Seven-year-old me, with curly hair up to my ears and buck teeth, stared down confused at a sizable portion of cod my mom had cooked for me.
“Mom, was this fishey taken out of the ocean?”
“No honey, this is not real fish, it’s fake. Don’t worry, no fishey’s were harmed to make your dinner.”
Biggest lie of my life. How naïve did my mother think I was?
From that day on, at just 7 years of age, I made a decision that would alter my life forever – I decided to go vegetarian.
The act of eating something that once had a heartbeat sent shivers down my spine – and still does.
I dabbled in vegetarianism for years throughout my late childhood, then finally made the full switch to the beneficial diet at the end of middle school.
Throughout my adolescence, I was constantly asked why I was vegetarian.
To me, the answer was simple – eating dead animals was wrong.
Being a budding health nut, I did my research.
I got further interested in vegetarianism because of the health benefits such as: reducing the chance of obesity, lowering the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and lessening the odds of cancer.
The aroma of buffalo and A1 sauce filled my nose at summer barbeques, as my grandfather is a retired butcher and grill master.
The temptation was real.
My mother relentlessly begged me to eat turkey sandwiches for protein.
Friends tried influencing me to eat chicken nuggets at McDonalds after field hockey practice.
Nonetheless, I persevered with my new-found knowledge of the health advantages.
Despite growing up in an Italian family with a butcher patriarch, I stayed true to my beliefs, as I was a stubborn girl with a passion for animals and taking care of my body.
I still am.
Most say being vegetarian is a boring diet with scarce options for protein.
Kidney beans, tofu, tempeh, edamame and chickpeas are excellent sources of protein while being distinct in flavor – spicing up any meal.
Years passed, and what started off as a diet change, became a lifestyle I swear by.
During my life, I have followed a path my heart knows is right, no matter the opinions of others.
Making the choice to abide by vegetarianism taught me how strong willed I am.
Fast forward several years, and I am sitting in the FSU dining commons, with a few girls who would become my closest friends here.
Two are vegetarian and one is vegan.
After observing our lifestyles and spending copious amounts of time with us, two other friends became vegetarian.
Never have I been surrounded by this many friends who share the same values as I.
I am proud of myself for believing in a cause that saves numerous animals and keeps my body healthy.