My wife heard it from the mayor.

Two weeks ago, I jumped right into it. I became a vegetarian, but kept it to myself. For breakfast and lunch I didn’t share a meal with anyone and I didn’t tell my wife about it.

In the same day my family and I walked to our town’s fall festival in the nearby park. The mayor was grilling up hotdogs and was offering them out to anyone nearby. My son walked over and got one so I followed after him to make sure he didn’t get ketchup everywhere. The mayor started to hand out another hotdog to me and without thinking I responded, “no thank you, I am a vegetarian.” I could have just said, “no thanks,” I thought, but I didn’t think much more about it. The mayor shrugging my comment off, walked back to the grill and I turned my attention to my son which had ketchup all over his face and hands. Later on, I caught up with my wife. She seemed a bit upset and she pulled me aside. “I just talked to the mayor, you are a vegetarian now?”

Back in college, I was a vegetarian for a bit. I basically became one because I didn’t like cooking meat. I was living on my own and didn’t have a college meal plan so it was my first real experience with grocery shopping and cooking for myself. Cooking meat scared me. I was either afraid I would not cook it enough and get sick or that I would cook it too much, ruin it and possibily set off the building’s fire alarm system. I ate a lot of rice and beans but then got even more lazy and started buying rice and bean burritos from Taco Bell. I knew I was nutriant deficent across the board. Eventually I started to get sick more than my friends and realized my diet probably had something to do with it, so I got a meat thermometer and switched back to meat.

About a year and a half ago, I gave up beef for environmental reasons*. Beef has a huge enviornmental footprint compared to other proteins.1 I was still a firm believer that higher up systematic change was the only way to really have an impact in “saving the environment”, but between riding my bike to work and cutting out beef, I was “doing my part.”

Well, even though I still believe that systematic change will have the greatest impact on saving the environment, the likelyhood of it happening anytime soon in the United States seems farther and farther away. Though I will continue to vote with the environment in mind, voting alone doesn’t satisfy my urge to “do something.” For me, the next logical step it to cut out meat. Combined with the beef I have already given up, I could potentially shrink my food-related footprint by one-third or more.2

The next logical step would be to remove dairy and eggs from my diet. I am very vegan-curious and eat vegan a couple times per week and I constantly look up what is and isn’t considered vegan. Brown Sugar? Bone char? Really? I am just not there yet. For now, I guess I am considered a “lacto-ovo vegetarian.” While in transition, I am doing some rough nutrition tracking to make sure I am still getting the nutrients my body needs.

Ultimately, this is me doing something. I see environmental and personal health benefits and I encourage others to consider taking similar steps.

* I gave up beef for the most part. I told myself and others that I would still eat cooked beef if it would otherwise go to waste, and I didn’t see the huge environmental impact of eating pepperoni pizza, but that I just wouldn’t ever order/buy it myself.