‘I could never give up meat’

Give a second thought to the meat you eat

Do you ever question the meat you eat? Have you ever felt so gross after eating meat that you considered not eating it? If you have, then you are like me. To save you time on Google, here’s the rundown.

Many people don’t know that there are different kinds of vegetarians. Lacto-vegetarian diets exclude meat, fish, poultry and eggs. Ovo-vegetarian diets exclude meat, poultry, seafood and dairy products but allow eggs. Then, most commonly, there are lacto-ovo vegetarian diets that exclude meat, fish and poultry but allow dairy products and eggs.

The vegan diet typically gets thrown in that mix, and most vegetarians are generalized within veganism, which is abstaining from the consumption and use of all animal products. Veganism is more extreme than vegetarianism.

There are many reasons a person could choose one of these diets. I think a huge factor all vegetarians agree on is the impact meat has on the environment. The meat industry contributes to climate change by producing tremendous amounts of methane and carbon dioxide.

People could choose a vegetarian lifestyle for ethical concerns too. Factory farms are not an ideal life for most of the livestock. Animals are often confined in disease-ridden, cramped cages that are stacked on top of each other.

There are many more reasons why a person might choose a vegetarian lifestyle. If you already are or plan to become a vegetarian, prepare to be asked “why” a lot.

I’ve been plant based for four years now. I stopped eating beef and pork first. This was hardest on my dad, who’d rather lose an arm than give up steak. It was easier saying goodbye to chicken than I thought. Although Chick-Fil-A always tempts me, the last meat dinner I can remember eating was beef rib. As I was pulling animal flesh off of a rib bone that was once inside a living creature, I remember thinking, “Wow, this is disgusting and kind of weird.”

In spite of that, even after four years, I still have dreams of salami. Now you’re probably reading this thinking that it’s strange to miss deli meat over bacon or burgers.However, I have a deep rooted love for salami sandwiches, and there’s no good vegetarian alternative.

Although I have gotten skilled at making all my favorite meals vegetarian friendly, there is a downside to this lifestyle: meat substitutes are often more expensive than meat. For me, it is worth it.

There’s no shortage of comments plant based people get about insufficient nutrients. My mom asks me at least once a week about what I ate that had protein and if I’m getting enough iron. I will say, as a college student I’m not the greatest at building a well balanced diet, but I always make sure to eat my veggies, beans and nuts. Obviously taking vitamins should be a huge part of every vegetarian’s life, but it’s important to remember that we can still get the nutrients we need from food. Tofu, chickpeas and quinoa are all good examples of diverse, high protein foods.

Being a vegetarian in Big Rapids has been challenging. All of the “best places to eat in town” have only one option for vegetarians if we’re lucky, which is typically a veggie burger. Some restaurants offer plant based chicken wings or sandwiches.

My guide for the best veggie burgers in Big Rapids in order from best to okay goes The Gypsy Nickel, Schubergs, Culvers and then Crankers. Honorable mentions for The Rock and The Quad, they try. The Gypsy Nickel has a few vegetarian options, so it is my go to. Hands down, Qdoba has the best impossible beef for burritos or nachos. Chains like Subway, Jimmy Johns and, sadly my favorite, Mancinos are lacking in variety for vegetarians. The only obstacle with pizza is talking your group into toppings that aren’t meat, and there are no Hot-N-Ready cheese pizzas. Ultimately, Big Rapids needs more restaurants that cater to people that don’t eat meat.

At the end of the day, don’t let the fact that we’re in a small town deter you from trying something new. If you’ve ever questioned meat, you should oblige your curiosities and do your own research. Possibly try a few popular vegetarian meals and fall in love. You might find that you’ll feel better than you ever have.