Having been a Vegetarian my whole life and recently made the transition to Vegan, I know a thing or two about being veg. I do admit that I have tried meat in very small portions due to peer pressures when I was younger however I am adamantly devoted to a life of being veg for own reasons.
There are literally countless articles that promote Veganism/Vegetarianism (for convenience I will use ‘Veg’ to refer to both Veganism and Vegetarianism) however I will give you a basic overview and some handy tips to take that brave step to living a greener life.
Not Enough Protein, Calcium and Iron
I would say I am living proof that being Veg doesn’t mean anorexia or malnourishment. I am a healthy 77 kilograms and 183 cm tall with good muscle definition. When I was young, people would often comment ‘how come you are so big?’ after learning that I am Veg. It’s definitely a fallacy that vegans and vegetarians don’t get enough nutrients and are destined for a life of smaller physique. Interestingly enough, I have a whole bunch of vegan body builder friends who make the typical omnivore look bulimic and unfit for life. Jim Morris is an inspiring example of a 78 year old body builder turned vegan who has continued to maintain his health and physique after the transition, where most 70 year old's will be In a wheelchair he will be in gym working out!
Food is bland in taste
Now that is just an excuse, there are plenty of delicious veg recipes out there that are to die for. Every now and then I would take my friends to a veg restaurant and they would be surprised as to how amazing the meals can be not to mention healthy. It all comes down to your creativity with any meal, even pure carnivorous meals may lack taste if they aren’t garnished well.
It's Expensive and Lack Options
I disagree with Veg meals being expensive as it really depends on the restaurant itself, and in most cases the veg options are usually far cheaper due to the cost of the procured ingredients. On the other hand, options are usually limited in most places due to a lack of demand for Veg meals however there seems to be more and more restaurants and shops that have a separate Veg menu.
Reasons to go Veg
Most vegans and vegetarians go green for lifestyle/ethical reasons rather than dietary and healthy considerations. Here are some reasons (if you aren’t already convinced) to go green!
Most Vegs believe that killing/harvesting an animal for consumption is unethical/immoral and that is usually a powerful enough reason to go veg. Given that human beings slaughter close to 60 Billion livestock a year should give you an idea of our devastating consumption patterns and how much death and suffering is involved just to keep our bellies full. There have been countless instances of abuse and horrendous treatment of animals that could turn most people into vegs after watching even one of the thousands of videos that expose what goes on behind closed doors. I have personally seen videos that would turn my stomach inside out and make my blood boil with anger at the way animals are treated and slaughtered, hence I am a passionate advocate for being veg.
It’s about being aware of how our food is procured not just being blindly guided by the corporations who control the supply and the way we consume.
Consuming a balanced plant based diet is one sure way to dramatically improve your health without supplementing it with meat and seafood. It is well known that consuming vegetables and fruits are extremely beneficial to our health and protect us against chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer, however what about meat? There has been many proven links to cancer (and other diseases) with the consumption of meat due to the way it is processed and harvested. A fantastic documentary that gives an in-depth view of modern day ‘farming’ methods is Food Inc. Goes behind closed doors to expose how traditional farming methods have transitioned to factory farming due to skyrocketing demands from consumers.
Then there are those who are genetically predisposed to certain intolerances that cause them to reject certain foods, this is the case of lactose intolerance, red meat allergies etc.
Religion and Spirituality
Religion and Spirituality
Some religions out there that forbid the consumption of (certain) animals (Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism) and this may be a great reason to go green on itself. For those more spiritual beings out there who are seeking enlightenment Veganism/Vegetarianism is a great way to become more awakened and at peace with oneself. The primary essence of being awakened is to find that inner peace within one self and to feel better about oneself as an individual on this Earth absent of inflicting death and suffering.
Tips for Transitioning to Veg
Like all great changes it requires commitment and consistency. Taking small steps is towards being Veg is key. Most people that go ‘cold-turkey’ will usually revert back to their omnivore habits given the intensity of such a sudden change, challenging yet not impossible. For a more consistent and long-term approach, try phasing out 1 or 2 meat meals and replace them as Veg meals in the first week or two, as you get more comfortable with the idea of consuming pure Veg meals increase it to 3-5 meals a week, increasing the frequency of Veg meals as you progress over time. The idea behind gradual transitioning is to get your body and mind used to the idea and feeling of consuming pure Veg meals. With time and commitment (to your reason for being Veg) you will eventually be weaned off meat without any withdrawal symptoms or cravings.
