Welcome to my Vegetarian’s Guide. It is great if you want to become a vegetarian and I applaud your reasons for doing it. I did not choose this lifestyle as I was raised this way, but I definitely have some issues with harming animals for food, the way they are treated, and the entire industry of meat procurement. I like all things fuzzy and fluffy and as such, cows to me are simply vehicles for cute and velvety noses.
When becoming a vegetarian
The first thing it is important to note is to not be a jerk about it. There are enough of us out there screaming “Meat is murder!” to cover that genre. You have your reasons for making this lifestyle choice and they are yours alone. Be happy with your choice, but don’t take it out on the people around you. Under this heading is eating in restaurants. Understand that most restaurants will have one or two vegetarian items on their menu and you are stuck with that. Quickly scan the menu for something edible and make a choice. If there is nothing, simply say to the server that you would like a vegetarian meal and any other specifications (for me it is “no mushrooms or goat cheese”) and then wait for your surprise meal. Some will be great and some not so great, but, again, this is your choice and they are trying their best. Understand that most things contain hidden meat… salad dressings (anchovies), pasta dishes (chicken stock), spinach dip (crab or bacon), etc. If you really care about trace amounts of meat in your food, know the tricks and ask before you eat. I care, so I ask.
Don’t get baited by the “carnivores”.
Anyone who believes that they are a meat-eating “ambassador” will tell you what you are missing and how crazy you are. Take it in stride and move on at Vegetarian’s Guide. They have their beliefs and you have yours. Arguing with these people is an exercise in futility and should not be entertained. Again this is your life and your choice. It is founded in a good place so debating with others is like arguing with somebody who does not speak your language.
Stop calling yourself a vegetarian if you still eat chicken and fish. Tell it like it is. I don’t eat red meat. That is fine, but don’t pretend to be a vegetarian while eating meat. Period.
The most common concern with being a vegetarian from a diet perspective is protein. This is actually blown way out of proportion; there are many ways to get enough protein and most meat eaters eat 2 – 4 times the amount of protein they need. Primary ways to get good quality protein in your diet include but are not limited to: beans, brown rice, lentils, chickpeas, quinoa, and nuts. There are also trace amounts of proteins in countless other foods. It is important to note that most vegetarian “converts” simply eat a meat-eaters diet without the meat. This is not the way to eat healthily. You must have a protein source in your meals. Pasta alone does not a protein make!
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Vegetarian’s Guide: The real issue with being a vegetarian is Omega 3 and vitamin B12.
Omegas are quite easy to get in food, but B12 can be difficult and a supplement is recommended. This should be either an injection (the cleanest and easiest way) or an oral supplement that contains methylcobalamin (best form of B12). These typically are sub-lingual (dissolves under the tongue) and, if taken on an empty stomach, can make you have an upset stomach. In my opinion, B12 injections are the way to go, but not everyone is cool with needles! The single best vegetarian source of omegas is avocado. Most healthy vegetarians are consuming a few avocadoes a week in salads, guacamole, on sandwiches, or just plain. If you don’t like avocado, get a good Omega supplement. Make sure it is not from a fish source, but, not to worry, there are many vegetarian versions to choose from.
I have been a vegetarian my whole life.
34 years of not eating meat and I am healthy and happy. I get told on a regular basis that “you don’t look like a vegetarian”… sigh. I work out almost every day and lead a very active and healthy lifestyle. I do my best to eat whole meals and eat cleanly, but being a vegetarian in the western world is work. It is important to understand that making this choice is a luxury. You should not do it on a whim and it should not be done without some pre-calculation of the trials and hurdles involved.
The above is not an all-inclusive Vegetarian’s Guide to being a vegetarian, but it is a good place to start. Don’t be a jerk, understand the world is not geared around your choice, don’t react when harassed about your choice, understand what a vegetarian actually is, get your Omegas and B12.