That’s right, reader! It’s the triumphant return of Not Just a Phase, where friends share their stories of choosing a vegetarian lifestyle. Deciding to go totally animal-free is a big deal, especially if you, like many of us, grew up eating and wearing animals without giving any of it much thought. Finally taking the initiative to make such a significant change—whether for moral or health reason—can be a highly personal and empowering choice. Which is why we ask all of friends who have made such a move to write us with their individual stories. If you’d like to share yours with us, send it, and any fun, related pics, to us at

Without further ado, here’s our friend Jeff’s story.

I stopped eating meat 20 years ago this summer, after reading the lyrics to a song that my favorite band wrote on the topic. The band was Youth of Today and the song was called “No More” (listen to it here). YOT was a hardcore (punk) band, which meant loud, fast, choppy songs and vocals that were more snarled than sung, but it was music to my high school sophomore ears (and still is).

I was extremely quiet and rarely spoke up for myself, and their songs about taking a stand and fighting back against the world, yet living compassionately resonated deeply within me. I became a vegetarian at first because it was something my punk rock idols endorsed, but in this case, it was the right thing to do even if the reason wasn’t so solid.

In the years since, of course, I’ve learned much more about countless reasons to be a vegetarian or vegan—from ethical to environmental to health and well-being and on to spirituality, but I’ll always be grateful for YOT and that initial exposure.

As people trying to live compassionately I think sometimes we (myself included) get a little full of ourselves and become proud about what’s really a very selfless choice. I had already been a vegetarian for years, probably 10 or more, before I made the connection that choosing to eat compassionately is just one step toward cultivating essential qualities like humility, tolerance and kindness—qualities that to the extent we live without, we never really become whole.

Living and growing this way has helped me see beauty in things I hardly noticed before, and for that, even on a bad day, I’m thankful.

Jeffrey Simms
Above, Jeff and a good friend. Have a great weekend, reader!