Let me tell you about my first conscious decision about health matters. In the late 2007 I discovered Steve Pavlina’s blog “Personal Development for Smart People”. I was fascinated by what he was writing and he opened up the world of personal development for me again.
He also introduced me to the “30 day trial” where you try out a new habit or behavior for 30 days before committing to it long-term.
For me it was clear that I would start 2008 with a 30 day trial. But which one? One of his articles made me aware of the possible benefits of living a vegetarian lifestyle. Before I had read that article I’d always assumed that vegetarians were just idiots. Now I began to understand why becoming vegetarian might not only benefit the planet but also me. So I decided to become a vegetarian for 30 days.
The first thing I noticed about becoming vegetarian was that it wasn’t so hard. Although meat had been in my diet almost every day, I quickly found vegetarian alternatives. Pasta with pesto was vegetarian. Pasta with tomato sauce was vegetarian. There was vegetarian Chinese food. I could eat vegetarian baguettes. I could eat rice with vegetables. So although I didn’t have an oven, my fridge didn’t work and I didn’t have any cooking skills at all, there were enough alternatives to keep my happy.
What I also noticed relatively early was that eating vegetarian meals made me feel lighter than eating meals that contained meat. After eating meat I would almost always have to rest for a while before I could be productive again. When I was eating vegetarian meals I didn’t need a break afterwards. Also when I was eating meat my mind often felt clouded afterwards. However, with vegetarian food I got less clouded and more clear in my head.
After the 30 day trial I switched back to eating meat. Then I switched back and forth until I finally stayed vegetarian in the end of 2008. While I was switching back and forth I noticed a few other advantages of living a vegetarian lifestyle:
When I was eating meat sometimes I would feel an ache in my stomach that would last for several hours. This stopped completely when I switched to vegetarian food.
I also started to become more compassionate and let go of a lot of aggressiveness. This also made me a more balanced and happy person. When I made the big transition to becoming a long-term vegetarian this was the biggest motivator for me. Who doesn’t want to be more happy?
I was never really interested in the ethical and moral side of my food choices. First of all, I don’t believe in morals. Morals say “YOU SHOULD” and I’m not interested in that.
However, I’m glad that being vegetarian leads to less animal suffering and less factory farming.
Although I didn’t become vegetarian for ethical reasons, the change made me more compassionate towards animals. One consequence is that I get easily disgusted by seeing dead animal flesh now. It’s like seeing dead human flesh. Understand why I don’t want to eat that?
Living in a conservative Bavarian town, becoming vegetarian wasn’t exactly an every day decision. Often I found myself in restaurants where the only vegetarian option was a side salad or fries (no Bratwurst for me!).
I met many people who couldn’t understand my decision and had to listen to countless discussions about eating or not eating meat, which simply bored me after a while. I didn’t really care about what other people were or weren’t eating.
Although being a vegetarian wasn’t always comfortable, it wasn’t a big deal either most of the time. After all it had become a habit and I didn’t think about it a lot anymore.
So if you think about becoming vegetarian but you’re scared of the social consequences, it’s probably not as bad as you think it is. Why not try it out for 30 days and see for yourself?
In 2010 I did a 30 day trial of eating a vegan diet (vegan = no animal products involved). Because I liked it, I decided that I would eat mostly vegan food at home but be more liberal when it comes to eating out. However, the year after that I started working at a restaurant where I could eat a lot of non-vegan food for free, which stopped my vegan habits completely.
Now that I stopped working there I’m interested in veganism again. I also plan to write an article about it. So stay tuned if you’re interested in vegetarism, veganism or other conscious health topics.