Last fall, after nearly 26 years of eating meat, I made the decision to become a vegetarian. There were plenty of reasons why I made the switch, and I can certainly say that I’m glad I finally did it. In fact, there’s really only one thing I miss since I became a vegetarian, and that’s the unparalleled thrill that came from having animals killed for my pleasure.

Cutting out meat from my diet completely changed my life—I’m eating healthier, I’m helping the environment, and I’m saving money. The only real drawback has been the profound sadness I feel when I remember that animals are no longer being murdered on my behalf. I miss knowing that the food on my plate was once a living, breathing creature that spent its entire life suffering just so that I may have a few minutes of joy at dinner. And while there are plenty of viable, non-meat ways to get your protein, no amount of tofu can ever replace the rush of direct responsibility for a chicken’s gruesome, inhumane death.

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I have to admit, I was pretty hesitant about the whole vegetarian thing at first—how could I live without cheeseburgers and bacon? But I really don’t miss the taste of meat at all! The thought of it is now completely unappetizing to me, except for the fact that it’s the flesh of a dead animal that has been slaughtered in my honor as if I were some sort of Greek god whose whims hold power over life or death. I miss the intense satisfaction of sitting down as a meat eater at a restaurant, surveying the menu and callously choosing life or death for a cow or pig.

Being vegetarian comes with its own set of struggles, but they’ve been okay for the most part. I can put up with my family constantly pestering me to eat meat when the restaurant only has one or two meatless options. The only part that still nags at me is that when I order my chickpeas and lentils, I am no longer causing animals to die. There’s simply no substitute for sitting proudly at the top of the food chain and eating something that has been murdered just for you.

The benefits of vegetarianism are too many to list, and I’d recommend it to anyone. You’ll feel lighter, younger, and more energetic. Just be ready for the occasional pang of remorse when you walk past the butcher at your grocery store, see the various cuts of steak, and realize that none of those cows has died for you. Going meatless was one of the best decisions I ever made, but even I’ll confess that sometimes, when I see my friends plow through a plate of buffalo wings, I still miss being an instigator of death.

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