My name is Jess Downey and I'm a vegetarian.
I guess technically I might still be a budding vegetarian (the phrase used when someone is transitioning. It's totally real. Trust me. I looked it up), but I'm not exactly sure when you cross over.
So for this blog let's just use vegetarian because that's what I consider myself. I'm a vegetarian.
For me, that means I don't eat meat or meat products. I will eat fish, but I don't really love it so I don't eat it that often. I still eat eggs and dairy.
At first, I wasn't planning on being a vegetarian. My plan was to reduce the amount of meat I was eating as a part of my new, healthier lifestyle. Mr. T was a vegetarian years ago and he always mentioned how much healthier he felt. Plus, heart disease, high cholesterol and blood pressure, and so many other really bad things run in both my family and Mr. T's family. So we decided to limit meat to a couple of meals a week.
I was trying out new recipes and things and relearning how to cook without all of the cream and butter and fat so we didn't really eat any meat the first week of our diet. And we didn't eat meat the second week either. Before I knew it, I hadn't had any meat in like a month and, honestly, I didn't miss it at all.
I also found that I legitimately felt better. I know part of it was because I was eating healthier in general, but I felt so much better and my skin looked amazing. I also found that by not eating meat, it was so much easier to incorporate fruits and veggies into our diet. And that I was being more adventurous in my cooking. I was trying new recipes and new things and it was kind of awesome.
I'm not sure exactly when it was, but somewhere in there, I decided to just go full on vegetarian. And so now, here I am, a vegetarian.
If you had told me years ago I would stop eating meat, I would have laughed in your face. But, honestly, I can tell you that I've never felt better in my life. And, honestly (again), I think going veg has made this whole healthy living thing so much easier. It makes so many things just off limits so I don't even need to think about it.
And I do legitimately believe that I am doing something better for the environment and treatment of animals.
Becoming a vegetarian is a personal decision to me. It's not something that is for everyone or something I think everyone should do. In fact, Mr. T isn't a full vegetarian though we don't eat meat at home and he rarely eats meat around me other than fish. But it's truly just something I chose for myself, personally.
I can't say that I've never craved meat. I mean, I was a meat eater for almost 36 years before I became veg. But honestly, I don't really miss it at all.
And I can't say that it's always easy. We live in rural Indiana. There aren’t a ton of restaurants where we live and almost none of them have any vegetarian options. I usually resort to sides and grilled cheese. I often get weird stares when I ask for things without meat. I once found a piece of bacon on my grilled cheese, so, yeah, that was fun. And there are meat products in weird things, like gummies. But technically I shouldn't be eating candy anyway so that totally helps (yay!).
But like I said, I've never felt this good. And I've found that I don't miss meat at all. We've found so many really tasty recipes and lots of things are great replacements for meat.
My advice to anyone who's thinking of going veg:
First, try it. No, seriously, just try it for a few weeks or a month and see how you feel. You don't have to commit to anything.
Second, going veg is about you, not anyone else. A lot of people are going to get weird about it. Some might even take your vegetarian lifestyle as a personal attack against theirs. They're going to give you all kinds of stats about how it's OK to eat meat and how you can't get the proper nutrients from an all veg diet and blah, blah, blah. I still haven't really figured out why that is. But if you want to go vegetarian, you should and it's just as simple as that.
Third, vegetarianism means a lot of different things to different people and there are all different kinds of vegetarians. Figure out what it means for you.
And to anyone who knows anyone who wants to go or is a vegetarian:
It’s cool. Really it is. I openly admit that some vegetarians are vocal about it and want to get all lecturey about it, but not all of us do. Some of us just don't want to eat meat, but we don't care if you eat meat. And if we say we can't eat something because there's meat in it, just be cool with that. You can totally eat your big meat burger and I'll eat my black bean burger. Don't encourage us to "cheat" on our vegetarian "diet" because we don't want to.