An interesting alternative and novel way of consuming non-meat meals is mock meats. Mock meats are essentially soy based products that mimic common meat products that are completely free from meat ingredients. Practically anything from ribs, chicken wings, to fish can be substituted with a mock meat alternative. The ingredients are usually high in protein and low in saturated fats whilst being healthier and cheaper than its counterpart meat products. Now what about the taste and texture? Although I am a Veg myself, my omnivore friends whom have tried mock meats can attest that it is almost a complete substitute to meat products despite its taste varying moderately from traditional meats. The texture and presentation is nearly identical as to the point you could question whether it is actually meat or not.
The great thing about being Veg is that it challenges you to find more variety in your diet since a large staple (Chicken, beef, pork etc.) is taken out of the equation you will need to replace that with more creative and interesting ways to fill your belly up. There are literally millions of online Veg recipes out there, Vegweb.com is a great resource for Veg recipes, besides that you can always search up a Veg recipe easily.
The variety will ensure you get all your essential nutrients and more. For those with health issues may require supplementation (consult your doctor or dietician for more information) however for those worried about not getting enough vitamins and minerals a good multivitamin will do the job coupled with a balanced and varied Veg diet.
Make a list of Veg Friendly Restaurants/Shops
If you are going to go green and take this Veg philosophy seriously, you will need to research or find places that offer Veg options or even better are completely Veg, i.e. Veg Restaurant. Without these sources it will be easy to slip back into old habits and patronizing your favorite non-Veg places. I recommend doing some online research to familiarize yourself with these Veg friendly places so that if you do hungry you will know where to turn.
There will be times when you won’t know where to go for a Veg meal, thankfully most restaurants now cater for Vegetarians (depends on which country you are in!) so there will be often a Veg option or you can always ask for the meat to be taken out. I am always super excited when there are a few Veg options and that makes me appreciate food more!
Surround Yourself With Vegs
I am personally not discriminant about who I go out to eat with since I have been Veg my whole life. I know it can be an inconvenience at times to have people cater for you when selecting a restaurant, however it’s about sticking to your principles rather than succumbing to the crowd. My whole family is Veg so there is no issue there however having a few Veg friends is gives me a high when I go out to eat, it’s like you are best friends united by common values, it makes everything easier and more enjoyable because you can go to a pure Veg restaurant without feeling bad about dragging all your omnivore friends. Your healthy lifestyle and strong (non-preaching) values might even convert your friends to Vegs or at least be a positive influence on their lives. Having Veg friends aren’t exactly something you can happen overnight, so just get more into the Veg lifestyle and Vegs will naturally gravitate towards you because of common values. In my experience you get a varied and interesting bunch of people who become Veg for a variety of reasons nevertheless they are passionate about their cause and usually quite easy-going people!
Here are just some famous people that are Veg
- Natalie Portman (Actor)
- Joaquin Phoenix (Actor)
- John McCartney (Singer)
- Mahatma Gandhi (Politician, Pacifist)
- Leonardo da Vinci (Painter, Engineer, Architect)
- Albert Einstein (Scientist)
- Sir Isaac Newton (Scientist)
Being Veg is definitely a challenge, there will be times when it causes so much inconvenience that your friends might even resent you (jokingly of course) however stay strong and committed and your friends will respect your integrity and fortitude, they may even adopt your values because you are such a positive influence in their life.
It takes a lot of discipline especially if you have been conditioned your whole life to be an omnivore but just remember that there are phenomenal benefits of being Veg that you will notice almost instantly. Talking with people who have tried Veg diets for a few weeks to months have all proclaimed that they felt amazing and full of life as a result of the Veg diet. With the added benefits of an abundance of nutrients and anti-oxidants found in a plant-based diet your body will thank you for it in the coming years. I have seen many Vegs who are in their 50-70s look like in their 30-40s and feel like their 20s, after all we are what we eat. Life is all about habit and we all know bad habits die hard, so fill your life with good habits such as being Veg and you will notice a strong positive change in the quality of your life. Stay strong and remember the reasons why you want to be Veg, there is more to life than merely satisfying your taste buds.
On that note, I wish you the best on this challenging yet rewarding journey.