I used to think I could never pass up chicken wings or a good cheeseburger, but Sunday marked five years without eating meat.
It’s not something I talk about much, though, mostly because I know there’s a stigma of annoying vegan people trying to persuade others that eating animals is murder. So, to avoid being seen as pushy or aggressive in my beliefs, I usually never speak about why I first became a vegetarian or why I don’t think I’ll ever eat meat again.
More than five years ago, I was scouring the internet as usual, and I found a random YouTuber who also happened to be vegan. I watched a lot of her videos about how to kick the habit of eating meat, and then I watched a few documentaries she recommended which discuss the meat, dairy and egg industries and their far-reaching effects on individual beings, the planet and humanity.
After researching the internet and reading every article I could find on vegetarianism, I decided I wanted to commit. By not eating meat, I reasoned with myself, I would benefit animals, my personal health and the environment, and in a less obvious sense, the world.
So, yeah, I still loved chicken wings, but I no longer saw them as a necessity in my life. For me, because I felt so strongly about the issue, removing chicken wings from my diet was simple, but it’s probably not something to decide on a whim, on a dare or just as a bored New Year’s Resolution.
It seems changing the way you eat — a habit that’s engraved in you since birth — requires some serious reshaping of the way you think and what you prioritize.
Prior to watching those documentaries, I never made the conscious decision to connect the animals I pet with the food I ate. Now when I walk into a grocery store and see chicken wings packaged into a plastic container, I don’t think about how good they would taste slathered in barbecue sauce.
If you’d like to get a glimpse into what I think about instead, feel free to research those documentaries yourself — but I’m not here to try and convert people. Like I said, I don’t want to seem pushy.
Then again … isn’t that how change happens?
If I never found videos of YouTubers voicing their opinions regarding the meat industry, I would’ve never been prompted to research it further. I probably would’ve never watched those documentaries, and I probably wouldn’t have made the decision to stop eating meat.
See, there’s the dilemma — I avoid talking about my beliefs because I don’t want others to think I’m acting aggressive or arrogant, but if no one talked about the things they believe in, change would never happen.
In the past, I’ve found it hard to voice my disagreements or doubts, especially if there are people around me who are literally and figuratively louder than myself. But maybe that needs to change.
The loudest voices aren’t always right, and it’s important to not sit back and be quiet.
If I disagree with a belief but never state my opinion, I am giving my voice away. So going forward, for these next five years and every year after that, I believe I need to speak about vegetarianism and my other opinions, both popular and alternative, both trivial and important.
My silence does not speak for me, and at this point in my life, I’d rather be defiantly brash than ignorantly compliant.