2. Become a Vegetarian.
Where do you start when you begin a bucket list? Completing my childhood dreams seemed like the only logical decision. I didn’t find a desire for all the things that I use to want to possess or achieve. How do I feel about that horse that I spent nearly a decade asking for? No, thank you! To my surprise, being a vegetarian seemed to be the one thing that stuck out the most. All the materialistic things that I could have bought for myself to attain my childhood visions and I pick the one thing that was to require hard work, dedication, self-control, and let’s not forget a whole slew of bad habits and emotional dilemmas that I would be forced to deal with. Clearly, this wasn’t going to be easy.
So, the story begins, when I was just 5 years old I stumbled onto a picture of my father working at a slaughterhouse. Next to my dad hung a cow upside down by a hook, its eyes was still open, though I do believe it was dead. Those eyes still haunt me to this day. It was the moment that I realized that beef comes from cows. It was a traumatizing experience and I began to wonder why we would kill to eat but if my parents, family and friends all did it, then it couldn’t possibly be wrong.
Fast forward a decade and add a significant amount of weight to a child who dared not to question society and you would find a very unhappy teenager. Obviously, the McDonalds, Super Mario, and Simpsons routine of the stereotypical 90’s, middle class child had taken control of my life and my body. How much weight, you ask? In the 5th grade I was already a whopping 180lbs, by the end of middle school the scale pushed 220lbs and as a newly licensed driver I weighed 260lbs. Though, at this point in my life, this detail played no part in my thoughts of vegetarianism. It was freshman year when I took Biology and was required to dissect a fetal pig as part of the curriculum. It was a reminder of my ideals behind the slaughtering of animals for gain only to man. I was disgusted enough to not touch pork for about a month but the truth was I had done been brainwashed into believing the western culture diet was the only option and long been addicted to the greasy, fatty foods that it made readily accessible.
This leads me back to present day and the attempt to assemble my bucket list. The idea of vegetarianism is something I’ve thought about my whole life, a desire that I refused to explore. How can something be so important to someone and yet, they are so quick to believe it impossible? I had somehow managed to lead myself down a path that I wished never to take. I did not like this person who had let themselves down but I had no time to sulk over the past, if I was to make change I would have to figure out why I had not taken the less beaten path and overcome these obstacles.
My starting point wasn’t to change my diet, I would first educate myself. I visited the PETA website to attain more information; it offered me ideas, resources, and support. It also told me that the easiest way to maintain a vegetarian diet and to deal with the back lash of society was to define my reasoning for my choice. I then turned to my local library. Reading gave me the knowledge and confidence in my decision and the ability to defend my ideals. The first month was difficult and I slipped up a lot. Then, I came across a book called Veganist by Kathy Freston, it’s a fantastic read and it gives insight on all the different positive aspects a vegan diet will bring to your life. After getting halfway through chapter 3, which talks about viruses, my choice to be a vegetarian became my choice to become a vegan and I haven’t touched meat, eggs, or dairy since. I feel confident in my decision and believe I have the power to tackle such a lifestyle change. The best part is I have found out that this choice will also help me in my quest to lose weight, become healthy, and help make a greener world.
A note to the skeptics: At the age of 24 when I started this, I weighed 276lbs. I’m at week 10 in my vegan journey, including that month that I was a “failed” vegetarian and I have already lost 28lbs. Watch me go…
-Jessica Marie LaPelusa