By: Audrianna Imka

Near the end of December, 2017, I created the new year’s resolution to become a vegetarian. Long story short, it was one of the best decisions of my life.

Prior to this point, I had attempted to become vegetarian multiple times, but there was one thing that always pulled me back to the carnivorous lifestyle: bacon. Salty, crunchy, flavorful bacon. I had always wished that I had the self control to avoid this delectable dish, and as the time for resolutions rolled around, I decided to give it one more shot.

I made the decision for couple of reasons:

  1. Whenever I ate meat, I found myself becoming weighed down. After just a few bites of it, I would feel full, but I wouldn’t have ingested all of the protein and nutrients that I needed to sustain my energy.
  2. I have always had a love for animals, and once read somewhere that one vegetarian can save 200 animals in a year. I considered my slightly adjusted diet a small sacrifice to save the lives of this many living creatures.

The first month of this journey was rocky. I’d often find myself with a piece of pepperoni in my mouth, or a bite of a ham sandwich sliding down my throat, not realizing that it was meat until it was too late. It took a lot of awareness to remember that I was even a vegetarian. After I got over this hump, which lasted all of January and resulted in my “half vegetarianism” that month, I ventured into the territory I like to call “the deadly cravings.” You know, when you walk into the servery and the smell of crispy chicken tenders wafts into your nose, or when the last slice of pizza left under the heat lamp has pepperoni on it. Sometimes I actually had to tell my friends to physically restrain me so that I wouldn’t get chicken tenders. I would repeatedly ask myself, “Should I eat it? Should I eat it?” And somehow, some way, I managed to avoid meat. Granted, think I accidentally ate some pepperoni on a slice of pizza after a cross country practice, but in my defense, the pepperoni was under the cheese. Like, who does that?! Heathens. Anyways, by the time I saw the pepperoni, I had already eaten my way through a portion of the pizza, and I’m still not quite sure if I ate pepperoni or not. But it was an honest mistake, and I had to let myself be okay with that.

Throughout this process, I’ve learned how much power my brain actually has over my body. I’ve always been a strong-willed person, but this challenge took my self control to new levels, teaching me how to gradually work towards my goals. I had to learn how to be okay with the fact that I wouldn’t be able to abruptly make the change from the start, and that it would take time. At this point, I’ve been vegetarian for a little over a year, and I’ve noticed so many changes, both mentally and physically. My endurance increased immensely as soon as I made the switch, as I was getting more protein and nutrients from nuts and beans than I had ever gotten from meat. My body felt lighter, which overall made me happier. I also became much more confident in myself, and gained so much pride from knowing that I had set my mind to something and followed it all the way through.

If anyone is considering becoming a vegetarian, I highly highly recommend it. It’s important to remember that it’s virtually impossible to make the switch immediately, and turn completely away from meat. At this point, I don’t even see meat as a food anymore, but you have to work towards that point gradually. You always need to have a strong sense for why you want to make the switch, or else you won’t be able to keep yourself on track. I pinkie promise that after a few months, you will be so surprised by how few cravings for meat you have.

At this point, I am amazed to be able to say that a simple diet adjustment has changed my life for the better.