On October 15, 1995, one of the greatest episodes of "The Simpsons" aired. It was titled "Lisa the Vegetarian" and it chronicles Lisa's decision to stop eating meat and the ostracism and hardships that followed.
Slate has a great piece about the history of that episode that you can read at this link: Lisa the Vegetarian.
I was 9-years-old when that episode came out. I always liked it and have seen it countless times. "You don't win friends with salad" is one of the funniest moments in the show's history.
For me, personally, I toyed around with the idea of being a vegetarian for probably a year before I really got into it. I remember one day being in Wal-Mart and looking at the meat section. There were so many cuts of steak and chicken sitting there. Then past it was the processed lunch meats. Off to my left was the frozen chicken nuggets and burritos and whatnot.
I looked at that and thought to myself, "I wonder how many animals those are?" And then I thought about every grocery store in the area around me that has those same amounts of animals. Then I zoomed it out further to think about surrounding areas, then zoomed out further and more broadly looked at the entire scene. And it really stuck out just how many dead animals were bagged up around me.
And we've all heard the stories about the poor conditions that these animals live in, chickens and cows and pigs. Go research that if you don't.
So I decided that I didn't want to have a part in that. I didn't want to contribute to something that I didn't feel was humane. So at some point late in the spring of 2014, I made the decision to become a vegetarian.
One of my biggest issues was making sure I could be healthy and maintain that lifestyle. I know people can do it. Two of my favorite wrestlers did not eat meat. CM Punk was a vegetarian during his record-setting WWE Championship reign. As he trains for his UFC debut, I'm not sure if he still follows that diet. Daniel Bryan has been recognized by PETA for his vegan lifestyle. He initially started it when he was getting sick a lot and his doctor told him that his body would have more energy if it didn't have to digest meat. Oddly enough, about five years later his body developed an intolerance to soy and he had to start eating meat again.
It worked for most of the summer. I enjoyed a lot of potatoes and rice and salads and trail mix. I tried to work with tofu, but that was hard to figure out what I was doing there. Veggie dogs had an odd taste to them, but I realized that regular hot dogs did as well, so I rolled with it.
I had a few friends who were really supportive of it. Some were kind of curious, asking questions. And then some were just assholes.
Ultimately, I stopped being a vegetarian for the same reason I stop most things: laziness. I still hold the same beliefs. I don't like contributing to the meat industry. But I have realized that me making a stand won't do anything. It won't stop what's happening. I'll still occasionally realize "I haven't eaten meat for three days. That's cool." But, done are the days of scouring the McDonald's menu to figure out what is vegetarian. Basically, I could eat french fries and salads without the chicken on them.
And so that's my tale of being a vegetarian. I toyed around with the idea of writing an article for Thought Catalog back then along the lines of "Best vegetarian options at fast food restaurants." McDonald's didn't have good choices. Taco Bell had multiple options if you played around with it a little bit. Burger King sold a veggie burger at one point. Stuff like that. Never got around to it.
But, yeah, that's a great episode of The Simpsons. I have some more ideas of things to write that involve that show. That's still in the planning stage. As the time draws closer, I'll give more details.