Heroes

5 reasons why vegetarians can feel great about their meat-free lives

With help from a friend, here's a not-at-all-definitive list of reasons to say goodbye to bacon.

As a vegetarian, I'm told it's my duty to tell you that Oct. 1 is World Vegetarian Day! Salutations!

Hello, dear reader! Like billions of others on this pale blue dot of ours, I once ate meat. Lots and lots of meat.


My kingdom for a boneless chicken wing. *sigh* Photo by Parker Molloy/Upworthy.

But a couple months back, that changed.

The why isn't really important because the decision to change your diet is a highly personal one. But there are loads of great reasons why people mix it up as I did. What kinds of reasons? Well...

I'm a relative newbie to being vegetarian, so I reached out to a friend for some tips.

His name is Jamie Kilstein. He's a comedian and musician from New York. You may have seen his videos about LGBT rights, religion, and sexism featured here at Upworthy.

Oh yeah, he's also really into mixed martial arts. And he's sick of people asking him where he gets his protein from. Photo by Jamie Kilstein.

He's also vegan, so ... like, a super-vegetarian, and therefore obviously better than me. I asked him for five reasons someone should go vegetarian that have nothing to do with health (because hey, your body, your health). Here's what he told me.

1. Do you like animals?

This one's pretty obvious. "You know when you are supposed to be working but you're watching weird videos on Facebook of pigs sneaking into swimming pools and and rabbits attacking muggers or whatever weird crap is on Facebook?" Jamie asks. "Don't eat them!"

Also, LOOK HOW CUTE THE TINY LITTLE BABY PIGS ARE PLAYING WITH KIDS. Photo via iStock.

"We love animals, we love our cats and pictures of cats and everything cat, but there is such a dissociation between the cute animals we see and what we eat," Jamie told me. "Once you see a pig and learn they are smarter than dogs and just as sweet, it's harder to want to eat them."

Got it. If you like animals, then maybe don't eat them.

2. Stopping climate change which omg omg omg is going to kill us all.

If you list what contributes the most to climate change, you probably picture smokestacks, factories, Hummers, and stuff like that, right?

Mmmm, smog. Photo via iStock.

But really, the livestock industry contributes massively to climate change. Welp.


"Factory farms are such a huge part of climate change and you get to give them the finger when you don't eat their cut-up dead animals," he said, pointing out that if the world gave up eating beef, it'd actually have a bigger impact on carbon emissions than if we abolished cars. "It's so hard to make a tangible difference in this world, but this is a way to!"

3. Dope-ass food! No one craves raw meat.

Vegetarian (and vegan) food can be pretty tasty! Here's a picture of some vegan goodness from Jamie's Instagram page.

Tomato basil almond ricotta and more goodness! #vegan #veganfood #veganfoodporn #veganfighter #bjj #jiujitsu #thisiswhereigetmyprotein
A photo posted by Jamie Kilstein (@veganmma) on

"Even the people who say, 'Yo I'm paleo bro; do you even crossfit?!' don't eat like cavemen because cavemen didn't get their food at Whole Foods! You crave texture and sauces and smells," he says. "Ever since going vegan I've eaten such amazing different types of food I would have never tried before, and I feel amazing. The world isn't what it used to be where if you ask for a vegan option they angrily throw a tomato at you. Jump on Instagram and check it out!"

4. Human rights! Ending world hunger!

This was something that I didn't even think about, but Jamie is totally right.

Not quite sure exactly what this photo is supposed to represent, but it seemed to work. Photo via iStock.

"People always go, 'Well, why do you care about animals more than people?' That's not true! (Except for cats, remember number 1?) We could feed so many more people with a veg diet instead of feeding all of the crops to fatten up animals to feed less people. Plus the conditions on the factory farms and the kill floors for the workers would make you drop that burger pretty fast," Jamie said.

5. Knowing you are a better person than everyone! (OK, not really.)


"Right, Morrissey?! (Kidding) ((Kinda)) (((Not really))) TRY IT!"

Not ready to give up meat cold turkey? No worries! There are other things you can do to help.

