One Year Anniversary of being a Vegetarian

A year ago I embarked on a new commitment to be a vegetarian. This last year has been easier than I thought it was going to be because I use to LOVE bacon and steak! Now I’ve found new foods to love like asparagus, brussel sprouts, and homemade smoothies.

To be honest, the toughest part of this last year was dealing with people. Most of the time, people were just naive and asked polite questions. But then there were some people who would try to tempt me with a steak or they would tell me I was stupid. I’m not sure what eating meat has to do with being smart?!?! But for the most part people were pretty supportive and after asking their initial first questions they dropped the conversation. Majority of the questions I was asked was why I became a vegetarian and if there was anything I could eat. This latter question makes me laugh a little and I wonder what people are taught or what people (don’t) know about food.

Regardless of the ignorant people I’ve dealt with, I’m so happy I became a vegetarian! I feel like I get to make a small difference every day by protecting the planet and saving the lives of animals, which was why I became a vegetarian in the first place! Cheers to another year!

If I had a Magic Wand

I found this website via Pinterest that talked about giving people a Magic Wand. People just decide the things they want done and the wand makes it happen. **If I was still in the education system I think this would be a cool writing prompt at the beginning and end of a geography or government class.

So I started thinking about what I would do with my magic wand. I don’t believe in just giving hand-outs to people who haven’t worked or earned it but I also know there are many people who truly need help. I also believe that many of the speeches given by world leaders and pageant girls is “solutions to the symptoms, not the problems” type of thinking, and I don’t necessarily agree with that. So here’s what I would do with my Magic Wand:

*I would want everyone to have a job that they loved and were good at – whether that be a doctor, a teacher, a cab driver, or whatever. If everyone has a job then they have income and could provide at least basic needs for them and their families.

*Since I believe the population is already over populated I would want my magic wand to “create” zero population growth. Not that families couldn’t have children, but that the many, many, many kids that are abandoned and in foster care could finally get adopted and feel love and the warmth of a family.

*I would also want everyone to be at least a vegetarian if not a vegan. The world now chops down more rainforest for grazing than agriculture. Meaning we are cutting down forests to make cows fat for our own consumption. That’s just one negative consequence of consuming meat – do a quick Google search for impacts of consuming meat and you’ll see dozens of consequences: animal abuse, excess water usage, starving children around the globe, increased chemicals and hormones in your body, large amounts of animal waste, runoff and land degradation to name a few others. Here’s NPR’s story on eating meat, you can skip the first 1 minute and 40 seconds and stop about 6 minutes and 38 seconds, which talks about other NPR stories.

*I would also re-do local, national, and international infrastructure to be more sustainable with more mass commuting types of transportation. I firmly believe if we had bullet trains running all over the nation that would cut on a lot of carbon emissions from the millions of vehicles on the road and that people would prefer to take a bullet train that lasts three to five hours to get from LA to New York instead of driving or flying, which are both tedious and expensive. If there were more light-rails, and subways, and Personal Rapid Transit, I think people would appreciate the convenience and the time savings from not sitting in two hours of traffic everyday.

*I would want companies to think about cradle-to-grave manufacturing and produce goods and products that could always be recycled and reused. This would also lead to less “stuff” being taken out of the ground, chopped down, or used once and thrown away.

*I would do away with all the bureaucratic BS that surrounds the school system (at least in the United States). I would want teachers to teach life skills while also teaching content but in a way that’s FUN and meaningful. I’m taking graduate classes and I can’t even stand when the professor lectures for 3 hours, why do we expect that of high school students?! There were so many ideas I wanted to do as a teacher but they didn’t follow the standards 100% or didn’t set the students up to be successful on the state standardized testing.

*Which leads me to my next action: do away with standardized testing, at least the way it currently stands in the United States – it’s demeaning and doesn’t show what students can actually do or what students actually think; it only separates the students who know how to take a test vs. the students who don’t know how to take a test. I saw this kid speak in Loveland this summer and was so impressed by him! His talk is called, “Would Einstein get into Harvard?” And it talks about how the ACT and SAT are ruining high school students, and I couldn’t agree more. I’m so against standardized testing that I took it until I graduated middle school and haven’t taken a state or national standardized test yet! I went to schools that didn’t require ACT or SAT for admittance or at least didn’t require it of me after I had a degree, and I went to a graduate school that doesn’t require a GRE to get in either.

