My life as a vegetarian


photo taken by Peggy Greb, released to the Agricultural Research Service.

Chelsea Asante, Staff Writer

*TRIGGER WARNING! Themes of body dysmorphia and eating disorders coming up*


“Vegetarian” – a person who does not eat meat, and sometimes other animal products, especially for moral, religious, or health reasons. 


From 2020 through 2021, I went a year without eating any meat (with the exception of eggs because it’s still up for debate whether eggs are considered a meat or dairy product) and this is my experience. 


After the shutdown of school because of COVID-19, I decided to start my weight loss journey. At the time, I was 142 lbs. As a beginner to the fitness world, I will admit, I made a lot of mistakes, as anyone would, we’re all human. But one of my most impactful experiences was becoming a vegetarian. To clarify, becoming vegetarian wasn’t the mistake, it was my unhealthy relationship with meat, and food in general, that was the issue. 


I started working out to feel better about myself. And I did feel better. I felt healthier, stronger, and happier. But during COVID, all we had was our technology. So I became more infused in social media, and I became more aware of the body types around me. The hourglass figures, the slim face, the lean legs. I was insecure. I wanted to look like those women. So I searched up ways to lose weight. And one of the first things that came up was becoming vegetarian/vegan. 


I loved meat. I loved chicken, beef, and seafood. I loved it all. But I wanted to look like those fashion models, even if it meant giving up what I loved to eat. So I stopped adding chicken to my rice, I searched up vegetarian foods I could eat, I became more invested in my veggies. And I felt great. I mean, who wouldn’t? A lot of the meat we eat on a daily basis is fried, greasy, and full of fat. So once I cut that out, I felt pure. Clean. And I did lose weight! I lost a ton. I lost 20 pounds! I was so proud of myself. But, I still didn’t look like them. My stomach was still boxy, my arms had fat on it, my thighs were huge, and I still had my chubby face. 


This started to spiral into something much bigger. Eventually, I resorted to something that would get me the results I wanted. I stopped eating. It went from skipping breakfast, to skipping meals, to going a few days without eating, which soon turned into weeks. I hated myself. I would cry looking at myself in the mirror. I would call suicide hotlines just to tell someone how I’ve been feeling. I was in pain. I just wanted to feel better. My family doctor was concerned with my drastic change in diet. She knew I was struggling. But no matter how hard she encouraged me to keep pushing, I would gag even thinking about eating a meal. And when I would eat, I would obsess over the calories. If it was above 120 calories, tough luck at getting me to eat it. 


I don’t recall the moment I started to progress, but I remember I would start to eat some meat little by little again. I stopped paying attention to the calories. I stopped obsessing over looking skinny, and I naturally began to embrace the diversities of my body. I am now 10x better than I was before. I’m working on balancing my diet to benefit me, not hurt me. 


I enjoyed being vegetarian. I learned so much about different foods, and I learned some things about myself as well. But at the same time, it was never for me in the first place. I encourage everyone reading this to take care of themselves. Don’t be ashamed of yourself. Stop looking in the mirror, you look great, I promise.