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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.

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

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!

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Amazon

Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

Even as millions of Americans celebrated the inauguration of President Joe Biden this week, the nation also mourned the fact that, for the first time in modern history, the United States did not have a peaceful transition of power.

With the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, when pro-Trump insurrectionists attempted to stop the constitutional process of counting electoral votes and where terrorists threatened to kill lawmakers and the vice president for not keeping Trump in power, our long and proud tradition was broken. And although presidential power was ultimately transferred without incident on January 20, the presence of 20,000 National Guard troops around the Capitol reminded us of the threat that still lingers.

First Lady Jill Biden showed up today with cookies in hand for a group of National Guard troops at the Capitol to thank them for keeping her family safe. The homemade chocolate chip cookies were a small token of appreciation, but one that came from the heart of a mother whose son had served as well.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.