So You Think You Want to Be a Vegetarian … Maybe?

Photo by Tony Frantz

Photo by Tony Frantz

For many meat-eaters, the idea of becoming vegetarian or even a vegan, sounds challenging. Maybe it even feels impossible. There can be benefits to going cold turkey on meat, but there are a lot of factors to consider.

Becoming a vegetarian or vegan is an entire lifestyle change. How do you simply stop eating something you’ve eaten since you were a toddler? For some, consideration of this decision may have been prompted by accusations of animal cruelty; for others, it could be an attempt to conserve water the environment. The good news is that along the previous two benefits, it is a healthier lifestyle for your body.

According to National Geographic, a vegan consumes less water in a day than someone on a regular diet with consumption of meat. One serving of poultry can cost about 90 gallons of water to produce. This is because it takes a lot of water to produce corn for animal feed. Grain feeding animals uses more water than grass feeding, and it also costs to transport this food because water is used to produce gasoline.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has found that vegetarianism lowers the risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and cancers including breast, ovarian and colorectal. If done right, their diets are low in fat and high in fiber. Vegetarians and vegans do need to watch what they eat and keep their diets balanced, just like those who eat meat, making sure they get the correct amounts of vitamins.

Before immediately pitching all the meat in the freezer, take a moment and think about what you really want to accomplish by going vegetarian or vegan. This decision should be yours alone.

No one has to give up eating meat. There are two sides to every story. Some people might not have the time to make such a huge change in their diet, such as students or people with constantly changing schedules. Those frozen meals are just too easy to grab when you’re late for work. There are also plenty of people that just like meat. Often, people don't consider giving up meat because it’s something they’ve always eaten.

The good news for you carnivores out there? You can easily make a difference just by reducing your meat consumption and paying attention to where the meat is coming from. Questions like: "Are they grass fed?" and "Is the farm near where you live?" can help.

Outside of your dinner plate, there are other things you can do to help the planet and help your fellow furry, earth-sharing friends. The first step is thinking about what you use on a daily basis. Ask questions: What’s in it? Where does it come from? How do you know it’s safe?

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Toothpaste, shampoo, hair conditioner, cosmetics, lotion, household cleaning products and many more. These common household items can contain ingredients from animals and may have been tested on animals. It can be overwhelming and heart breaking to find out your favorite hair conditioner or toothpaste may be the source of an animal’s pain and suffering.

If you are now suddenly an avid animal activist bent on saving every single animal on the planet by throwing away all your pricey meat and beauty products, then more power to you.

Throwing these products away immediately isn’t going to help them any, but you can finish them off and replace them with new, more animal-friendly products.

There are also health benefits to using animal-friendly products. There are many companies that are cruelty free and make beauty products with natural ingredients like Yes To, sometimes known as Yes To Carrots, Yes To Blueberries, or Yes to Grapefruit. These products are especially helpful to people with sensitive skin and sensitive noses.  The products are gentler on the body and give off natural scents. They also contain vitamins that are good for the body, like vitamin E.

Make sure to research the products you already own. You may already be using some animal free products and not even know it. The PETA website is a great place to investigate your favorite beauty, cleaning, baby, dental, laundry products and much more. You can search their database by product type or brand. The search will tell you whether a product tests on animals, vegan or both. If you still can’t find whether or not a company tests on animals, simply contact the company and ask. If you don’t get a definite yes or no from the company I would suggest avoiding that product.

For future purchases, you can easily buy from companies that are dedicated to the vegan lifestyle, or animal free products like Lush Cosmetics. There may also be some more purse-friendly beauty and cleaning products in your local grocery or drug stores that are cruelty free. One brand that is animal cruelty free, affordable, and found at your local drug store is e.l.f. Cosmetics. Some haircare brands include Paul Mitchell and L’Oreal’s PurOlogy.

If you find yourself at the store buying laundry soap and haven’t done your research, look for the PETA rabbit symbol on the label. This indicates that it is cruelty free and recognized by PETA.

Deciding whether or not humans should eat meat can be a very heated argument. It can be easy for some and harder for others to give up. Doing your part to help the animals and the planet doesn’t have to be so drastic though. Simply passing up your favorite toothpaste in the drug store and grabbing the animal cruelty-free one (like Tom’s of Maine), makes a difference.

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