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When I decided to become a vegetarian, it was not for the reasons many people might normally assume. I had just moved to Malaysia and I often came across people who abstained from meat for religious reasons or because of health issues, but for me being a vegetarian is more of a lifestyle choice. In the months before moving to Malaysia, I had begun living plastic-free as part of a zero waste lifestyle. Of course, this has had several major positive influences on my life, but one of the greatest takeaways so far has been opting for a more plant-based diet.
Ever since I started my journey to living with less waste, I have constantly been looking for new ways to limit my individual impact on the planet. I regularly shopped at bulk food stores with my own reusable containers, but nothing has been more effective than removing meat from my diet. Without knowing it, my individual response to plastic packaging and composting had unearthed thoughts on the unethical and environmentally unsound practices of animal agriculture around the world. Thus, by the time I moved to Malaysia, I was ready to kick my daily meat-eating habits, replacing beef and chicken with leafy greens and seafood to help ease the transition.
In the months since, it has been challenging at times to stay motivated. That is why it is important to have like-minded friends, who will remind you to keep moving forward when you encounter problems. It was also difficult for me to realize that there were more options out there than just salad, green beans, and asparagus. Here in Malaysia, one can have an entire buffet of vegetarian options. Having grown up in a small-town in Alabama to a family occupationally obsessed with cows and meat eating, the concept of vegetables being a stand-alone meal was the hardest for me to grasp because they had always been mere supporting side dishes to the more substantial slab of beef, chicken, or fish.
The things I have learned since switching to the green side have ranged from mastering the art of cooking to taking advantage of seasonal produce. When I found myself bored, I approached an ingredient differently and cooked something new. Thus, instead of missing that cut of rib-eye steak, I discovered I really enjoyed the taste and texture of roasted eggplant. Being creative with cooking my food allowed me to go on without missing my meaty past. I transitioned slowly by first cutting out beef, chicken, and pork, before gradually removing seafood. Unfortunately, anchovies and prawn paste are quite common in Malaysian food, so that continues to be a challenge at most restaurants.
Incorporating a vegetarian diet has had a truly “mind, body and sour’ effect on me. Since I made the decision to be a vegetarian, I have become more mindful of what I eat and where the food comes from. My body has reaped several rewards as well. Not only have I become more aware of the effects the food I eat has on my body, but I have also started losing weight while eating just as much as I did before. My skin has improved, too (partly thanks to the plant-based skincare products I have personally blended for myself), and I have rarely fallen ill. Of course, vegetarian meals take more time to prepare than throwing a chunk of meat on the grill, but I have never felt healthier than I do today.
Since the transition to a vegetarian diet, my life has changed tremendously. What I have learned so far is that vegetarianism is not a package deal. It does not dictate a set of rules on how one should live. More importantly, though, this lifestyle gives people a cause to care and inspires them to be more aware of the struggles our animal friends face in factory farms. If living a zero waste lifestyle rekindles a sense of environmentalism and conservation, a plant-based diet instils a sense of compassion.
(Adapted from “How my life changed after I became a vegetarian” by В. T. Ramsey)
1. The author became a vegetarian
1) because his friends didn’t eat meat.
2) due to religious reasons.
3) as a result of his way of life.
4) because meat was harmful to his health.
2. What was NOT the author’s motive for becoming a vegetarian?
1) Having like-minded friends.
2) Producing less waste.
3) Protesting against inhumane practices of agriculture.
4) Minimizing environmental impact.
3. The expression “kick my daily meat-eating habits in paragraph 2 (“…by the time I moved to Malaysia, I was ready to kick my daily meat-eating habits…”) is synonymic to…
1) keep eating meat-based products
2) decrease eating meat-based products.
3) increase eating meat-based products.
4) stop eating meat-based products.
4. What was the most difficult part in the author’s transition to a plant-based diet?
1) Not to eat beef, chicken or fish.
2) To realize that vegetables can be the main course.
3) To have lots of vegetarian dishes to choose from.
4) To stay motivated and keep moving forward.
5. What has changed in the author’s life since he became a vegetarian?
1) He visited only vegetarian restaurants.
2) He ate only fresh produce from local markets.
3) He learned to cook vegetarian dishes.
4) He began missing meat dishes.
6. According to the author, what is NOT the effect of being a vegetarian?
1) Losing weight without any special effort.
2) Staying healthy.
3) Using famous skincare products.
4) Becoming more environmentally conscious.
7. In the final paragraph the author emphasizes that vegetarianism…
1) promotes a sense of environmentalism.
2) raises people’s awareness of animal extinction.
3) is not a package deal.
4) makes people more sympathetic.
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