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Go Veggie With Style This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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I am a vegetarian. Many people are quick to stereotype vegetarianism as bizarre behavior, appropriate for those on another planet. I treasure our Earth, and since we only have one, we should protect it and the wildlife that populates it. But that’s only one reason to be a vegetarian.

Vegetarians may live longer, healthier lives. There is a ­correlation between red meat consumption and diseases ­including osteoporosis, kidney stones, gall stones, ­diabetes, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, gum disease, and even acne. From an economic standpoint, it requires less land, money, and energy to produce foods for a vegetarian diet. While there are many benefits to being a vegetarian, only a handful of those who attempt to adopt this lifestyle succeed.

The most important quality is dedication. We are surrounded by meat. It would be easy to forgo vegetarianism at any moment and devour a steak. This is why vegetarians must be staunch and zealous.

Creativity is almost as important as commitment. It’s easy to tire of eating nothing but ­salad. But with a little creativity and some soy products, almost any meal can become vege­tarian-friendly. Many ethnic cuisines also offer abundant flavorful options. Studying these cultures is an excellent way to generate new ideas. Another is to go to a restaurant that specializes in vegetarian food. This can spark a plethora of creative ideas.

Since creativity is a necessary attribute, it is no coincidence that many vegetarians work in creative fields. Many brilliant individuals were vegetarians, including Socrates, Leonardo da Vinci, and Albert Einstein. Some current famous vegetarians are Madonna, Paul McCartney, ­Natalie Portman, Pink, and Milo Ventimiglia.

Not everyone wants to be a vegetarian. Accepting this is part of being a vegetarian with style. Forcing your beliefs on others, by subjecting them to long lectures on the nutritional benefits of not eating meat or shoving PETA fliers in their faces, is disrespectful. Stylish vegetarians should also be able to gracefully decline a meaty dish without offending their hosts. Another differentiating quality between the stylish and the un-stylish vegetarian is the ability to stick with it. The latter group can typically be overheard saying things like “I’m a vegetarian – I just eat chicken,” or “I haven’t eaten meat in ten days. I’m a vegetarian.”

Being educated is also important. Do your ­research about different types of vegetarians, and learn as much nutritional information as possible. Your goal as a stylish vegetarian is to be healthy, not trendy. Don’t become a vegetarian solely ­because a celebrity says it’s cool. People who do rarely stick with it for long.

Being a successful vegetarian has been easy for me – I’ve been one since I was born. My family is vegetarian, so no meat is available in my house. However, constantly being surrounded by others who eat meat, and sometimes those who are not accepting of vegetarianism, can be a challenge. To be successful, I’ve relied on personal traits like flexibility, since I’m often in situations where the food choices aren’t ideal.

A common mistake is quitting before your body has adjusted to the transition. It can be difficult to stay committed in the beginning because of temptation. How­ever, this fades over time.

Another common mistake is quitting because you’ve been misinformed about the ­nutritional wisdom of being a vegetarian. That’s why it is vital to be educated. Countless people will tell you that it’s impossible to obtain the nutrients and protein your body requires without meat, but they are incorrect. People actually need only 44 to 55 grams of protein a day, and that is easily found in a vegetarian diet. Many meat eaters are consuming triple that amount, which is not beneficial; on the contrary, it has been linked with Alz­heimer’s disease. Vegetables can also supply all the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients your body needs. However, if you’re still not convinced, you can take a multivitamin.

A society in which people have the constitutional right to live freely is well suited for vegetarians. If you need further convincing, read Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser. In a style comparable to Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, Schlosser passionately exposes the dangers of eating meat. For great recipes, How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman has got you covered.

Vegetarianism is an important cause that more people should support. PETA estimates that every vegetarian saves over a hundred animals a year. Not only is being a vegetarian healthy, but it also has a positive impact on the world.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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This article has 144 comments. Post your own now!

veggiepizza said...
Jan. 25, 2009 at 7:41 pm
im vegetarian and i think this article is great! thumbs up for all vegetarians.
eating meat is cruel and doesnt put ourselves above cannibalism. we are all equal on this planet. god didnt put animals on earth for our food
Keepusfree13 replied...
Jan. 25, 2010 at 8:15 pm
or a big, delicious bacon burger?
BlueRain replied...
Jun. 22, 2010 at 1:12 pm

veggiepizza, I dont' see how eating meat is cruel. I won't say that I love eating meat, because truthfully I dont, as i believe eating is for survival and not because it "tastes good".

