Come this August, I’ll have been a dedicated Vegetarian for 5 years. One of the most common questions I get asked by family and friends is, ‘Do you miss meat?’ My question has been from the beginning: No. And it’s 100% true – I don’t. Why not? My body feels better, for one, though I still have weight to lose to make myself healthier. I’m not clogging up arteries as much or weighing my gut down with undigested and tainted meats. I feel better emotionally, for not eating cows, goats, chickens, ducks, lambs, fish, etc…But above all, I feel more like a whole person, and that I’m making a difference in saving the lives of animals…and my children are here to see all of this.
Other questions I’ve been asked more than once:
Is being a Vegetarian hard?
Do you only eat salads?
How do you eat out?
Isn’t buying Organic more expensive?
Why are you raising your kids Vegetarian?
Do you ever ‘cheat’?
When will this diet phase end – you’ll eat meat again, won’t you?
(And my all-time favorite to hate) But, where do you get your protein?
Well, I’ll answer those for you…
- For me, no, being a Vegetarian is not hard. I made the choice for the right reasons (for animal rights, environmental reasons, and of course, my health). Any choice we make in life is easy to live with if you made it for the right reasons.
- I love salads – it’s a fantastic way to pack in a bunch of fresh veggies and fruits (as well as nuts, too!) into one dish. But no, I don’t only eat salads. A plant-based diet means you can eat any veggie, fruit, grain, legume, nut, or meat-replacement. I eat colorfully and with variety.
- I eat out like I would eat at home – with the exception that if I go somewhere new, I ask about what their foods are cooked in (lard for example, is a no-no…as are oils that have animal products in them like oyster sauce). If I eat Mexican, I usually omit the rice and beans, as often times they are cooked with chicken stock. But I have my favorite places to eat that are Vegan, like The Loving Hut.
- Yes, buying Organic CAN be more expensive…but if you find the right places to shop and take advantage of local markets, you can find great deals on organic foods.
- Some parents freak out and look at me as if I’m a monster when I explain that my son has never had meat and my daughter has been a Vegetarian for half of her life. She was 5 when I made the choice for myself, and I did ask her what she wanted to do. In all reality, if a child understood that an egg would grow up to be a baby chicken, and that their burgers from McD’s are actually made from ground up cow parts…most kids would be appalled and refuse to eat such things. Children are more compassionate and innocent than adults. My daughter made the choice herself, and she wants to be a full-blown Vegan for the rest of her life. As for my son, he was only 1yr old and didn’t have much of a choice. But he also understands it now, and doesn’t see why some kids eat chickens and turkeys and baby goats. He doesn’t ‘get it’ because he’s been raised slightly differently than most kids his age.
- I don’t ever cheat on meats, though there have been times when we were served something that had meat by accident, in which instinctively spit out (recently my hubby brought home rolled tacos stuffed with a vegetarian potato filling…and one of the rolled tacos had beef in it). There have been other times when we’ve refused to eat something simply because I didn’t know what the ingredients were. Some might find this anal – I call it being aware and conscientious of what I put in my body.
- As for my diet being a phase – it’s not. This is my lifestyle and nope, I won’t be eating meat down the road. I feel very certain and passionate about that. Once the connection is made between animal and food, I can’t go back – nor would I want to.
- Where do we get our protein? Bwahahahahahahah! Look up your favorite vegetables and fruits online some time – and you’ll see that many are PACKED with protein. I’m not kidding…having a full serving of broccoli is like having a serving of lean meat. Most of us are not raised with a nutritional degree, so this is something I had to learn myself, when making the switch to a Vegetarian lifestyle. I suggest those who truly think a Vegetarian or Vegan don’t get enough protein in their diets research the topic thoroughly. Another thing to remember is that (especially in the USA) people eat more protein than they actually need.
On top of what I put inside my body – just as important is what I put on my body. We do our best to ensure our clothing, shoes, accessories, etc…are man-made with synthetic or natural fibers. No leather. No suede. No products that are tested on animals. I keep our house clean of this stuff. I’m comfortable in my own skin – and want animals wearing theirs. And if you know anything about animal-testing, you know how awful the industry is. I don’t want any part of it. And neither do my kids. Last time I was in a particular store, we were walking through the rug section and my five-year old son noticed a cowhide hanging on display. I didn’t say anything to him about what it was, other than to honestly answer his question of ‘Is that real cow fur, mommy?’ He was appalled and confused that someone would want cow skin as a rug in their home.I don’t lie to my kids about the world. I protect them from the worst parts, but I also want them to know the truth about it when they do ask.
Is it really wrong for my son to grow up respecting animals and their right to live beside us without fear of being tortured, eaten, or skinned alive?
Is it really wrong for my children to look at me as an adult who has compassion for animals that suffer and die at the hands of humans?
Is it really wrong for people to know more about what they eat and what they wear, and the truth about what the process entails?
My answer to those three questions is a big and fat NO. It’s not wrong. It’s about awareness. That’s what it is. Be aware of what you eat, of where it came from and the process it took to get to you. Be it meats, dairy, vegetables or fruits. I just ask for people to open their eyes…and see.
I don’t want people to see me as a hippie freak – I want them to see why I’m proud of being a Vegetarian.