So I mentioned yesterday that I’m a vegetarian and don’t generally love Thanksgiving. (Thanksgiving is actually my anniversary of being a vegetarian). I thought I would give a quick lesson on vegetarianism because I feel like people ask me questions about it all the time.
Let me first say that I’m a vegetarian because I don’t like the taste and texture of meat. It doesn’t bother me at all that anyone else eats meat. I just wanted to say that I’m not writing this post to convert you to vegetarianism (ugh, I hate people like that, the more forceful they are, the more they make me want to eat chicken). My wonderful boyfriend eats meat, he has to cook it himself, but he really loves meat! And if you love meat, please continue to eat it. Biologically, we are built to eat meat – and if you love it – go for it! I just thought I would share some information that I have learned over my life about it.
My personal leanings: besides avoiding meat because I don’t like the favor and texture, I have been a vegetarian for over 20 years (since I was 9). I have never eaten a hamburger (my mother doesn’t make them). The first type of meat I gave up were hotdogs. I’ve only had one bite ever… that was enough! 🙂 Turkey was the last meat I ate, because I felt obligated to because of Thanksgiving. I am an “Ovo-Lacto Vegetarian” meaning that I eat eggs and dairy – this is the “standard vegetarian” if you will. (Note, sometimes the phrase is flipped as Lacto-Ovo). There are also plenty of people who drop one or the other (ovo or lacto) We do not eat seafood. See below.
Vegans, a more extreme version of vegetarian, do not eat the “ovo-lacto” part. They will not eat eggs or dairy. This limits a lot of baked goods for them as well as those often contain dairy. Vegans will not eat honey (it’s an animal product). Good vegans also won’t wear leather or other animal skins, furs, etc.
People who do not eat poultry or red meat, but do eat fish and other forms of seafood are known as pescetarians. I have found that the pescatarians I know call themselves vegetarians because no one knows what a pescetarian is… and no one knows it because they don’t use it, it’s a catch 22. This is personal opinion though. I have also found that most people who meet me, offer me fish when they find out I’m a vegetarian… but that doesn’t really work out. The worst place to take a vegetarian for dinner is a seafood restaurant, unlike most restaurants, seafood places have almost no vegetarian options because they think seafood works… ah well…
I have found that when it comes to being a vegetarian, everyone has their own very personal reasons (just like with people who go to church – you can’t lump everyone into one boat). Some common reasons are ethics towards the treatment of farm animals, disliking the taste and/or texture (like me) – or having a “grossed out” moment after eating bad/raw meat, meat is expensive, or an attempt to be healthy. (Note, if you’re thinking about becoming a vegetarian for health reasons, please keep in mind you have to eat healthy across the board… you can be a vegetarian and still only eat Smarties, Doritos, and Diet Coke… but it’s not actually healthy).
Tell the World!
I recently had a friend tell me that she had stopped eating meat but felt bad calling herself a vegetarian. She asked what I thought was an appropriate time line. I told her 6 months. If she hasn’t eaten meat in at least 6 months, I will totally accept her as a vegetarian, my best friend (also a vegetarian of about 20 years) agreed.
However, I do find it a little offensive when someone who ate a cheeseburger yesterday calls themselves a vegan today (a vegan lifestyle is very hard to maintain). It’s a little disrespectful to my lifestyle that they feel they can be a part of the club without paying any dues. It’s like hearing someone tell you that they are a gym bunny… after only going once. Come back to me in 6 months and tell me how many times you’ve used that gym membership since your New Year’s Resolution… I know that many people don’t see it as hurtful, but it often comes across as mocking my lifestyle if one thinks it’s so easy to emulate (personally, I find it easy… but again, that’s because I don’t love meat. I feel that if you love meat: eat it!) I’m not saying that someone shouldn’t try to be a vegetarian/vegan/pescetarian… just announce your new lifestyle slowly… when it’s actually a lifestyle and not just one lunch.
It also hurts my feelings when someone says that they were a vegetarian for years but ate meat on holidays (like they had roast beef and filet mignon… that’s kinda major). That’s like telling the world you’re a non-smoker with a cigarette in your mouth…
Also, as a vegetarian, if I’m going to a party or staying at someone’s vacation home or whatever, I feel it’s my obligation to bring food that I like. I never get mad if someone cooks eggs for me in bacon fat. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to eat it, but I’m not going to get upset that they didn’t realize. I’ll eat a muffin that I bought at Dunkin’ Donuts the day before… I always travel with food, always. I always check an online menu before going to a new restaurant with friends. I always bring something I love to a pot luck in case that’s the only thing I’m eating. As a vegetarian, I know that I’m a dietary pain in the ass for the average world and therefore it’s my responsibility to feed myself – it’s no one else’s responsibility. If someone makes food that I love: bonus! But it’s certainly not a requirement.
I hope this doesn’t come across as too negative. I always try to come across as positive in this blog and I really am positive about both my own vegetarianism and anyone else’s dietary choices (eating meat or not – whatever, that’s your lifestyle choice!). I’ve just also seen and heard a lot of silly things from well-meaning people over the years.
So yeah, that’s a basic overview of vegetarianism… peppered with a bunch of my own life experiences and beliefs. Please let me know if you have any specific questions! I’d be happy to answer anything! Or if you’re a vegetarian and you think I missed something, please chime in!