Well, this has been staying in the draft folder for a while… Never really got time to finish it. But better late than never.
In short, I was challenged to be a vegetarian for two weeks, from April 1st to April 14th. I completed it; and surprisingly, it is not as difficult as I had imagined. I would say that it was an interesting, even enriching experience. Here are some short thoughts I had during the duration of this challenge.
(Written on April 6th)
Was challenged to be vegetarian for two weeks. Gladly accepted that challenge. I like challenges. For one, it is a test to my ability and determination. Also, I think being forced to get out of my comfort zone and my usual routine can offer me some insights. As someone who extremely dislikes changes in any aspect of my life, this is a rare opportunity.
Originally, I thought it will be a challenge to my determination. I did not think I will suffer too much from it as I do not rely on meat that much, but I would certainly have to impose myself to go through this challenge. However, I realize that I have been rather enjoying this challenge.
I feel much healthier. I eat much healthier. I eat much more veggies than before. I start paying attention to what nutrition I am getting from each kind of food. I start choosing more carefully what food I should consume to sustain a healthy diet. I can make my decisions in ordering food much quicker due to the fewer available items to choose from. Most vegan food is cheaper than its meat counterpart. I find a lot of new food that I enjoy eating which I have been ignoring them until now.
In general, I just feel much better about myself.
Honestly, I don’t really miss eating meat. I have not even planned out the things I am going to eat after completing the challenge. Many times I look at them, I feel nothing. Sure that chicken nugget or that meatball looks delicious, but I do not need to eat them. I do not need to eat everything that looks good. My body does not really need them.
I thought I would be heavily relying on eggs and other food in the grey area between vegetarian and vegan. This is also the reason why I chose to accept the challenge to be vegetarian rather than vegan. However, I didn’t. The only time I had eggs was on the 4th day, and it didn’t even taste that good. I did not consume any milk. Soy milk just tastes better.
Meat is like… a distraction.
In what way? Well, We do not necessarily need to eat meat to survive; we do not need to eat meat to be healthy. Meat is not essential, nor necessary to our diet. We do not need it, but we want it. It is like an addition, but it may not be a nice one.
It is like adding sugar to coffee. Does it taste good? Sure. Does it taste better? Maybe. Is it necessary? No. We like sugar, but sugar is an unnecessary addition, some may even say an unhealthy addition. It distracts us from enjoying the purest form of coffee. Similarly, meat distracts us from eating the essential part of our diet.
Vegetarianism, in some way, is related to minimalism. Both aim to eliminate these distractions, things that are not essential to our lives. It is, counterintuitively, releasing.
I mentioned how I can make decisions about ordering food much quicker by having fewer choices to choose from. Do more choices mean greater freedom? Not necessarily. Sometimes I feel suffocated from having too many options to choose from. However, the restrains of being vegetarian freed me from being overwhelmed by these distractions.
So, would I continue to be vegetarian after the two weeks?
I don’t know. Maybe.
I will certainly not force myself to stay away from meat. But I will also no longer force myself to eat meat every day either. I realize that not eating meat is a viable alternative. And it may be a better one.
Editing the previous part is painful. Feel like I sounded super pretentious when writing that… I guess since it was my honest thoughts I have to keep it.
Looking back, I really had a lot of fun with this challenge. As I said, I enjoyed my time being a vegetarian, trying out new food and restaurants were exciting. Thai food became my favorite vegan-friendly cuisine. Tofu as the protein-substitute for meat was my best friend. Even some of the “fake” or imitation meat products are not bad; I like the vegan burger, and the “chickenless” chicken tenders were fun.
Overall, I feel like the challenging part is not rejecting the temptation of meat, but rather, finding appetizing vegetarian food. Berkeley is probably one of the most vegetarian-friendly cities in the United States. There are usually vegetarian and vegan labels on the menus, with multiple options available. But sometimes, I still encountered difficulties trying to find vegetarian alternatives. It may sound ungrateful, but I think the situation can be further improved.
Oh. Am I still a vegetarian?
But maybe I will be… Just not now.
2 thoughts on “Reflection on Vegetarianism”
Think everyone should try this. I’m not vegetarian either but I don’t eat red meat. As a culture we need to rethink our relationship to food as recommended here: https://eatforum.org/eat-lancet-commission/eat-lancet-commission-summary-report/
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