In the six or so years that I’ve been vegetarian I’ve received so many questions on the topic. I’ve also been discussing this with a good friend who is interested in eating healthier and incorporating some new foods into her diet. First the Q & A, then I’ll share my favorite vegetarian recipe in my next post!
Q. What do you eat?
A. I get this pretty frequently, which is understandable. Everyone’s dietary restrictions are different and I don’t blame them for asking either out of necessity or curiosity.
Before I talk about what I eat, I do NOT eat any form of meat. This includes the flesh, fat, or stock made from beef, poultry, pork, fish or other seafoods. I am a Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian, which I will explain next.
Quick Lesson of Types of Vegetarians:
• A pescetarian doesn’t eat mean with the exception of fish.
• A flexitarian or semi-vegetarian is someone who eats a mainly vegetarian diet, but occasionally eats meat.
• A Lacto-ovo Vegetarian doesn’t eat meat, but does include eggs and dairy products in their diet.
• A Lacto Vegetarian eats dairy, but not eggs.
• An Ovo Vegetarian eats eggs, but not dairy.
• A Vegan is someone who doesn’t eat any meat, eggs, dairy, or animal-derived ingredients (like gelatin). Some do not consume honey.
Q. Why are you a vegetarian?
A. This is as simple as I just don’t like the taste. Many people think I’m crazy when I tell them that, but it is the truth. Sure there are certain kinds of meat that I enjoyed, but I don’t miss them. There are so many great vegetarian dishes and substitutes now compared to when I first became vegetarian. Even though it started as me being a picky eater, my reasons began to include ethical issues like animal cruelty and the environment.
Q. How do you survive meat-centered family functions?
A. The two things that come to mind are cookouts in the heat of summer and Thanksgiving dinner with everyone gathered around a juicy turkey. Doesn’t really sound like a good time for vegetarians… For cookouts there are so many varieties of veggie burgers or you can try a grilled vegetable sandwich! Morningstar Farms used to make a veggie Italian sausage alternative which was my go-to for tailgating at the Brewer game, but sadly it was discontinued. As for Thanksgiving, when I go to my aunt and uncle’s house there are so many dishes to choose from like sweet potatoes, butternut squash, mashed potatoes, cooked vegetables, dinner rolls, coleslaw, and much more that I’m always lounging on the couch later because I’m so stuffed! If it is a concern for you that there won’t be any vegetarian fare at your relative’s house, just ask if you can bring a dish to pass!
Q. What did your family think at first?
A.My mom was the most shaken at my decision. She is a very good cook and I appreciate that, but I think she was offended when I didn’t want to eat whatever meat she cooked for our family. It was nothing against her, but for her cooking is personal. For a while I just choked down what she made, but after a while I just did not want to eat meat anymore. I did what many new vegetarians did – I just ate the vegetables and potatoes, skipping over the meat without adding a protein. Hint: That’s not how you eat a balanced diet. She kept telling me to just get over it and that it was just a stupid phase, but I kept on with my opposition to meat.
You can’t let people you love determine your food choices and life decisions. Don’t let them deter you from why you decided to be a vegetarian. When people don’t understand your lifestyle, they might make fun of it or tease you.
Q. What do you eat at restaurants? How difficult is it to find vegetarian options?
A. It really depends what kind of restaurant it is… If you go to a steakhouse, then I wouldn’t really expect tons of options, but there is still a chance. I actually went with Brian to a steakhouse which is famous for its prime rib… sounds like I had zero options, right? That’s what I was expecting too. If you are ever in this situation where all of the main dishes are steak or similar fare, just look at the appetizer section! The restaurant we went to had haystack onions and breaded and fried vegetables! Plus there was a salad, which is always a safe bet, just be sure there’s no bacon on it! I ended up feasting on the appetizers, had a salad and then a side of buttered fettucini all at a steakhouse! For the record, we went there because we had a gift certificate from Brian’s uncle, otherwise Brian knows better than to take me to a steakhouse.
I am so surprised and pleased lately at the new options I’m finding at restaurants… I just went to Red Robin with Brian and our friend Cory last night after being told that they have veggie burgers now. I am sooooo glad I did because it was so delicious. Even places like Buffalo Wild Wings and Denny’s now have build your own burger menus with the option of a veggie burger or black bean burger! I am so happy about that because I used to get appetizers at those restaurants. While there’s nothing wrong with eating fries occasionally at a restaurant, it gets pretty old if that is your only option.
I will leave part one here since there are still a few more questions to be answered! If you have any questions about the above feel free to ask and I will address it in part two!
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or dietician. This is my own experience with vegetarianism. Please consult your doctor before beginning a new diet.