There hasn’t been said much about my diet, yet it includes one of the most frequent questions in my life – why did you become a vegetarian? The answer for this question isn’t as simple as it may seem.
I’ve known for quite a while that there are people, who don’t eat meat or eventually no animal products, but living in a small village, where lots of people have their own chicken, rabbits and pigs, which they kill later on to get meat, the idea of being a vegetarian seemed to me like the kind of thing people do to be more cool than others. Especially when I was young, it was totally natural for me to help my granddad kill the chicken. I was kneeling on it while my granddad was cutting its neck. I know, disgusting, but that was life in a village and the cheapest and most healthy way to get meat.
About 2 years ago, my not-so-best-friend-at-that-point-of-time Jane (which now – as you know – radically changed), became a vegetarian. I was just like everyone else – I was constantly saying that she doesn’t get enough protein, that she won’t help, because she’s only one person in 7 billions and that I don’t understand how can anyone be so naive. However, time was passing by and as I was growing up into a young adult, I started to look around me and care about others as well as care about the world we live in. I started to be into ecology, Greenpeace, the global issues with water, meat, greenhouse effect, global warming, drilling oil and so on. Somewhere in the deepest corner of my brain, I slowly started to understand Jane and her lifestyle and started to think that maybe, I kinda fancy what she does.
More than a year ago – in March 2015 – I was doing my daily routine of scrolling through social media and I found out about an event in Brno. There was a place, where people could sign a petition against drilling in Arctic, take a photo with fake, but real sized polar bear, chat with the volunteers and with people of the same eco-orientation. I texted Jane and I asked, if she would like to go. Of course, she loved the idea. We went there, had a great time, took a photo with the bear, chatted a lot with one Greenpeace volunteer (who was very lovely and also quite impressed by our age, when we told him we want to sign the petition). The same day in the evening, I was surfing on the Greenpeace website and I saw a very interesting project happening in a few days. It’s called Ecochallange. You choose one challenge, which is somehow related to ecology, and you have a month, when you have to accomplish the challenge – or at least try to. As you may have already guessed, I chose to be a vegetarian for a month.
What I won’t forget for the rest of my life, is the facial expression of my parents when I told them. Firstly, dad was joking around – he thought I was fooling them. Then mom started to look a bit worried, but she was acting like “that’s just some random thought of her, let’s hope she will forget about it soon.” When I woke up the day the ecochallenge was about to start, I opened the fridge and took some ham. I froze. Oh. I’m a vegetarian now. I can’t eat this. I changed ham for cheese. Cheese became the main part of my meals for at least two or three weeks, because I obviously had no idea what should I eat and I definitely didn’t know how to cook. I didn’t even know about half of the ingredients I use nowadays – broccoli was my nightmare and millet seemed like an insult.
After those two or three weeks, when I basically only ate cheese on 150 ways and felt terribly tired and sick, I said to myself: STOP. I sat down and grabbed a piece of paper. I turned on my laptop and started a research. I spent almost a whole day learning about vegetarian diet, healthy ingredients, cooking, searching for recipes and advice. That was also the time I found out about the palm oil issue, so by the way, I also started to avoid eating palm oil (another nightmare for my parents). In two days, I became a diametrically different vegetarian and much more educated person.
It’s been a year and three months now, since I started this little crazy challenge and a year and two months since I sat down with my parents and with shock in their eyes, I told them I don’t see any reason to stop being a vegetarian, so I’m probably just going to continue.
“But when are you going to stop being a vegetarian?”
“Well, I don’t know. Maybe in a week, maybe in a month, a year, ten years… maybe I won’t stop until I’m dead. It will just sort of happen, when I will feel like it should.”
Through that year and a few months, I – again – changed a lot. Not only that I’m now a much better cook and a much more educated person in terms of vegetarian diet, but personally, I think I’m also a better person. Being a vegetarian is not only about food. It changes you the way you wouldn’t say it ever could. Being a vegetarian, you learn to respect others, you learn to focus on the global side of your acts instead of focusing on yourself. It teaches you to be humble and it teaches you to be patient (believe me, explaining your decision to a total meat lover and not rolling your eyes or punching him takes a lot of patience). It teaches you to be more tolerant – in every way. It teaches you to be more grateful for what you have and it definitely makes you think a lot – about yourself, your visions, your plans, your behaviour, impact you leave on the world, about society and food industry. So, at the end, you may start being a vegetarian just because it is a crazy challenge for you, but you may end up being a vegetarian because of thousands of reasons – from killing animals, through health issues caused by meat, to the world hunger caused by food industry – just like me.
If you have any relatable question, feel free to ask me in the comments, I’m one of those peaceful vegetarians, who will not tear your head off to fertilize my garden. 😀