Most of the friends I’ve met know that I am a vegetarian. I do not eat meat. I still consume milk products and eggs but I have successfully omitted meat from my diet. It would seem rather normal now but my journey to vegetarianism was extremely challenging.

Whenever someone asks for the reason as to why I decided to become a vegetarian, I would give the short and simple answer that I am an animal lover. This is true but not the full reason. The full reason is that this is my sacrifice to God for answering my prayer. My wife and I wanted a child and had been trying for many years. We spent a lot of money on treatments, doctors appointments and altered our diets and habits but did not see any results. After many years, we decided to give up the idea as it was consuming our normal lives. A friend of mine found out about this and invited me to return to church, as I had not been attending for quite some time, to pray about the matter. I did and on the second week, my wife conceived. She gave birth to a healthy baby girl at the age of 43 in 2015.

What then followed was me deciding that I would want to provide a form of sacrifice to God for answering my prayer. I decided, after some consultation and research about sacrifice, that I would abstain from meat on Fridays. For those who did not know me before I became a vegetarian, I was someone who loved meat and hated vegetables. I was usually the one at the table passing on the side vegetables to others and ordering extra servings of meat. Therefore, to abstain once a week was already a huge deal. However, after a couple of weeks, abstinence from meat on Fridays became less of a challenge. I decided to abstain from meat on weekdays. This then made me crave meat over the weekends. I hosted barbeques over the weekends and ordered slabs of meat to make up for not eating meat earlier in the week. I looked forward to weekends just because it was the time I could eat meat. After a few months, I realised that this was not sacrifice if I was still binge eating my week’s share of meat over two days. It was then that I decided that I would cut out meat from my diet completely.

It may now seem very normal to people around me that I do not eat meat. However, the first few months were extremely tough. I had constant cravings for meat. There were times when the cravings were so bad that I could not sleep properly. I remembered walking past restaurants and having an insane urge to go in and order a steak. I gave in to temptation a couple of times in the first few months and this made me realise that I needed to have a proper plan to make a successful conversion to vegetarianism. I researched about making nutritious and tasty meals over the internet and learned how to prepare them. I got my mother in law, who cooks my meals, and my domestic helper to pack meals for me to bring to work as this would minimise the need for me to go to the food centre where there were stalls selling meat. This worked! Moreover, the meal prep helped me greatly as I exercise a great deal and having well-planned meals aided with my recovery.

My lesson with converting to vegetarianism made me realise that I perhaps could use the same level of discipline to go through the rigours of law school. I’ve always been a decent student but I never thought that I would be pursuing a law degree while I was working. The initial weeks were extremely tough and I had a tough time adapting to dealing with work, studies and family. Here are some of the things that I learned from my journey to vegetarianism that I used to get me through my first year as a law student and hopefully will get me through the next 3 years.


The start is always the toughest

It is important to remember that it will only get easier if you keep at it. You are at your worst when you start doing something for the first time. The key is to keep working at it till you get the hang of it. This is perhaps like learning how to ride a bicycle or learning how to swim. If you don’t actually do it, it will remain something that you struggle at.


You have to cut out the demons in your head

No, I don’t mean that you start to hear voices… If you do, you need to see someone about it… There will be times when you might think “it’s ok to not prepare for class” or “it’s ok to skip class even though I have no valid reason to as there will be a recording of the session”. I had multiple instances where I decided that it was ok to walk into a steakhouse and have the smallest piece of steak but I quickly realised that did not make sense if I wanted to practice vegetarianism. There is this quote by W.K. Hope, “self-discipline is when your conscience tells you to do something and you don’t talk back”. I think he is some author but I just found this quote from him extremely apt for my anecdote.


Planning is essential

The main reason for me being able to eliminate meat from my diet was because I planned my meals. I researched and eventually did meal preps to keep me on course towards my eventual goal. I am doing that for law school as well. I dedicate about 45 minutes to reading during my lunch break and another hour or hour and a half just before I sleep to doing readings and assignments.


Having a supportive ecosystem

I got my family on board with me becoming a vegetarian. The household invariably started to consume much less meat and the dishes on the dining table reflected the stark change. Most importantly, my wife is extremely supportive of me studying law just like she was when I decided to cut meat out of my diet. She did tell me that it was ok to have a little meat at the beginning of my journey although that was because she saw how badly the switch affected me.


Blending in

I do not announce to everyone that I am a vegetarian. If I go to a restaurant and there are dishes with meat on the table, I will just not eat them. If there are vegetables mixed with meat placed before me, I will just eat the vegetables, leaving the meat aside. I did not tell many people around me that I am studying law. Most of my friends do not know that I am a law student. Only the very close ones do. I believe that going to law school should change the way I think and analyse situations. However, it should not change the way I behave around my family and friends.


And finally…

Discipline slowly morphs into a habit…

After a few years of trying, I truly do not crave meat anymore. I think the human body is extremely adaptable but only if you put your mind to it. The challenge is to have extremely high levels of discipline in what you want to do. I think it is impossible to have such high levels of discipline in everything that one does so you have to pick what you want to achieve and work on those. After a while, vegetarinism has become a habit. Law school has also become a habit. I think the challenge to cut meat out of my diet has helped me prepare for the level of discipline required for law school. Reading cases and study units morphed into a habit after a while. During the semester break, I craved to read cases so much that I started looking up interesting cases to read about a month after the examinations. The first law school class for the new year is in about two days time. Back to normalcy…


Yours sincerely,