They say you never know when or where a great idea will hit you. When I was 19, the inspiration to become a vegetarian came in a ten-pound box of lobsters that I was stuffing into a UPS truck destined for North Vernon, Indiana. As luck would have it, this box of innocent lobsters had only one thing different about it from the hundreds of others just like it that I had loaded in my tenure with Big Brown: it was open.
When I peeked inside I saw a pile of crustaceans staring deeply into my soul, crying out, trying desperately to break the surly bonds of fate that had left them trapped in this drab white box. It sounds silly, but this was a life-altering moment for an undeclared college student looking for a direction in life. These lobsters and all the others I had loaded were shipped to a restaurant and presumably boiled alive before being eaten, and thinking about that miserable end they shared with so many others moved me toward a more vegetarian lifestyle.
Being guilt-tripped by lobsters wasn’t the only thing that convinced me that a vegetarian lifestyle was a good idea. I’ve long been a health-conscious person, and the benefits of going “green”, so to speak, really struck a chord with me. Moving away from eating meat was not terribly difficult for me because I didn’t really eat much meat in the first place; I’ve always been more of a pasta and salad guy. It also gave me an excuse to do more of something else I enjoy: trying new foods. Truth be told, once you get used to the idea of not having meat, you tend to forget about it. Like everything else in life, it becomes easier as you continue to work at it.
Here are a few tips I can offer from my experience that might help you if you’re interested in making a similar change:
- – Give it time. I would never advise someone to quit something cold turkey; it’s too easy to get frustrated the first few times you have a craving for whatever it is you give up. Try to wean yourself from meat and you’ll find yourself having an easier time living without it.
- – While you’re weaning yourself off meat, try new foods and recipes to substitute in its place. I would never have guessed I would like veggie burgers or veggie hot dogs, but they really aren’t bad. In fact, you can hardly tell a difference in the taste if you have them dressed.
- – Don’t beat yourself up if you fall off the wagon or can’t 100% commit to being vegetarian. I’d be lying if I said I never, ever eat meat anymore. I come from a family that loves to eat meat. It’s what we do. I don’t rock the boat and ask for separate dishes when I go to family functions, and I don’t go into snob mode when I’m around others who eat meat. I can still eat the occasional chicken sandwich guilt-free. It’s no big deal, and don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.
What vegetarianism represents and what it means can be a little different for everyone. I’ve made changes to my lifestyle and attitude thanks to those sage lobsters. Here’s hoping others can do the same.
Full disclosure: Darren McWaters has dabbled in vegetarianism for the last eight years. I do still eat meat from time to time, but the bulk of my diet is meat-free. I’m forever indebted to those lobsters.