Coming up toward the end of October marks my two-year anniversary of becoming a vegetarian and giving up meat products for good. This change in my life happened back during my senior year of high school where I decided I needed to change. Acne covered my chin and forehead, I constantly felt tired or drowsy, and the constant feeling of what I can describe as "bleh" took over my life. But over the past two years of transitioning meat and other animal products out of my life, I found that these issues gradually became controllable and I am happier than ever.
As much I loved my new lifestyle of living mostly animal product free, others were not too excited to see me do such a "radical" change. But thanks to the internet and my other vegetarian friends, I have found my experiences are nearly identical to other vegetarians and some vegans. Often we'd get similar questions from non-vegetarians on our moral, ethical, and health beliefs over and over again to the point where we are tired of the repetitiveness. So here are ten things that I've been told throughout the past two years as a vegetarian:
1. So, where do you get your protein/iron/calcium/B12/etc.?
There are a wide variety of plant-based proteins that make up the same or even more amounts of protein than meat sources: beans, lentils, spinach, chickpeas, etc. Same goes for other vitamins. Fruits and vegetables as well as whole grains hold a lot of vitamins and minerals necessary for our overall health. If there may be a lack in some of these areas, nothing like a good-ol' vitamin (or vitamins) won't help.
2. Are you one of those mean animal rights activists?
Of course I love and respect the life of animals, but just because I don't eat meat doesn't mean I'm heavily involved in the meatless movement. And no, I do not plan shove my beliefs of vegetarianism down your throat with tofu.
3. Is it all right to eat my [animal product here] in front of you or will you get offended?
Go for it. It's your life and your choices, not mine.
4. Are you on some sort of health-kick or diet?
Just because someone is vegetarian does not primarily mean they eat healthy. Cheese pizza, French fries and ice cream is sometimes way too hard to give up.
5. But don't you ever miss the taste of meat?
Meat isn't the only food on the planet. There are different types of foods from all around the world that don't contain meat and are probably as equally tasty.
6. *Goes to a restaurant with friends* Are you sure you can eat something here?
Lots of restaurants have vegetarian options either on the menu or you can simply ask for the meat to be left out (if possible). When it doubt: order sides.
7. Oh, so you only eat sad salads?
Refer back to #6. Both eating out and dining at home has a ton of different perks. Especially Qdoba and Chipotle. Buzzfeed pretty much sums up my point for this one: Burrito bowls are bomb.
8. If you were stranded on a desert island and the only thing to eat was a juicy steak, would you eat it or starve?
I find this a mildly unrealistic question - when exactly would I find myself stranded alone on a desert island? Um, I don't know? Whatever I would do to survive ?
9. So can you eat [obvious animal product]?
Although there are a variety of vegetarians that may eat some animal meats such as pescatarians (vegetarians who still eat fish), most of the time the answer is no.
This choice to go vegetarian was what was best for me. I wasn't forced by anyone and I didn't want to follow a "diet fad." In the end, it was my own personal decision and that's all that matters.