Food is a very important part of all cultures and religions. It is often a way to unite families and bring communities together. Certain dietary restrictions can be observed based on values, preferences, or local availability.

I am a vegetarian and have been for the past five years. It wasn’t a religious choice or related to culture. To tell you the truth, I was sitting in the cafeteria at the beginning of the year in 6th grade and a friend of mine was eating a strange looking bagel with a veggie spread (she herself stated it was disgusting). The rest of us were sitting there eating out chicken patties and I asked her why she had opted for that meal. She explained that she had seen many horrific videos on PETA about animal cruelty and had made the personal decision to give up meat. Hearing this, I decided to give vegetarianism a shot. I could pretend that I was solely driven to make this decision because of animal cruelty, and though that was a part of it, I really just wanted to try something new and see if I had the will power to make this change in my life.

When I made the announcement to my parents that night, they didn’t quite believe me. My mom has been a vegetarian her whole life. She never tried to convince me to be a vegetarian, deeming that it should be my own choice, but none-the-less was surprised by my sudden decision. My dad on the other hand thought that this was just another phase since I loved eating his shrimp and chicken dishes. My dad and my brother made a bet about when I would crack. My brother thought I would crack the first time we ordered chicken wings from pizza hut, and my dad thought I would the next time he made his special shrimp. Neither of them were right: five years later I am still a vegetarian.

Recently, vegetarianism has been a growing trend in America but it is a way of life for many around the world. Though it many wonder how nutritional needs are met as a vegetarian, there are many options. Most south Indian food is both vegetarian and rich in protein. A typical meal that my mom makes consist of rice, lentils, and yogurt. Restaurants have also become more considerate of vegetarian meals.

No matter where I go, I can find at least one vegetarian option now. Even steak houses offer salads and soups. If you ever are worried about dietary needs or food availability just remember it doesn’t have to be a challenge.


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