One of my biggest hopes in regards to the ongoing pandemic is that it will force Americans to embrace a more sustainable, holistic lifestyle.

That hope got a boost recently as news outlets across the country reported dwindling meat supplies due to coronavirus outbreaks among workers at major meatpacking facilities.

The shortage has been felt in Bryan where the local Wendy’s was no longer offering double- and triple-hamburgers.

A disclaimer: I do not wish ill on any local farmers who are good stewards of the land and treat their animals humanely. Nor do I celebrate the pain of our local food-based businesses, which were already feeling the pinch due to state orders even before the meat shortages were reported.

All that being said, though, the sooner Americans kick their dependence on overconsumption of meat, the better.

Two years ago I made the decision to embrace a plant-based diet and I feel much healthier now in all respects.

I try not to push this lifestyle on others — no matter how much I feel it would benefit them as individuals, and mankind as a whole.

However, amid this meat shortage, this seems to be a good time to publicly show my support and address some of the typical questions and complaints I hear when I do mention my eating habits.

Most people seem to acknowledge that eating less animal flesh would be beneficial to them and to the rest of the world. However, people often tell me, their diet is simply to ingrained in their life to give up their steak, or bacon, or whatever their favorite dish might be.

But in my experience, making the switch is easier than you might expect.

Of course, there are days I miss the taste of a burger. But after experimenting with new recipes, my taste buds have awoken to the possibilities that beans, rice and veggies can offer with the right spices. I’ll take a bowl of my chickpea and pineapple coconut curry over your pulled pork sandwich any day of the week.

Another complaint I hear is that meat is simply the only way someone can satisfy their hunger.

First of all, if you’re overweight, that might be a sign that your stomach is lying to your brain about how hungry you are. But I’m neither overweight nor a health expert so I’ll defer further comment on that point for now.

Besides, my real answer is not a very scientific one: If you’re hungry just eat more.

Since embracing a plant-based diet, I find myself eating more often. I tend to eat something like four meals a day — although it’s usually more like one meal and seven or eight snacks of varying size.

Having said that, I can already hear the critics telling me about how expensive fresh produce is compared to meat. Depending on your eating habits you might be right.

But personally, my weekly grocery trip hasn’t gotten noticeably more expensive since I made the switch.

And even if you spend a few dollars more on a healthier diet, there’s a good chance you’ll ultimately make that money back through lower health care costs.

And in today’s environment, can you really but a price on your health?

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