Consider cutting back on your meat consumption. One great idea that's been getting a lot of hype lately has been "Meatless Mondays," which is exactly what it sounds like. Giving your body one meat-free day a week has some health benefits, but it also helps reduce the carbon footprint that goes along with our meat-eating world. It doesn't have to be all or nothing to make a difference, and the choice is ultimately up to you! Good luck!

Moricz was banned from speaking up about LGBTQ topics. He found a brilliant workaround.

Senior class president Zander Moricz was given a fair warning: If he used his graduation speech to criticize the “Don’t Say Gay” law, then his microphone would be shut off immediately.

Moricz had been receiving a lot of attention for his LGBTQ activism prior to the ceremony. Moricz, an openly gay student at Pine View School for the Gifted in Florida, also organized student walkouts in protest and is the youngest public plaintiff in the state suing over the law formally known as the Parental Rights in Education law, which prohibits the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-3.

Though well beyond third grade, Moricz nevertheless was also banned from speaking up about the law, gender or sexuality. The 18-year-old tweeted, “I am the first openly-gay Class President in my school’s history–this censorship seems to show that they want me to be the last.”

However, during his speech, Moricz still delivered a powerful message about identity. Even if he did have to use a clever metaphor to do it.

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Photo by Heather Mount on Unsplash

Actions speak far louder than words.

It never fails. After a tragic mass shooting, social media is filled with posts offering thoughts and prayers. Politicians give long-winded speeches on the chamber floor or at press conferences asking Americans to do the thing they’ve been repeatedly trained to do after tragedy: offer heartfelt thoughts and prayers. When no real solution or plan of action is put forth to stop these senseless incidents from occurring so frequently in a country that considers itself a world leader, one has to wonder when we will be honest with ourselves about that very intangible automatic phrase.

Comedian Anthony Jeselnik brilliantly summed up what "thoughts and prayers" truly mean. In a 1.5-minute clip, Jeselnik talks about victims' priorities being that of survival and not wondering if they’re trending at that moment. The crowd laughs as he mimics the actions of well-meaning social media users offering thoughts and prayers after another mass shooting. He goes on to explain how the act of performatively offering thoughts and prayers to victims and their families really pulls the focus onto the author of the social media post and away from the event. In the short clip he expertly expresses how being performative on social media doesn’t typically equate to action that will help victims or enact long-term change.

Of course, this isn’t to say that thoughts and prayers aren’t welcomed or shouldn’t be shared. According to Rabbi Jack Moline "prayer without action is just noise." In a world where mass shootings are so common that a video clip from 2015 is still relevant, it's clear that more than thoughts and prayers are needed. It's important to examine what you’re doing outside of offering thoughts and prayers on social media. In another several years, hopefully this video clip won’t be as relevant, but at this rate it’s hard to see it any differently.

Joy

50-years ago they trade a grilled cheese for a painting. Now it's worth a small fortune.

Irene and Tony Demas regularly traded food at their restaurant in exchange for crafts. It paid off big time.

Photo by Gio Bartlett on Unsplash

Painting traded for grilled cheese worth thousands.

The grilled cheese at Irene and Tony Demas’ restaurant was truly something special. The combination of freshly baked artisan bread and 5-year-old cheddar was enough to make anyone’s mouth water, but no one was nearly as devoted to the item as the restaurant’s regular, John Kinnear.

Kinnear loved the London, Ontario restaurant's grilled cheese so much that he ordered it every single day, though he wouldn’t always pay for it in cash. The Demases were well known for bartering their food in exchange for odds and ends from local craftspeople and merchants.

“Everyone supported everyone back then,” Irene told the Guardian, saying that the couple would often trade free soup and a sandwich for fresh flowers. Two different kinds of nourishment, you might say.

And so, in the 1970s the Demases made a deal with Kinnear that he could pay them for his grilled cheese sandwiches with artwork. Being a painter himself and part of an art community, Kinnear would never run out of that currency.

Little did Kinnear—or anyone—know, eventually he would give the Demases a painting worth an entire lifetime's supply of grilled cheeses. And then some.

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