Saturday, December 7, 2013

20 Things I Have Learned as a Vegetarian

This is going to be a photo-less post -- mostly because I don't have any photos that really fit right now and I'm too lazy this morning to remedy that.

I have been a vegetarian for over two years now and am currently transitioning into veganism.  During the last two years, I have really learned a lot.  As I work towards becoming 100% vegan, it has led me to think about some of the things I have learned.  Please keep in mind that these are things that I have learned and I am not trying to convert others.  This is a very personal decision to me.  Having said that, here we go...

1.  My body will tell me what I need if I make a habit of listening to it.  I am much more conscious of what goes into my body and, over time, that has led me to understand my cravings and know what I need to eat.  Pre-vegetarianism, I just shoveled whatever sounded pretty good into my mouth.  It has taken me over two years to get to this point.

2.  It is really easy to replace meat with cheese.  TOO easy.

3.  I am pretty quiet about my dietary choices and only discuss if asked (says the girl who is typing a whole blog post about it right now).  However, I have noticed that some people become offended by my choice to not eat meat.  Usually these are people who aren't my close friends or family.  I don't know if they automatically assume that I am judging them or if they think I am going to push my choices on them, but I have seen people become borderline defensive when I share that I'm vegetarian.  I am always surprised by this reaction.

4.  My husband and sons are super supportive and great sports.  My meat-loving husband has really come around the last two years and is willing to do meatless meals on occasion.  I love my fellas so much!

5.  I love vegetables A LOT.  My mom always had fresh fruit and vegetables in the house growing up and I am so thankful for that.  I have always liked vegetables, but preferred fruit.  Before I became vegetarian, I was not eating a lot of vegetables on a daily basis.  In the last two years, my palate has drastically changed.  Now I crave so many types of vegetables and will choose them over fruit.

6.  Vegetarianism does not automatically equal weight loss.  Refer back to Number 2.

7.  As a person living with chronic illness, I have learned that a healthy vegetarian diet does not solve my health issues.  However, it does give me more energy to get through the bad days.  When I feel ill and still eat well, I definitely get through the bad days better than if I eat poorly.

8.  Locally owned restaurants are often more vegetarian friendly than the big chain restaurants.

9.  A vegetarian diet does not have to be more expensive than an omnivore diet.  You do save money when you aren't buying expensive meats, but sometimes produce and soy products can be expensive.  If you buy seasonal produce and shop deals, a vegetarian diet is very affordable.  Also, beans and rice = cheap.

10.  Vegetarians and Vegans are not necessarily judgmental and preachy.  In fact, most of the people I have met are very compassionate, knowledgeable, and fun.  I think this assumption is what leads some people to react negatively (see Number 3).  Being vegetarian does not mean that I judge someone who eats meat or that I want to try and change them.  Just ask my husband.

11.  Factory farming in our country and the laws that are passed to help those businesses increase profits are disturbing and gross.

12.  People can be so very sweet when trying to accommodate my diet while dining at their house.  I never expect it because I know it is my choice and not their problem.  I really appreciate it though.

13.  I still can't grow any plant life.  I would love to be somewhat self sustaining, but I'm terrible at it.

14.  If considering vegetarianism or veganism, other vegetarians/vegans can be amazing and generous resources.  As I transition into veganism, I reached out to a few people for help and they stepped up in a big way.  One friend emailed me her online cookbook, one sent me links to some great vegan websites, one gave me some suggestions for books, and my sister is bringing some of her tried and true vegan cookbooks to me at Christmas.  Thank you all!

15.  My taste buds have drastically changed and I try (and love) a lot of different foods now.  I feel like I have a much broader diet now as a vegetarian than I ever did previously.  I know meat eaters can have a very broad and healthy diet too; for me, I think eliminating some foods is what helped me to open up to a bigger world of food.  My personality needs that push.

16.  Vegetarian/Vegan does not always equal healthier.  There are many vegetarian/vegan junk food junkies out there and a lot of processed foods made for vegetarians and vegans that are not always healthy.

17.  Being drawn to bright colors has made me so appreciative of a vegetarian meal.  I love to add many different vegetables because I love having a bright and colorful meal.  Even my husband (who won't eat much of what I eat), will comment on how pretty my meals look.  Eating a "pretty" meal really keeps me motivated.

18.  It is possible to stick with a change in diet (no matter what it is).  It takes some planning and discipline, but it is not that difficult.  Even when the four other people in your household don't eat the same way.  It is all about mutual respect.  I have respect for other people's food choices and they have respect for mine.

19.  People really get concerned about protein intake when I tell them I am vegetarian.  I got this covered - it's cool.

20.  It is possible to give up meat even if you liked the taste of it.  Not every vegetarian or vegan gave it up because they didn't like the taste.  Not every vegetarian or vegan gave it up for political reasons.  We are all individuals.

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