Being Cognizant: Vegetarianism

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A series about the ways I work towards being cognizant through decisions that make me more mentally engaged with various facets of my day-to-day life.

Cognizance (noun): Awareness, realization, notice, knowledge, perception.

3 years and 3 months ago, I embarked on a 3-week challenge to stop eating meat. It began because someone told me I “looked like a vegetarian”, which led to a discussion, which led to an agreement to try vegetarianism for a little while, which led to today where I remain a vegetarian.
These past three (and some) years have been a learning experience for me that I have embraced despite personal struggles with the change in lifestyle and diet, as well as the frequent encouragement from friends, family, and near-strangers to return to omnivorous ways. It has not always been easy, but I have certainly become more considerate of my eating and lifestyle as a result of this change I made three years ago.

When I became a vegetarian, I was in the midst of my first year of university and decided to embark on a fitness journey within months of changing my diet – all of these transitions occurring at the same time led to a few setbacks that forced me to think about things I had taken for granted. For example, my energy levels dropped a few months into my new diet, and my exercise continued to increase in vigor and frequency. With these changes in mind, I was faced with figuring out new ways to acquire certain nutrients in my diet to (a) replace the easily-acquired nutrients from meat I had taken for granted and to (b) be sufficient enough for my muscles to recover from intense exercise. I found many new foods (especially in nuts, beans, and many vegetables) that offered me the nutrients I needed that I had never considered necessary, or even delicious, before! It was a great opportunity to try new foods and learn about my body’s needs when it comes to nutrients and exercise.

Beyond these health-related ideas I have come to consider regularly, I have also grown to be more selective with the food I buy, particularly when it comes to eggs, which I still eat. I make an effort to purchase food that is ethically-sourced, and perhaps even locally-sourced, as I know I am supporting people that live in my communities by doing so (see my list of Farmer’s Markets!). Without realizing it, this lifestyle aligned with my feminist ideals in that I was caring about non-human animals’ well-being and fair treatment as well as making efforts to not support unethical business practices that are exploitative and even dangerous.. Building upon that, I now (usually – I’m still growing) resist the urge to buy inexpensive clothing or goods from stores or brands that I know are not sourcing their products ethically. Vegetarianism has cleansed me of more things than I had anticipated when I began my journey!

Through vegetarianism, I have become much more thoughtful when it comes to my diet, exercise, lifestyle in general, and even the products that I buy beyond the grocery store – all because I started out by deciding that eating other animals’ does not currently align with my values because of the way it is produced. Regardless of where my lifestyle journey goes, I am grateful for having become more cognizant of how I approach it.

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