[The Daily Princetonian - opinion]

I became a vegetarian when I was 8 -- or at least, that's what I like
to tell people.

My father has been a vegetarian since before I was born. Though he is
very soft-spoken about his reasons, it was hard not to notice that my
parents ate different dinners every night. At the age of 8, I decided
I agreed with my father. I felt that animals have a basic right to
life. I had no excuse for killing or hurting another creature when my
life did not depend on it.

But while I was forming these ideas and calling myself a vegetarian,
my actions didn't exactly follow suit. In truth, I began the process
of becoming a vegetarian at the age of 8, but I did not give up all
meat overnight.
I have now been vegan for two months. Within four days of that first
breakfast, I was gulping down the soy milk and felt disgusted at the
thought of cow's milk, which I once loved. My eyes learned to skip
over the eggs at breakfast and the cheese at lunch or dinner. I now
feel both psychologically and physically healthier. And I no longer
feel like I am depriving myself of good foods. My tastes have changed.

I offer my story not to convert those who fundamentally disagree with
my premise, nor to condescend to those who agree with me but have yet
to renounce meat or dairy. Rather, my story is testament to how hard
becoming vegetarian or vegan can be and how long it can take -- 12
years in my case. To those who support animal welfare, I encourage you
to take whatever steps toward veganism you can, if you find it too
hard to go 'cold turkey.' Others may be considering going vegetarian
or vegan because of the increasing evidence that the meat industry
contributes significantly to climate change or because diets high in
meat are unhealthy. Whatever your motive, every step helps. You don't
have to give up all animal products at once to make a difference. And
ultimately, if the other option is giving up, it's worth taking baby
steps to achieve a goal you believe in.

Miriam Geronimus is a sophomore from Ann Arbor, Mich. She can be
reached at .

full story:

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