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Start a Conversation about Vegetarianism by Underscoring Benefits

Vegetarianism conversations college students direct benefits

A vegetarian diet is colorful and delicious as well as healthy. (Image: Finerminds.com)

Feeling misunderstood about being a vegetarian? All too often the words “I’m a vegetarian, I don’t eat meat” are met with eye rolls and judgment. If you’re like me, you know meat may be one of the most staggering forms of waste in existence. You’re vegetarian to reduce the waste of resources and help mitigate climate change. Regrettably, when I try to explain this to my peers at college, I might come off as moralistic and, well, just plain annoying. To add to the struggle, many people think a vegetarian diet doesn’t provide enough protein, isn’t satisfying, and tastes bad.  Happily, strategies exist to reverse these attitudes. I should know, because I overcame them myself. If you want to start a conversation with your friends or family about why vegetarianism is a great option full of personal benefits, follow my tips:

1. Forget the Climate

According to the Earth Day Network, if you ate one less burger a week, it would represent the equivalent of taking your car off the road for 320 miles.  However, for many people climate change is a scary discussion. There are issues that seem more immediate to them. However, this doesn’t mean that they may not be interested in learning more about the connections between vegetarianism and especially locally oriented environmental issues. If possible, talk about local water use, land use, and deforestation issues that your friends and family care about.

Vegetarian conversation benefits

2. Talk about How Tasty Vegetarian Dishes Can Be

The culinary possibilities of vegetarian recipes are as endless as they are delicious. Help disbelievers see that vegetarianism offers the opportunity to try new things and be creative with their meals; more options are becoming available every day. One can even recreate vegetarian versions of barbeque classics. For instance, try jackfruit as a substitute for pulled pork (Chances are, your meat-eating friends will think it’s real pork.) Host a vegetarian potluck where everyone brings a different dish, and surprise your friends with the variety represented.  And thanks to new technology from companies with names like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, burger taste-alikes are being created from plants. Learn more about this amazing new technology here.

Need some recipes? Here are some of my favorites, all of which are quick and easy to make:

Italian Pesto Pasta Salad

Zucchini Flatbread with Onions, Arugula and Goat Cheese

Barbecue Pulled Jackfruit Tacos

If you need more inspiration, visit Tasty Vegetarian on Facebook where new recipes are posted everyday.

Vegetarianism conversations college students direct benefits

(Image: Animalblawg)

3. Underscore the Health Benefits of Vegetarianism

A vegetarian diet is just as nutritious as a diet that includes meat.  It can also help curb obesity, heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes. In short, it can help you live longer. As with any diet, it can be unhealthy if one is not careful, but when done right a vegetarian diet will lower one’s risk of chronic disease. Plus, you don’t have to worry about consuming the growth hormones and antibiotics often used to raise meat.

4. Stress How Vegetarian Meals Can Save Money

As a college student, I know the lengths people will go to save a dollar or two. But how about even more than that? Research suggests vegetarians can save at least $750 per year (Time.com). Meat is more expensive than produce, grains, and legumes– it’s as simple as that. You’ll even have some extra time to compliment that extra cash, as vegetarian recipes are generally quicker and easier to prepare than ones that involve meat.

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5. Talk About the Cool People

Impress your college friends with the facts that Oscar winner Leonardo Dicaprio has sworn off meat, and has even produced a “Cowspiracy”, a documentary exploring the link between animal agriculture and climate change. Natalie Portman also recognizes the staggering environmental cost of factory farming, along with vegans Ariana Grande and Miley Cyrus.

While you’re at it, mention the names of local community leaders who are vegetarians. Share with friends what vegetarianism means to you. Being vegetarian gives me the feeling of having a greater purpose. Every vegetarian meal I eat supports a system that I believe in and helps me do my part to make the planet a better place. It just makes me feel good.

6. Encourage Friends to “JUST TRY IT!”

People don’t have to go ‘whole hog”. (Sorry about that). They can simply cut back on meat some of the time. Learn about “reducetarianism” Here.

So now we can all agree: In addition to helping the planet, a vegetarian diet tastes great, promotes health, saves money, and puts one among the stars, so keep this list handy when it comes time to defend your choice. And be sure to remind your friends that going vegetarian will not turn them into a moralistic hippie!

What are the reasons you decided to go vegetarian, or reduce your meat intake?

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About the Author
Colleen McCarthy is a student at Fordham University where she is majoring in Environmental Studies and Communications. Having grown up by a lake and state park, her interest in the environment started at a young age, and developed as she learned more about the serious impacts human activity has on the environment. Colleen is primarily interested in how she can influence others to adopt more sustainable habits through strategic communication. She is currently helping to create a greener campus at Fordham with Student Government’s Sustainability Committee.
  1. Abby Meyers Reply

    Great ideas! In my own efforts to eat less meat, I’ve definitely found gradual changes and creative recipes to be very effective. Social media can also be helpful for those starting a vegetarian diet– following vegetarian bloggers provides both recipe ideas and general motivation.

  2. Suzanne Reply

    Great article. Interesting that concern for animals is not on your list of reasons why going vegetarian. My guess is that is the “other” category.

  3. Lillibeth Liriano Reply

    There are so many reasons to go vegetarian and this article listed some great ones. And YES! I never understood the misconception that Vegan/Vegetarian lifestyles are more expensive than diets that contain meat, so I’m really glad that was brought up.

    I think the best thing we can do when it comes to our friends is lead by example – show them all the yummy and healthy foods we eat, and that there are in fact so many options!

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