Thursday, March 21, 2013

Vegetarian Life

If you know me.. :D
  I have been what most consider a vegetarian for about 8 and a half years now.  I first stopped eating meat when I was about 12 or 13 years old and I have been living just fine ;)  Well I get an awful lot of questions whenever it's mentioned that I don't eat meat.  Over the years, I've gotten used to it and I have developed my answers.  So below, I have listed the top ten questions and answers I have gotten throughout the years.  Maybe some of these have been your questions, maybe these questions you've wanted to ask a veggie-eater but never felt like you could.  I cannot speak for my fellow counterparts on each of these questions, but I can speak for myself  ;) Prepared to be educated!

10. Do you ever miss eating meat?

  Sometimes, I'll get a slight craving for (get this) a coney dog with chili from Sonic.  I have no clue why, and it only happens every year or two.  But out of no where I'll suddenly want one.  Otherwise, since I've been weened off of meat for so long, my body never craves it.  Usually if I do start to want meat (which is truly rare) it's because my body is lacking protein.  In those cases, I'll eat something with a good source of protein and B vitamins and the craving goes away.  See, usually when we crave something, it's not the actual food we crave, it's the nutrients and vitamins that food contains, and our bodies know it.  So no, I don't ever actually miss eating meat.

9. Do you like PETA? 

No.  PETA makes absolutely no sense and actually embarrasses the real vegan and vegetarian community.  Ain't no way animals at Sea World would survive in the wild if they were released - they would die.  And ain't no way anyone is going to start mass producing human female breast milk to 'save the cows' - if you don't milk cows multiple times a day, they will die.  I don't see what PETA doesn't understand about real health concerns for animals.  Not to mention, they euthanize cats and dogs every day because they 'can't find homes' - but I thought cats and dogs were supposed to be wild, not domesticated? Isn't that what you said PETA? Some PETA members even have pets but of course they're considered 'companions'... even though they keep their 'companions' on leashes.  What a contradiction, I'm sure there's a reasonable explanation for it.  But there isn't.

8. Is vegetarian the same thing as vegan?

Nope.  There are three kinds of vegetarianism, and then there's vegan.  Vegetarian one: Lacto-ovo - eats no meat or fish, but eats dairy products and poultry products (eggs).  Vegetarian two: Lacto vegetarian - doesn't eat meat or fish, eats dairy products, but does not eat eggs or anything with eggs in it.  Vegetarian three: Ovo vegetarian - doesn't eat meat, fish, or dairy, but eats eggs.  Vegan - doesn't eat meat, fish, eggs, or dairy.

7. Do vegetarians eat fish?

Vegetarians do not eat fish.  If you talk to a 'vegetarian' who eats fish claiming that we do, they're wrong.  'Vegetarians' who eat fish are called Piscatarians.  They are not 'pisca-vegetarians' they are piscatarians.  They do not eat meat, have the option to eat eggs and/or dairy, but they eat fish.  Since fish are living creatures with a blood-flow and has a mouth to eat things (unlike plants, etc.) they are considered animals.  Vegetarians do not eat fish.

6. How can you be living?

Oh my goodness, I hate this question.  While often said jokingly, it's actually a bit offensive.  We still live without meat - IT IS POSSIBLE.  And to ask such an ignorant question is annoying.  There are multiple places to get protein other than meat.  In fact, if a person eats more than 14 oz. of meat a week their entire lives, they are four times as likely to experience dimensia such as Alzheimer's as they get older.  Why? Because meat proteins are so similar to our own proteins, the older we get the weaker our immune systems become and eventually begin to see the meat protein as the same as our own.  When this happens, we become autoimmune and our body begins to attack itself.  So I am still living just fine without meat in my system.

5. Is it healthier to be a vegetarian than it is to eat a meat-inclusive diet?

If a vegetarian and a meat-inclusive person keeps their levels of nutrients and vitamins in check, they are just as healthy as the other.  However, the benefits of not eating meat is that the toxins and hormones animals produce do not mix with our own.  Also, since most meat-eating people do not keep a balance of their protein intake, vegetarians tend to be slightly healthier than those who include a lot of meat in their diet.  Protein is  important, don't get me wrong.  But too much of a good thing is still bad for you.  As I stated before, though, if both the vegetarian and the meat-eating person is balancing their intake, they are just as healthy as the other.

