I believe that Americans should more conscious when selecting meat as the cornerstone of almost every meal. We should think critically and challenge the dogmas that guide our daily routines. We particularly owe it to ourselves when examining such a perpetual act like eating. Why do we include what we do in our diets? Most young Americans would place taste as the ruling factor, but one day, a few years ago, I leapt into a major lifestyle reform. Galvanized by the pool of incite provided by a few respected peers and personal rumination on my beliefs, I became a vegetarian.
Like much of the general public, I spent the majority of my life as an omnivore. But despite the casual food routine, I had several unsettling experiences that always managed to neutralize my appetite. Weather it was examining the elastic blood vessels in my chicken legs, biting on occasional bone fragments in my hamburgers or getting a mouthful of fat in my carnitas burrito, there was something about those poignant sensory perceptions that I could not help but link to images in my mind between those animal tissues and my own anatomy.
I had never heard about someone abstaining from animal flesh until I was almost a teen, watching an episode of The Simpsons, in which the vegans were mocked for most of the show. The first compelling reasons I had heard for choosing a vegetarian diet was from a girl I dated. She explained in some length about how the human body is designed to digest plant material and how commercial fishing damages coral reefs and endangers fish populations. Ironically, the conversation took taking place when I was dropping her off at work on my way to a Sushi brunch.
A year or so later, I was introduced to a friend of a friend. She was the first Jainist I had met and I was fascinated at how the nonviolent aspect of her religion’s doctrine spanned beyond the vegan diet to also exclude root vegetables in order to preserve the plants’ lives. She noticed my enthusiasm and suggested a simple experiment to quell my curiosity: that I not eat meat for two weeks and see how I like it. Her two week proposal expanded into a personal, one year challenge. When I reached my mark and I was to be absolved of my inconvenient rigor, I found myself unwilling to revert back to my previous habits. At first, I was confused by this Stockholm Syndrome-like feeling of attachment but then realized that this regiment practice had evolved into an annex of my being.
Since then, I have found many more valid reasons for not yielding to convenience. The importance of the maintaining a diet low in saturated fats, growth hormones, and drugs; the excessive land, water, and grain resources used to raise livestock; and the topsoil, rain forests, and ozone that are destroyed to produce something that is not necessary have become priorities for me.