*I would also ask the Magic Wand to implement a flat tax everywhere! People complain about lack of fairness when it comes to the government and taxes, but what’s more fair than everyone paying the same amount?! How is it anymore fair to over-tax Bill Gates than an immigrant who moves to the United States, becomes an entrepreneur and creates wealth for them and their family?! It’s not! If everyone pays the same across the board – that’s fair!

*I would want everyone to take a class or seminar or something that taught people how to properly communicate with one another, like how to fight fair, and how to disagree with someone’s point of view without degrading the person, and basic conversation skills. I meet so many people at my restaurant that have no idea how to talk to another human being.

*I would also want the death penalty for those who did heinous crimes, specifically anything to do with children or animals. The fact that if we did away with the prison system we could send every student in America (including illegal immigrants)  to school from kindergarten all the way through 4 years of college is disgusting! (This statistic comes from Waiting for Superman). That money could be better spent on education children and creating a better and bright world, not keeping scumbags alive.

As you can see, I didn’t ask for world peace or for everyone to get along because that’s not practical to me because there will always be conflicts and problems. I know in looking at my list, there is a few items that are pretty controversial and I feel like that’s acceptable. Not everyone would want the same things I want if they too had a Magic Wand. I could probably keep adding and adding to my list, but I feel like this is a good start at solving majority of the world’s current problems! What would you do with your Magic Wand?

 

3 Months (and Counting) as a Vegetarian

Back in April I made the life choice to become a vegetarian. I did so by reducing the amount of meat I ate each week until the end of April when I finally quit eating meat altogether. I finally did so because I couldn’t stand the thought of animals being abused, neglected, and forced to spend their lives in a crate or confined area, Fast Food Nation certainly helped with this visual! But I also realized that being an environmentalist and a meat-eater was kind of a contradiction. Eating meat contributes to rainforests being cut down, particularly in the Amazon; it’s also a waste of freshwater resources, and contributes to increased greenhouse gases emissions = yikes! I’ve also learned about the different animals that I was consuming and how intelligent they are! Cows grieve, experience stress, and can be happy.  Same with chickens and sheep. My dog has these same experiences, and I would never think about eating her, so how could I justify eating a cow or chicken that experiences the same emotions that I do!

This last 3 months have been both a struggle and a blessing. Here’s my small list of Pros and Cons.

Cons

-I’ve had to plan and think out more of what I eat

-I don’t always get to participate in family dinners because they contain meat

-Ignorant people asking me where I get my protein from. Trust me there is plenty of other food that has more protein per ounce than meat does!!

-Sometimes it would be nice to have a steak

Pros

-I’ve had to spend more time planning my meals and thinking about what goes into my body. (YES, I realize I also listed this as a con, but it’s also a pro too). I spend more time thinking about my food and things I’m consuming. I think I know more about what goes into my body before I became a vegetarian.

-I’ve discovered a ton of new food that I love! Asparagus, zucchini, brussel sprouts, different types of onions, peppers, soy milk, almond milk, and so on. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m more open minded about the foods i’m trying or what, but all the healthy stuff tastes sooooo good lately. I’ve also been cooking food that I may not have thought about before, such as avocado dark chocolate brownies.

-When our family goes out to eat for dinner at place that are dominate by meat (such as Outback) I’ve been able to try new foods that I may not have tried otherwise

-I know i’m making a positive difference and every time I crave a steak I just remember the good thing i’m doing

-I get to educate people on their choices too. For example, my family has not yet moved to the vegetarian side (yet), but they did buy half a cow from a local farmer that only slaughters one cow a month, that’s only 12 cows a year compared to the mass meat and dairy industry! So in my mind, that’s still a huge improvement.

I still have a lot to learn and am still growing, but I still feel like i’m making a positive impact and doing the right thing.