Another post taken from my other blog. After this post all of my posts will be new. :
Anyone who has been a vegetarian (or vegan) long enough to tell someone else about it knows all about the issues I’m going to bring up in this post.
It’s quite unknown to me as to why, whenever I tell someone (who is not a vegetarian) that I’m a vegetarian, that they have to automatically become defensive…and/or make quick judges about my personality, income, politics or health.
Well, I’m here to tell you that I’m neither a rich hippie (in fact, I work in retail), I don’t live on tofu and I’m not sacrificing my taste buds one tenth of a degree for the sake of my health. I also get plenty of protein, iron and b vitamins.
However, I do stand up for my beliefs. I have chosen to take flesh out of my diet for a reason (Which I addressed in the last post). If you ask me why I’m a vegetarian, I will tell you why. It is not a threat, but a mere explanation. My decision is part of who I am and influences my outlook on life and I will not soften that simply because you don’t agree with it.
*And for the record, I would like to state that if I had children (or if I have them in the future), they would be raised vegetarian.*
Getting back to the topic however, I would like to address certain stereotypes (and general pre-set notions) about vegetarians and vegans that have been worn and used so often that they really should be tossed out the window by now.
1. “If you don’t eat meat, you won’t get any protein, iron or b vitamins….” or “If you give up dairy products, you will have problems with calcium and b vitamin deficiencies.”
This is obviously very wrong. Anyone with a brain and a reasonable diet, will get most of the nutrients and vitamins that they need.
Vegetarians get protein from beans, leafy greens, dairy products and tofu/soy. Iron can be absorbed from vegetables such as spinach (and other greens) and potatoes.
Iron is best absorbed when paired with vitamin c (such as pairing spinach with citrus fruits). Potatoes contain both iron and vitamin c and are a good option, especially when combined with other iron rich foods.
Some items such as fortified cereals and milk alternatives (rice, almond, soy) often are fortified with iron as well.
Many vegetarians get b vitamins from dairy products. However, there are other sources for b vitamins such as the famous Nutritional Yeast which is often used as a substitute for cheese. Many products geared towards the vegetarian/vegan population is fortified with B-12 such as the above mentioned milk alternatives. Last but not least there is always Marmite.
So, especially for those of you who have children who want to become vegetarian or a family member of yours has made this decision…stop giving them grief! Instead, buy them some cook books and encourage them to eat wholesome, nutritious meals!
(For more information, please see the Vegetarian Resource Group site about Vegetarian nutrition.)
2. “Life’s too short, so eat meat while you can and have fun!”
This reminds me of a quote I read recently: “Life expectancy would grow by leaps and bounds if green vegetables smelled as good as bacon.” – Doug Larson
I can think of at least four sitcoms which have used this idea as a basis for a cheap plot. Just picture a male character and his significant female other, living happily in their apartment/large expensive home. Male character has a health issue that causes his significant other to be concerned for his diet. She then tries to make him go vegetarian. She serves the obligatory and disgustingly predictable Tofurkey.
Male character rebels and decides to teach his significant other a moral lesson on how life is too short to give up all of the “good things” in life (like charred flesh). Significant other finally decides that the male character must be right. She confesses, is embarrassed and serves the family a huge pork roast dinner in honor of this fact….served with a side of celery for comic relief, of course.
This, of course, is incredibly absurd. People seem to have it etched in their minds that people who give up meat are only torturing themselves and will only feel normal again when they eat a slab of bacon. This is almost on the same wavelength with the ancient idea that any woman who claims to be a lesbian is only torturing herself and can easily be swayed by “the right man”.
This idea simply should just go. I have been meat-free for ten years and have no interest in meat and find the smell of bacon to be disgusting. (I did even before my meatless diet)
3. “Vegetables are expensive, vegetarian meals are hard to prepare. Only die-hard hippies and/or rich yuppies can sustain a vegetarian lifestyle.”
This again, is very false. Vegetarian meals are easy to fix. Especially once you get the hang of it and know what dishes it is you like to fix on a regular basis.
We do cook a lot, but, we are eating healthier dishes in the process.
I’ve already done a post on how to save money on spices. Similarly, there are ways of saving money on vegetables.
Buying vegetables locally can sometimes be a way of saving a little here and there. Buying in bulk is another way.
Last but not least, some vegetables can suffice in a canned or frozen form (both of which are frequently on sale at supermarkets). Also big staples such as beans can be very cheap if bought in dry form.
Just keep in mind that you should only buy what you need. If you can not certainly say that you will use something, don’t buy it.
And above all, try to stay away from designer “vegetarian” products! Unless you REALLY need it, resist the urge. These products are often overpriced and generally made by companies who also produce meat products.
However, if you are a very new vegetarian who feels the need for a meat substitute or someone who simply can afford this type of food every day, then by all means, indulge!
OK, I think that this post is long enough for now. I hope that I have successfully targeted some of the very common issues that vegetarians seem to face almost daily.
Let’s hope that in time we can start to erase some of these preconceived notions from people’s minds.
But until then…we can still whine and complain about it.