Recently, I was moved by an encounter with my father’s friend, Mark. I have known him my whole life and yet somehow I have been unaware that he has been a vegetarian for the past 25 years. After my recent discovery, I asked him why, and he replied, “I don’t eat anything dead.”

Mark is an older businessman who is constantly traveling and has dinners out constantly, so I was shocked at how easily he seemed to be vegetarian and how humble he was about not eating meat.

Since I was a little girl I have wanted to stop eating meat. I love animals and always have, even cows and pigs.

However, I struggled to achieve a meat-free diet growing up in Chihuahua, Mexico and Dallas, Texas — two heavily meat-focused cultures. My family loved consuming meat and looked at me like I was crazy for wanting to do anything else.

Nevertheless, my yearning to go meat-free only grew as I learned of the horrible environmental effects of the meat industry. To produce just one pound of beef requires up to 1,800 gallons of water. By going pescetarian — a diet that does not eat any meat, but only fish — you can lower your footprint by just over half. So, I chose this as a transition to ultimately becoming a vegetarian.

On my journey to quitting meat, I had many realizations. First, I realized it is important to start slow. Quitting meat overnight can cause your body to become depleted of its vital nutrients. Years ago, I wanted to become a vegan and started without a transition. All week I did not know what to eat, so I only ate tofu. By the end of the week, I had to see a doctor due to nutrient depletion. It’s important to become informed before changing your diet so drastically and figuring out how to replace meat protein.

So, this time around I decided to go pescatarian. I have also integrated grains, avocados, beans and a variety of nuts. I have found it quite easy to transition to eating only fish and I feel an extreme lightness throughout my body. I believe a lot of meat in the USA is highly processed, and no longer having this in my body has changed the way I feel significantly.

Once I got over the initial shock of the sudden change, I felt my body functioning at a higher level. I feel light and toxin-free. I noticed in hot yoga that even my sweat smells different. I would say it’s much less stinky? Anyways, my experience has been quite positive and I hope this little bit of insight helps you!