I have been an ovo-lacto-vegetarian for about six years now. I don’t eat meat, and lately, I have been cutting back on my dairy intake. When I first told my friends and family, who live in and around vast fields of corn and cows, that I decided to become a vegetarian, I got the exact reaction that I had expected.
“Wait, what? Why would you want to give up meat? Don’t you wish to support the meat industry?” A friend said referring to the farms around town that raised animals for slaughter.
“Wait, can you eat fish? No? How about chicken?” a puzzled look crept up on one of my friends’ mom’s face. “Oh—okay—well good luck with that.”
And here’s my favorite, “I think you’re going to die on that diet. How are you going to get your protein? I see a lot of vegans and vegetarians die in the hospital because of that stupid lifestyle.”
It was difficult in the beginning, of course, to switch from an omnivorous diet to more of a herbivorous diet. I sat down at my computer and researched how to survive properly as a vegetarian. It took me about a year to prepare myself for my lifestyle change. I went to all my favorite restaurants and tried, for the last time, my favorite dishes with meat, and then I went to all of them again and found a tasty alternative for each one.
I opened my mind to new foods, and I tried meals from every culture that catered more to vegetarians. During that time, I remained a pescetarian, and eventually, I even found a second (veggie rolls and avocado rolls) for my favorite sushi and became a vegetarian. Tofu, tempeh, and other alternative meat products became essential to my conversion. The delicious faux meats guided my choices in restaurants and allowed me to feel like an average diner in an everyday restaurant experience when I went out to eat with my carnivorous friends.
I had to prepare answers to the same questions about my new lifestyle for everyone that I bumped into, and I watched documentaries and conducted a lot of my research to speak with those individuals who bashed vegetarianism.
After five years of living as a vegetarian, the same friends and family now freak out if they misunderstand something that I said and thought that I’m going back to eating meat; I think now they would be a bit weirded out if I did go back to consuming flesh.
Now some of those same individuals who said that they could never become a vegetarian are trying out the healthier lifestyle for themselves. Some are starting out as pescatarians, others are cutting down their meat intake or matching my diet as a vegetarian, and some others have gone a step further and became a vegan. I want to tell all of my friends and family who are thinking about, or going through, converting to vegetarianism (or something of the like) to keep a healthy, positive and open mind when planning out your vegetarian debut.
Figure out what you’re going to eat and how you are going to change your life as you make this magnificent change. Remember that you have to make a conscious decision on what you want to put into your body, and you have to live with the consequences of your actions. Becoming a vegetarian is a life altering choice, and it shouldn’t be taken lightly. It can be extremely rewarding if you think about vegetarianism in this way, and you will be able to join a community of people who want to be healthier and live a compassionate lifestyle.