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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!

All illustrations are provided by Soosh and used with permission.

I have plenty of space.

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