What did I learn from spending over half a week as a vegetarian?
For starters, being a vegetarian, especially a new one, is hard. I didn’t have the experience or refined taste to tap into the full resources of vegetarianism. I tried new foods, and while they weren’t all bad, many of them were hard to stomach. Perhaps that’s because my body is so used to a protein-rich meat-based diet. Either way, getting all the essential nutrients I needed was difficult. I know I was on the low end for protein and was all but missing out on several B vitamins, iron, and zinc.
My second major point is that we take food for granted. I’m not referring to just food in general, but the variety of food we have at our fingertips. We live in a country where we can build a salad of arugula, iceberg, or romaine lettuce, or even spinach. (I list those because they are what’s offered in the cafeteria, so I became most familiar with them.) We can choose to be vegetarians and still have ample resources of protein. We have the luxury of pork, chicken, beef, turkey, tofurkey, soy burgers, bean burgers, mushroom burgers, imitation chicken, vegetarian beef-substitute…we have the agricultural industry to support those choices.
If it weren’t for the fact that somewhere in the U.S. someone is growing lettuce right now, I probably would have starved for four days. The same goes for apples, melons, cucumbers, carrots, oranges, and several types of berries. There are wheat farmer all over the country who worked hard year-round to produce the grain that helped stretch out my meals. I support local fare by all means, but being a vegetarian would have been much more difficult without an amazing nationwide agricultural system that provides nutritious and delicious fruits, vegetables, and grain all year round.
So, next time you sit down to a meal, whether it’s entree’ is meat or not, think about how fortunate we are.
Think about the amazing agricultural industry that made that meal, vegetarian, omnivorous, vegan, or even “meatarian,” possible. One, two, three, or several people along the line worked very, very hard to produce that food for you, from the start of production all the way up through your consumption.
Regardless of the food system, ideology, or mentality you claim as your own, we should all be a little more thankful and a lot more conscientious in regards to our food.
I learned that from four-and-a-half days as a vegetarian. I look forward to continuing my omnivorous journey with a brighter, more conscientious outlook and a rejuvenated thankfulness for farmers and ranchers all over. Thank you.