A ‘fresh’ take on healthy, vegetarian living

Shae Slaughter

In the U.S., we are overwhelmed with the idea of choice. We have so many options in front of us all of the time that it is hard to say no. This holds true for the food available to us, too. We have Chinese food, Italian food, Polish food and so much more. We have extra-large fries and half-pound burgers around every corner. While at face value these choices seem to be beneficial, I think the stereotypical American diet does more harm than good. 

As Americans, we are raised to finish all of the food on our plates, eat hearty steaks and grab some fast food if we need a quick meal. It’s hard to know any different because it is simply a societal norm. I worked at a steakhouse for two years, so I knew this mindset firsthand. Our food was made from scratch and filled with unhealthy ingredients. People loved it. I did, too.

However, over the last few months, I have noticed that my stomach had started bugging me regularly. If I wasn’t feeling stomach pains, I still felt uncomfortable and puffy. My boyfriend felt similar symptoms. We never ate that poorly, but we knew we could do better. My boyfriend suggested trying to go vegetarian, and I was excited by the idea. 

So that’s what we did. The two of us have been vegetarian for about three-and-a-half weeks. Of course, this is just a drop in the bucket, but we both feel worlds better. Our new diet is simply easier to digest. After all, meat takes about two days to digest, while vegetables can take less than a day, according to Healthline. 

We went shopping and removed all of the meat and unhealthy items from my fridge. We picked veggies and quinoa over steak and mashed potatoes. We made vegetarian burrito bowls instead of chicken fajitas. Despite popular belief, it wasn’t hard and it wasn’t expensive. In fact, I spent less money at the store. I felt the change within a few days. 

It’s amazing to think that such a simple fix could make such a big difference. I don’t think that removing meat from our diet was the only cause of this change; I think that it was a general consensus to be more conscious of what we are consuming. Instead of just grabbing a burger, we have to consider what meals we can concoct that contain all of the necessary nutrients. 

When I mention these dietary choices to people, they seem to be shocked that I would choose to give up meat. I’ve been asked more than once if I’m still keeping up with that “vegetarian thing.” To me, it’s not just a choice: It’s a decision to change the way I live. 

“Countless studies have shown that a well-planned, nutritious, plant-based diet is associated with a lower risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes and stroke, as well as with longer life expectancy,” according to The Huffington Post. I would encourage any and everyone to experiment with their diet because I don’t think that eating is “one size fits all.” 

Maybe being a vegetarian won’t last forever. My boyfriend and I are both open to dietary changes, after all.  Maybe I’ll sneak some turkey on Thanksgiving; maybe I won’t. I just know that I have found a different way of living that suits me and my stomach perfectly.