My first job after college was at a casino, dealing blackjack, craps and roulette. During our time in dealer training school, some friends and I took a trip to Atlantic City. I had never been in a casino before and wanted to see the dealers in action. After 4 hours in the car, we were all starving by the time we arrived. So, we decided to eat lunch at the food court in one of the casinos before we started exploring. I ordered a burger and some fries.
A few hours later, my stomach began to hurt. No big deal, I thought. It will pass. Unfortunately, it only got worse. I looked around frantically for the nearest bathroom and prayed there was no line. I will spare you the unpleasant details, but let’s just say that the janitor on duty that evening probably thought about a career change after he or she got done cleaning that bathroom.
Somehow I managed to drag myself up to our hotel room, where I spent the rest of the night curled up in the fetal position, either on the bed or on the bathroom floor. The next day, I couldn’t eat anything. The smell of food was unappealing. Needless to say, I wasn’t anxious to eat another hamburger anytime soon. In fact, my desire to eat meat at all was in question.
This was not my first bout with food poisoning, though I can assure you it was the worst. I can recall 4 other instances in which I became very ill after eating contaminated food. The common denominator in all of these cases was that I had eaten meat from a fast food establishment.
Soon after my latest food poisoning experience, I came across The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan on my dad’s bookshelf. I’ve always been interested in food and health, so it piqued my interest. After finishing the book, I announced to my parents that I would no longer be eating meat or dairy products.
Everyone has different motivations for adopting a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle. My initial reason was for my health. As I continued to read and learn more about the subject, I discovered many other benefits. Now, I not only live this way for my health, but also for the environment, sustainability and animal rights.
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