Animals were not put on Earth to be our food. Of course not. Nothing was made for us, we are not high beings. But humans themselves were put on this Earth to follow the food chain that every other animal on the planet lives by. For this world to stay in balance, animals must be eaten by other animals. Or... (more »)

TxDragon replied...
Jun. 22, 2010 at 1:23 pm
while I agree with your statement that you shouldn't be a vegetarian because you think it's cruel, I have to disagree with what you said about humans not being put on the planet as high beings.  I believe that God put us here and put animals here for us to nourish ourselves with.  It is obvious that nowadays we are top of the food chain.  We are not animals, we are humans, and while we have a responsibilty to protect our earth, we don't have a responsibilty to become vegetarians.
Rosa223 replied...
Jun. 25, 2010 at 4:59 pm
it's actually good some people are and aren't vegetarians, so that the animal populations won't over-populate. If they over-populate, the food for the animals will leave and they'd die either way.
zuriyeahh said...
Jan. 21, 2009 at 9:15 pm
i was a vegitarian for two years.
i also treasure the earth, and being a veg has many benifits.
but meat and other animal products have lots of protien, wich is a key source to your body's survival. the reason i had to stop being a vegitarian was because my body was not getting the protien it needed. i only eat organic meat, wich is much healthier and friendlier on the animals. i try to be as eco-friendly as possible, as long as i am getting the things my body needs.
great ... (more »)
Mr.Brightside said...
Jan. 21, 2009 at 6:23 pm
I totally agree that being a vegitarien is beneficial to your life and lifestyle. However, I am only a vegetarian because I believe in animal rights, and think eating meat is cruel and not above cannibalism. People will say that god gave us animals to eat, but that's not true. Animals are here just for the same reason people are- just to live our lives.
Alyssa said...
Jan. 21, 2009 at 5:40 pm
I am fully motivated by this informational article! I tried to be a vegan once, but my dad was born and raised in the heart of Texas and LOVES meat. So ever since I came to live with my parents we have eaten meat like no one has ever seen before. I was tired of the meat eating because I heard of all the health problems I could get. I broke the news to my parents and got made fun of. So after 2 or 3 weeks i was tempted, and stopped the whole vegan thing. My body must have not ajusted to the meat,... (more »)
Keepusfree13 replied...
Jan. 25, 2010 at 8:16 pm
I was raised in the heart of Texas. I LOVE meat. I see no redeeming value in becoming a vegetarian.
Coral said...
Jan. 8, 2009 at 3:16 pm
I've gone the vegetarian route before, and I found it to be very beneficial, but it's hard to follow. Maybe I lack your dedication, but at any rate I couldn't do it. This article gave me a reason to go back to it and try to actually manage to stick it out.
There are lots of options, thanks for writing this article. It was very well written and informative.
olii said...
Dec. 4, 2008 at 6:27 am
Where to start? First of all, I love that you completely contradicted the previous article. Now I'm not sure what to be anymore (haha)! SO WELL WRITTEN- in every aspect. I think one of the things I loved most was the "plethora" of colorful vocabulary that you used to help cushion your ideas. I also admired how you knew a lot about your topic, just as the previous person did, and it all played together very well and very convincingly. Although I am a meat-eater myself (the ribs get me e... (more »)
SarahSunshine said...
Nov. 25, 2008 at 1:15 am
Animals were put on this Earth for us to enjoy, and that includes eating some of them. And anyways, its way more healthy to have a well rounded diet, with all the food groups, cause our bodies need nutrition.
dancingmaniac said...
Nov. 20, 2008 at 4:48 pm
nice article, me likey.
my sister is a vegetarian but i'm not. haha.i tried to but i have to at least eat seafood. currently doing a presentation based on this article. (: i agree that not all can take not eating meat. some meat can be substitute by veges such as tofu but it doesn't mean that it really can cover the amount of nutrients one should take everyday.
Vegan said...
Nov. 10, 2008 at 7:18 pm
Thanks, great article. I am actually allergic to all animal products. Since going vegan my health has never been better. Meat tastes great, but some body types can't handle it.
veggietalez1 said...
Nov. 8, 2008 at 10:59 pm
thank you! im vegetarian and people always say i try to be vegetarian but i cant stay away form meat. i think that they are not ready to be vegetarians. before i became vegetarian i would cry and get upset whenever i ate meat. the last time i ate meat (over a year ago) i got extremely angry with myself. i truly cannot eat meat anymore
kk21794 said...
Nov. 7, 2008 at 11:37 pm
good points but i LIKE MY MEAT!!! god gave these animals on earth, one reason is to eat.
Nuu~Nuu replied...
Dec. 11, 2009 at 4:06 pm
Hi i am Nuu~Nuu and i LOVE your story
DayofRain50 replied...
Apr. 1, 2010 at 6:11 pm
animals came long before humans. And why are certain animals like certain types of birds or fish or other animals that no culture eats on earth if created for human consumption. 
dallas14! said...
Nov. 6, 2008 at 1:34 pm
omg! i love this story! i know people that are vegetarian and i tried to be but got it didnt work out.
Nuu~Nuu replied...
Dec. 11, 2009 at 4:07 pm
OMG,me to?
Shane_Zeh_Banderbear said...
Oct. 26, 2008 at 11:59 pm
Good article. ^_^ I'm NOT a vegetarian, nor do I plan to be, but I respect vegetarians. There are drawbacks to vegetarianism, such as the ones Vikreddy mentioned. Still, I agree that there are benefits to it, such as the reduction of risk for many diseases. again, good article. ^_^
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