Thanks, Joaquin Phoenix.
So, there are probably a lot of things going on in your head when you read this title. Why are you doing this? What are you going to eat? Or maybe something relating to your own diet and how it’ll be hard/easy. No matter your questions, you clicked on this because you knew I was going to be keeping track of this meatless week.
Here is my explanation for this experience: This semester I’ve been taking a civic engagement course which is considered a community service course my university requires to graduate. I chose Animals and Society thinking hey, maybe I get to volunteer my time at animal shelters and get credit for it. There has been no volunteering at animal shelters. My community service task was to try to experience life as a vegetarian–or a vegan, for students who were already vegetarians– for a week starting 6:10 p.m. last Thursday. This may seem difficult and like a sudden shock to our bodies but throughout the semester we’ve done readings, our own research, and had documentary screenings about animals in our world and our treatment of them. And with each class, I found it a little harder to consume meat products and reduced the amount I’ve eaten.
Now, I present to you a journal of my daily adventures over the course of a week as a college student making a little step towards consciously being vegetarian.
Friday, 21st of April
Breakfast/lunch– strawberry banana smoothie
dinner– plain pizza with garlic knots
snack– cheetos and chocolate bunny ears
Saturday, 22nd of April
breakfast/lunch — frozen yogurt and fruit
snack– chocolate croissant
dinner– mozzarella sticks
Sunday, 23rd of April
dinner–broccoli stir fry
Monday, 24th of April
Breakfast/lunch– green tea mochi ice cream
dinner– veggie burger with cheddar cheese and fries. Lots of Ketchup
Tuesday, 25th of April
Lunch–penne alla vodka and bread
snack–green tea mochi ice cream
other snack– red velvet cupcakes
late late dinner– rice and potatoes
Wednesday, 26th of April
Lunch– Grilled cheese with waffle fries
Thursday, 27th of April
lunch–mac and cheese with vegetable spring rolls
dinner– pizza,pizza, pizza and garlic knots.
*Please don’t be concerned about a lack of breakfast, I typically wake up around noon.
As you can tell I wasn’t living a super healthy lifestyle, but I did feel a little better every time I chose to skip a real burger, chicken, and bacon. The more you learn about the factory farming situation our country has created in order to supply our demands for meat, the more you lose interest in partaking in it. If you need a little kick to start off your own week without meat, I suggest viewing the documentary Earthlings narrated by Joaquin Phoenix.
One thing you definitely won’t worry about while being a vegetarian are lack of options. While my small journal doesn’t suggest I explored much outside of my food comfort zone, I’ll try to venture out a little more now. Also, for chicken nugget lovers, I highly suggest soy nuggets from Whole Foods considering I try to get them whenever I can now.
For those who might think leaving meat behind will be impossible, I really believe you can do it. Even if you don’t want to become vegetarian for the rest of your life, maybe consider cutting meat out of your diet for a few days out of the week. Graham Hill makes a point of this “weekday vegetarian” lifestyle–choosing to be vegetarian Monday through Friday while allowing yourself to have what you want during weekends– in his Ted Talk. You can watch it below.
It’s a small change, but that doesn’t make it any less valuable. It’s hard to expect someone to completely change their diet that they’ve become so used to for so long. Whether you want to start living a vegetarian or even vegan life by slowly easing yourself into it, or simply make a difference in the environment and the number of lives killed a year because of factory farming, this change is welcome. And if a large number of people did it, imagine how many animals could be saved.
As for me, I’ve noticed my body now reacts a little negatively when I consume meat. It sounds crazy considering I’ve only cut it out for a week, but I become a bit nauseous after consuming meat now. I’m currently considering the weekday vegetarian change because of two reasons:
1. I feel better about myself, my diet, and my influence on the environment and animal friends’ lives when I choose to not eat meat and
2. If I still give myself some room to at least have it when I might encounter a craving, I don’t think I’ll have the craving as often.
Maybe I’m playing a mind game with myself, but the idea of being so strict with my diet makes me worry that suddenly my mind will be demanding more meat simply because I know I can’t have it.
Either way, this week really helped me realize that being vegetarian isn’t as far-fetched a possibility as I once thought. It’s even raised my curiosity about living the vegan life so maybe that will be my next week-long challenge.
Here’s to bettering ourselves, our choices, and our world.