I Became a Vegetarian- and Lived to Tell the Tale

By Avery Paulen


Photo by The Odyssey.

Vegetarianism is a popular lifestyle amongst many adolescents and adults. Although I hadn’t made my transition until February of 2017, the thought had come across my mind multiple times in the past. It’s certainly not a choice for everyone, but for me, it changed my life.

Prior to my transition into this new lifestyle, I did not know what the true impact of the food I was consuming had on my body. Simply wanting some extra credit points for my biology course my Freshman year, I had attended a lecture that specifically highlighted the benefits of a plant based diet. The lecture included that the consumption of red meat actually adds excess fat to your body, which can increase your risk of cancer and block the flow of blood to vital arteries, such as your heart. Cancer has had an ongoing history in my family, so I figured that the earlier I could reduce my risk of inheriting the disease, the sooner I should take action to do so.

In addition, the presentation stressed the importance of animal rights, displaying rather disturbing images regarding the cruelty of animals to further their argument.

Pascack Hills sophomore Kaia Paulsen states, “I don’t support the harsh treatment of animals in any circumstance, which is why I like to use products such as Lush, which not only refuses to test on animals, but publically denounces it by showing their protest for animal cruelty on their bags.”

Eager to make a change, as well as abstain from being a contributing factor in the cruelty of animals, from that day on, I pledged to never again eat red meat or poultry. My parents, however, weren’t so inclined to the idea. The moment I announced “I’m going vegetarian!” halfway through my Freshman year, they instantly started firing out the questions. “How do you plan to get protein?” (“Beans, tofu, and quinoa, of course!”)

After the questions, came the concerns- my mom was worried that serving two different meals a night would take a lot of extra time and effort on her part. My dad was worried that this was not a healthy enough diet for a growing child and competitive athlete- but sooner rather than later, they both came around. I even managed to encourage better eating habits within my own household, and was enlightened to know that my parents had finally had my back.

In fact, my dad and I have grown closer throughout this experience. We bond by searching for improvements in foods within the vegetarian community. Over dinner one night, my dad announced that he had discovered the “Impossible Burger”, which is expected to replace all animal-based burgers by the year 2035.

I balked at what I heard next. Not only is the “Impossible Burger” not your basic, bland veggie burger or kale burger, but it actually looks, tastes, bleeds, and smells like a real hamburger. Although it hasn’t yet made its way to the New York or New Jersey area, my dad and I are patiently awaiting its arrival as the days progress.

After about a week into becoming a vegetarian, I had become more and more aware of the types of ingredients in the food I was consuming, and felt better about knowing what kind of nutrients my body was ingesting. I felt my energy levels rising, and my stamina had grown stronger than it had ever been before. Not only did I feel less tired all the time and more energetic, but the transition also influenced me to do more cooking, which is something I had never imagined myself doing so early on in life.

Pinterest became my lifesaver towards the beginning of the process. I drew most of my inspiration for the things I cooked from the app that was readily accessible from my phone. A few recipes I tried were crispy buffalo tofu bites, veggie fries four ways, and mayo-free avocado egg salad. You can find the links to my Pinterest page and all of these delicious recipes below!

While I someday hope to become vegan, I am more than happy to be enjoying life now as a vegetarian. I highly encourage, even if you are not looking to eliminate meat fully from your diet, to at least reduce your intake of animal products. By doing so, who knows what changes can be accomplished.

Visit my Pinterest page for vegan/vegetarian recipe ideas.