I’ve been vegetarian since I was seven years old. Now 21, I’m starting to sound like a broken record when it comes to describing my dietary preferences. And, no, I’m not one of those ‘holier than thou’ vegan. Here’s the soundtrack one more time: I became vegetarian when I was a seven-year-old oblivious chicken nugget loving child. I read a stop sign that had a sticker labeled ‘eating animals’ to make the sign read: ‘stop eating animals.’ I was appalled.
“Mom, what’s that mean?” I asked.
She described to me that the source of my favorite food, the only food I would willingly eat without objection came from the cute little animals on the barnyard or something along those lines.
I gasped and vowed to never eat meat again.
That’s all there is to it. I don’t care if you choose to, your second cousin chooses to, or so forth. That’s why it’s a choice. It’s personal. In a perfect world, you mind your own, and I’ll mind mine.
But, understandably, people have questions. They always do.
1. Where do you get your protein? Tofu, grains, greens, oats, milk, beans, etc.
2. So, what can you eat? – Fruits, vegetables, oats, grains, legumes, nuts/seeds, and surprisingly, some of your favorite comfort foods are vegan. (See: oreos)
3. Don’t you get bored of just eating salad all of the time?– Never. There are so many variations of what your diet consists. You can switch it up by adding different grains or proteins. Add sweet potatoes, quinoa or rice for your carb and add tofu, tempeh or beans for your protein.
4. But, what about protein?– If you’re really in a bind, there are additional sources for plant-based protein in the form of powder, shakes, or bars.
5. I could never be vegan, I love bacon (cheese/eggs/chicken,etc.) too much- Fair enough. For me, giving up cheese, eggs, and the chicken was the hardest part because these were huge staples in my diet. Fortunately, there are great tasting vegan alternatives, which also taste fairly similar, and sometimes better than the real thing.
6. Why would you do that to yourself? – Because I want to take care of my body and I feel best when I am eating whole foods.
7. Oh, that’s so LA– Valid point, maybe.
8. How do you go out to eat?– When I first started eliminating meat from my diet, it was slightly difficult to go out to eat. Now, many restaurants offer vegetarian/vegan options on the regular menu. If not, they are happy to make substitutions. Just ask for your meal with no cheese/meat.
9. What made you go vegan? Is your mom/dad/sister/brother/grandma vegan, or is it just you?- This is probably the second most asked question, next to protein. Diet is a personal choice and preference. No, my mom and dad aren’t vegan. They don’t care to be, nor do I care that they aren’t. They have what works for them and makes them feel best, and I have what works for me.
10. Isn’t it so expensive?– It can be, depending on what you buy. Pre-packaged vegan options like the meat alternatives and pre-made veggie burgers tend to be on the pricier side. But buying seasonal fruits and vegetables from the market, or purchasing grains and beans in bulk cut the price down significantly.
11. ‘I’m a man,’ I need meat at least once a week- Typically I just dismiss this one. Politely shake your head and walk away.
12. Well, what about protein? How do you expect to build muscle? We need a lot less protein than people were led to believe, which is about .36 grams per pound, which is about 46-56 grams each day.
13. If you love animals so much, why do you eat their food? : obnoxious giggle: – See above: shake head, and walk away.
14. Will you get offended if I eat meat in front of you?– No, so I would appreciate it if you didn’t get offended because I don’t eat meat in front of you. Diet is a personal preference.
15. Almond milk/ vegan cheese/ other vegan alternative is ~disgusting~- Have you tried it? If not, would you be willing to? It’s an acquired taste and tastes fairly similar to the real thing if you give it a chance.