4. Do you eat animal crackers?

Yes. I shouldn't have to explain.  But you would be surprised how regular this question is.

3. Was it hard to give up meat? Or more ridiculously: How can you live without [particular kind of meat]?

It is possible to live without meat... One of the most stated comments upon learning about my vegetarian lifestyle goes something like this:

  "I could NEVER be a vegetarian; I love [chicken, steak, other meat] too much."

The second most common response:

  "I could be a vegetarian; it would take some time, but I could live without meat."

To the second response: I applaud you for your willingness even if you never actually give up meat.  Being a vegetarian really isn't that hard.  At first you learn to adjust to having meals exactly the same only with the meat in it: spaghetti and sauce without ground beef, for example.  Without it there, you hardly notice the difference.  Especially since only a fifth of our diet is supposed to be protein or meat related, it shouldn't be too difficult to actually replace meat with protein substance.  I had no real problem giving up meat when I did, in fact I would have let it go sooner had it not been for my mom! (that's not bitterness ;) )

2. Where do you get your protein from?

The obvious source of protein comes from tofu.  Tofu alone tastes pretty gross, I admit it.  But never eat it alone unless you actually like it that way.  Because tofu is a spongy substance, it soaks up whatever food it is surrounded by.  When cooking with tofu, grill it/broil it/cook it/fry it in seasonings you like or in olive oil, terryaki sauce, soy sauce, whatever you like and it will taste pretty good.  Other than that, peanut butter, nuts and legumes, eggs, and even milk can produce the right amount of protein and protein supplements that we need daily.  Protein is crucial to development, but you really don't need that much on a daily basis, so it's not hard meeting that need.  The two vitamins that are important to look for in protein supplements are vitamins B12 and B6.  As long as you have at least 12 grams of protein and/or protein supplements (B vitamins) you should be okay.

1. Why did you become a vegetarian?

I became a vegetarian simply because I did not like meat.  That's it; nothing about animal rights and whatnot. Growing up, I only really liked hot dogs and Italian meats (salami, pepperoni, etc.) Again, I have no clue why.  I hated chicken, I couldn't stand anything from a cow or a pig, it was simply all repulsive to me.  I hardly liked the meats I actually liked to.  I only ate hot dogs and Italian meats because I was made to.  I simply did not like meat - it's smell, it's taste, it's texture, nothing about it made me want it.  Many vegetarians go for the whole animal rights thing, and that's fine and all - I don't really agree with it: just because you don't eat it doesn't mean that it won't be killed and eaten anyways.  Supply and demand for meat goes up every day and one person not eating it does not stop this demand or even slow it down.  It ultimately doesn't matter in the end for those vegetarians because the ones who give up meat for animal rights are the ones most likely to eat meat again :P

So these are personal facts as well as some real facts about living a vegetarian lifestyle.  Of course, if you have any questions about it, I would love to answer them for you because there are so many other questions I get.  Again, I can't speak for my fellow vegetarians, but I can speak for myself, so these answers may or may not suit those you know who also do not eat meat, but I'm sure you could ask them for opinions on the matters I discussed.  The answers I gave for numbers 2, 5, 7, and 8 are factual and support for my answers can be found on the websites listed below.

Vegetarian Society
North American Vegetarian Society
Vegetarian Times Magazine
The Vegetarian Resource Group
Becoming a Vegetarian - Teens Health
Vegetarian Benefits

If you have ever considered becoming a vegetarian or are interested in trying it out - it's not as hard as you think.  Keep track of what you eat and everything will be fine.  You don't have to keep a written account of your food (I don't) but remembering how much of your food makes your body strong and healthy is very important.  Don't quit it too quickly, but 'ween' off of it, letting go of one meat at a time over a period of time.  To eat it again, do the same thing only adding one meat at a time in small amounts.  When you give it up, you will probably lose weight and you will feel more energetic (if you are eating correctly without meat in your diet).  I promise it's not really that bad.  Most importantly, know whether it is something you really want to do; if you really don't want to do it, you will have a harder time with it.

Happy blogging!

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