When I was about 13 years old I stumbled upon an animal rights video on Facebook. The graphic video made me cry for an hour. I had never put much thought into exactly what was on my plate or how it got there. I knew my favorite food was hot wings and that was about it. I tried to become a vegetarian the next day but I couldn’t bring myself to give up meat. Every year since then I would try to be a vegetarian but the longest I lasted was 29 days. That chicken noodle soup or BLT was calling my name every night and I couldn’t bring myself to choose an alternative.

Fast forward to now. I’m 20 years old and I have been a vegetarian for 6 months! That might not seem like a long time but it’s a huge accomplishment to me. Yes, I get enough protein and yes, I eat really good food. Giving up meat has actually made a hugely positive impact on my life.

1. I’m more conscious of what I eat. Did you know some enchilada sauces have chicken broth in them? I read the label of almost every sodium-based food item I purchase just in case it contains animal properties. By doing this, I’ve gotten into the habit of reading every label for every food item I buy in general. This has inspired me to be more mindful about what I’m putting into my body.

2. I found out how much I love to cook. Because I need to make up for the protein I’m not consuming through meat, I’ve had to get a little creative in the kitchen. I’m also not able to cook an easy chicken dish in the crockpot, so I’ve been forced to go beyond my comfort zone in terms of cooking. Now, I aim to try a new recipe every week.

3. I’m more aware of food production. I try to understand how what I’m eating was made. For example, hot dogs are cancer on a bun. The products allowed in hot dogs shouldn’t be allowed in anything consumed by humans…let’s leave it at that. That’s another reason I enjoy cooking for myself, it feels safer.

4. I’m more empathetic. This is toward humans, toward animals, even some bugs (let’s not get crazy). I had gotten into the habit of blaming everything on the actions of others instead of trying to understand why they’re doing what they’re doing or why something is happening. Now I try to take a step back, listen, learn and better understand what is going on around me.

5. I live a healthier lifestyle. Instead of getting a burger at a fast food restaurant, I have to cook for myself. Cooking for yourself is healthier most of the time and I can control the portions. However, I do let myself splurge at Taco Bell (the holy grail of vegetarian fast food) from time to time.

6. I purchase different beauty products. When I say I absolutely love makeup, that’s an understatement. I’ve spent a profuse amount of money on makeup throughout the years. I’d heard that some companies tested on animals but I figured it was just the cheaper brands so I didn’t really pay any mind to it. Then, I found out that my favorite brand in the whole entire world began testing on animals. I was actually crushed. Don’t worry, this makeup sob story has a happy ending. I found other brands that were cruelty-free that I absolutely loved even more than my ex-favorite brand. Take that, animal abusers.  

7. I purchase different clothing items. Just like the makeup, I hadn’t paid any mind to clothing items made of fur or leather. Fur was glamorous and leather was chic. When I started to research it further, I realized that fur and leather were not things I wanted to be wearing.

8. I found out I am capable of making difficult changes for the better. The main takeaway from this whole list is that I finally committed to something I had wanted to do for 7 years. I don’t care if my family or friends eat meat, wear leather or use certain makeup brands. I did it for myself because I cared about something. I’m proud of myself and who I am for the changes I made. If you’ve been waiting to do something you’ve wanted to do for a long time- stop waiting and go for it!

And you can all rest assured that I found a vegetarian alternative to hot wings.
Have you had a vegetarian experience of your own? Let us know in the comments below!

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