see how they affect me now. When I was 8 years old, I never thought a snap decision would make me a happier, healthier person in the long run. I never thought becoming a vegetarian would bring me closer to my body and to the environment.
The takeaway: Trust yourself. You never know where your intuition will take you during your life’s travels.