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Jessica Rooney's Vegetarian Manifesto

Today, my vegetarian lifestyle feels so natural that even its more unusual moments feel completely normal. A turkey-less Thanksgiving? Why, of course! Eating raw limes and ginger on spinach leaves? Sounds delicious! Biscuits and gravy with seitan sausage? A fabulous idea! I'll take a double helping.

The Asparagus Juice Miracle

However, my first run-in with vegetarianism was anything but graceful.

The scene: our kitchen (table, rug, lobster-shaped jello molds). The characters: my mother (stage left); my brother (high chair). The year: unknown. The villian: asparagus juice.

Juice made from asparagus. A vegetable, turned liquid by my mother's trusty Cuisinart. Needless to say, when my mother set a full glass in front of me, I immediately drew in a breath to throw the most volatile tantrum I could muster.

But then, I noticed that my younger brother drinking his asparagus with gusto, and the shock evaporated my tears. It just made no sense. Liking this alien drink, this monstrous vegetable nightmare? Its putrid color, its frothy head? Impossible. But there was my tiny brother, slurping it up like a molded milkshake. I could only stare.

Eggplant Vs. Hamburgers

Jump cut through two decades of hazy memories, and you find me in a very different role. Now I am the one munching away on concoctions of eggplants and tofu, while my hamburger-holding friends raise their eyebrows. The curiosity that sprung from my run-in with that asparagus juice has bloomed into full vegetarianism, and I am in debt to that smelly punch.

At an early age, it made me stop and think, reconsider my assumptions, and get over my food fears. Even though it would be many years before I would give up meat completely, I think my current vegetarianism began that very day. Of course, the cost of this transformation has been a chronic aversion to asparagus, but then again, I suppose some wounds are just too deep to heal.

A Vegetarian Manifesto

Vegetarianism is important – for the individual, for our growing world population, for our overburdened planet. Luckily, vegetarianism is extremely doable, and a lifestyle change anyone can make, if they choose to.

In my conversations with people (as well as in my blog writing), I hope to encourage others to better understand this lifestyle, to provide recipes and links, and to create discussion about the responsibilities of eating. After all, being a vegetarian doesn't mean that you are ‘giving up' on anything – but rather, gaining a new life outlook that allows you to reconsider what, how, and why you eat.

Conversations With Carnivores

But to be clear: my goal is not to start a crusade against carnivores. Vegetarianism is not for everybody, and meat-eaters are not bad people. Instead, I try to provide information and resources, and then let others decide what to make of it on their own.

In the end, what truly matters is awareness - whether one moves into strict veganism, or simply cuts back on meat consumption. We are responsible for the effect our eating habits have on the world, its creatures, and our own bodies. Through my writing, I hope to set my own glass of asparagus juice on the table – to challenge stereotypes, to cause reflection, and to inspire readers to try a lifestyle they may never have considered before.

The world of vegetarianism is broad, exciting, ready for exploration…and doesn't only consist of pureed vegetables. I promise.

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