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From Carnivore to Climatarian

By Melanie Formosa

Growing up, my meals always included a portion of meat, whether that be chicken, ground beef, or steak.  This is how it was for the first 25 years of life and I couldn’t imagine a meal without any form of meat included.  During college I had some friends that were vegetarian and I considered limiting my meat consumption, but I just didn’t know how to go about doing it. It seemed like a huge feat to accomplish without any baseline knowledge about how to cook vegetarian food. I just felt paralyzed, like I was staring up at a mountain that I had no idea how to climb.  How could I eliminate meat if it was in every meal that I ate, I had no idea what vegetarian recipes to follow, and I had always relied on meat for the nutrients that my body needed?

I also felt that in going vegetarian, my decision had to be one or the other, either I was 100% vegetarian or not. I felt like there was no in between. Effectively, I felt like there wasn’t anything I could do to lessen my carbon footprint and I just continued doing what I’ve always known.

As a D1 athlete, it was difficult to get enough calories and protein even before cutting down on meat. For people with high energy demands, it’s important to learn about nutritious and balanced vegetarian meals before dramatically changing your diet.

However, I recently stepped out of my comfort zone and discovered seitan after getting takeout from a vegan restaurant, Ginger Root. It opened my eyes to a completely different world.  Upon taking my first bite, I was greeted with the familiar texture of meat that I was used to all my life. Immediately, I thought, “I could totally substitute meat with seitan and I would still have as equally as great of a meal. Why isn’t everyone doing this?”  Going forward, I now have a way to lessen my consumption of meat and contribution to global warming.  Switching out meat for a substitute like seitan is a great compromise for people that don’t want to completely cut meat out of their meals.

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