I spent 6 months recently backpacking South America, as I mentioned starting in Uruguay and ending in Colombia. It has been my favorite trip to date and it was where I became inspired to become a vegetarian.
It wasn’t until halfway through my trip that I completely gave up meat and came over to the green side. I was in Ecuador at this point in my travels, volunteering on an organic farm. This is a popular thing and a very cheap way for travelers to save money and have some fun working with other backpackers and travelers like themselves. On this farm in particular we had an awesome garden that produced most of the veggies and herbs for each meals, feeding anywhere from 7-14 people at a time. *And let me note that most of these farms eat vegetarian diets because to kill an animal on the farm is costly and it is not sustainable to constantly be eating the animals.
So on this farm the lady running it, though slightly crazy was an amazing cook and could cook anything from the few ingredients supplied and turn it into an amazing soup or stir-fry etc. This was exciting to me because I love to cook and I was learning how to use ingredients I never cooked with like beets and Yucca and cabbage. This was my first step into wanting to become a vegetarian. I felt healthy and I didn’t miss the meat at all.
But what really sealed the deal was when I saw a chicken on the farm get killed with a kitchen knife and then plucked and boiled right before my eyes. *If you have seen an animal killed, then you know how devastating/disturbing it can be to watch. But I agree with the people who say if you are going to eat meat than you should not turn a blind eye to the process your meat takes from being a living, breathing animal to becoming a packaged meal on the shelf in your local market.
Well back to the matter at hand. After that little experience I vowed to not eat meat the rest of my trip. But let me tell you, South America is not known for its vegetarian diet, it is almost impossible to be a vegetarian there since they are known for some of the best beef in the world and meat is a large, no I mean huge part of their diet. But for the most part I succeeded and came home with a new found passion; eating and living a vegetarian lifestyle.
I will say that I am 6 months into my dietary change, and I’ll say it again, I don’t miss meat. A few years ago during my environmental ethics class, (oh by the way my major is environmental studies) I chose to become a vegetarian for a month. And boy did that seem like torture. I hardly ate vegetables then and I thought everything was weird. And I mean everything. I did not eat peppers, or cauliflower or squash. And anything in the legume family..forget it. I would send my food back if a bean was touching my food (No joke). I just did not eat a lot of variety. So my life then consisted of eggs, bread and burgers, oh and the occasional chicken burrito from Chipotle. So with this personal challenge (and homework assignment) I was to go vegetarian for 4 weeks. Lets just say I didn’t complete my assignment truthfully and gave up about a week in. Now it is 3-4 years later and I have made this conscious, mindful and healthful choice that is not a phase or a homework assignment it is a lifestyle. And that is the path I have taken to become a lover of foods and the creator of the mindful vegetarian.