Saturday, 11 March 2017

7 and a Half Things to Expect When You're a Vegetarian

Hello there! It's been a terribly long time since I've written a blog post, but as the tidal wave that is the second year of university begins to dissipate, I thought I would flex my blogging muscles and write something new - if anyone still remembers this blog is here, or by some miracle finds it.

I've been a vegetarian since I was 13, perhaps 14, so over the years I've had a few different responses to my choice, naturally. But this isn't about why I made the choice to stop eating meat - I'm not here to patronise or lecture - it's about what happens when you do.

Here are 7 and a half things to expect when you decide to become a vegetarian.

1. "But you're meant to eat meat."

Often accompanied with a pseudo-scientific explanation as to why. My favourite was, "Smile! Look, you have canine teeth! You're supposed to chew meat!" Not an unfair assumption, and one still held by many, but really, a bit of an incorrect one, though I digress.

Other possibilities include: something about evolution, brain size, intestines, etc..

2. "Do you eat...?" 

a) cheese
b) milk
c) eggs
d) fish
e) ... chicken?

To which, as a point of interest, the answers are: yes, yes, yes, no, no.

Essentially, prepare to receive a lot of questions about your diet, very often while you're actually in the middle of a meal.

3. False Concern

"Are you getting enough protein? What about vitamins, are you getting all your vitamins?"

Vegetarians often eat more protein and get more vitamins than meat eaters, so I'm going to give you a fairly certain yes.

4. "But... bacon!" 

Yes, I've tried it. No, I don't miss it. No, it won't convert me. Yes, I've had it cooked properly before.

5. The More Cautious Than You Omnivore 

I wasn't sure how to succinctly describe this one, but essentially it's the friend, family member, or (as in my case) partner who is more conscious of checking that the food you're about to eat has those three important words emblazoned on the packaging, 'Suitable for vegetarians.'

In fact, my boyfriend once prevented me from placing a chorizo flavoured crisp in my mouth when I was meeting his family for the first time and had been so muddled up in nerves that it didn't even occur to me that I was maybe about to eat something that would make me feel guilty later. What a hero.

6. Feeling Inferior to Vegans 

Being a vegetarian isn't about feeling better than those who eat meat - if it is, you're doing it wrong. But when you've made the effort to change your diet for a cause you're passionate about, meeting someone who has made an even bigger effort is, well, a little demoralising.

I actually tried veganism for a while; I bought vitamin supplements, I ate tasteless, rubbery cheese, I poured soy milk into my coffee and watched it separate, I reminisced over milk, and felt a little pang when I realised the dark chocolate I was looking at contained lactose. And after less than a month, I realised this really wasn't for me. Kudos to vegans for doing all of those things and not losing hope, but it just wasn't a lifestyle I could keep up.

6.5. Rolling your eyes at pescatarians

Or at least, those who claim to be vegetarian only to reveal later that they eat fish. Goodness.

7. Amazing Food

The biggest and best thing I've noticed after all these years has been how, because you're a vegetarian, you actually get to enjoy some great food. Taking away the reliance on meat products to create a filling, enjoyable meal leads to a lot of creativity, whether that be your own, or the creativity of the person making food for you, a family member, a friend, or even a restaurant. Vegetarian meals are so colourful and diverse and delicious.
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