Awhile back I posted a video alluding to my vegetarianism on YouTube. Krystie asked a few questions about it, which I’m finally going to answer — sorry for taking so long!
I would like to know the different types of foods you have to eat. Is it a lot different than being a carnivore? Do you like being a vegetarian, is it a lot of work searching for vegetarian food? Do you have to take vitamins b/c of being vegetarian, b/c you don’t get all your nutrients? What do you like about being vegetarian?
First, I’d like to say that nutritionally, I suck at being a vegetarian. I started working on this during August and will definitely kick it up in September when school starts, travelling just threw me right off. I’m also a very picky eater with food texture issues, and that doesn’t help at all. Read: seriously, I’m twenty and I can’t eat yogurt with fruit chunks because it makes me gag.
I’m a lacto-ovo vegetarian, which means that while I don’t eat fish, poultry or red meat, I still do consume dairy and egg products. Likewise, a lacto-vegetarian still consumes dairy products, but not eggs, and an ovo-vegetarian consumes eggs but not dairy. A vegan consumes no animal products or by-products. There is also the existence of semi-vegetarianism [red meat free diets], pescitarianism [fish is consumed but no poultry or red meat] and pollotarianism [poultry is consumed but no fish or red meat], however, I’m not a believer that these half-attempts are true forms of vegetarianism. [Likewise, eating just poultry or fish kills more animals than eating just beef would, which from an animal-rights standpoint I think is stupid.]
So here are the answers that my nutrition textbook would approve of. Variety is huge, and cutting out meat makes variety even more important. Here’s the thing: I don’t eat beans except for green beans because they weird me out, the texture of tofu makes me gag, I don’t like eggs, I refrain from eating nuts when at school and can’t eat them at work, and I forget about the existence of seeds. That’s the majority of the alternatives section of the meat and alternatives food group for Canada’s Food Guide. So, mostly I increase my milk and alternatives servings [dairy is my favourite food group, totally.] Usually, I have at least two cups of 1% milk a day and a serving or two of lower-fat cheese.
As for vegetarianism being a lot different than eating meat, it depends on the context. Awhile back came the invention of fake meats — soy products that are packed with sodium and are meant to mock meat. This ranges from veggie “burgers” to “chicken” nuggets, “bacon” to sandwich “meat”. Some of which are terribly gross, some of which are good, all of which are FULL of sodium like I mentioned before–I have to mention it again just to make a point. When you’re eating these sorts of things, you can basically eat like any carnivorous person in the Western world. Except some of them are gross, they’ve got protein but aren’t all that good for you, and many argue “If you’re a vegetarian, why would you eat FAKE meat?”. Okay I get it. But I never said I didn’t LIKE meat, I just like animals being ALIVE and not being killed for our food when we’ve got so much other stuff to eat.
When I’m travelling, like I am right now, eating is much harder. I travel primarily with meat-eaters, so while they can go grab a burger anywhere and be happy, most places don’t cater to vegetarians. I don’t count fries as an acceptable meal, but sometimes they have to do. Other times, like last night, I just didn’t eat and went to Wal-Mart and found some other [crap] to eat. As for being at home, there’s a lot more control, so it’s not as hard. I discovered this summer that I totally LOVE raspberries and blackberries, and think that these will be a school year staple along with granola-type cereals and yogurt when I’m eating on campus a time or three per day.
I do take vitamins when I remember. I recently switched to One-A-Day Women’s vitamins to Centrum Performance because of the higher level of B-complex vitamins. I definitely am a believer that nutrition should come from food, but I’ll admit it, I do tend to forget to eat when things get crazy, and I’m known to not eat until like two in the afternoon. When you cut out seven hours of eating time from your day, it’s hard to pack it all in. So, the time and place for vitamins definitely applies to my life — I’m young, I forget to eat, I try to work out regularly, and I’m a vegetarian. The need for vitamins depends on your food intake, overall diet, and many other factors, so I made the choice to start taking vitamins again.
I like a lot of things about being a vegetarian. For one, eight-billion animals are killed every year for human consumption. I try to never force my beliefs about food on anybody, but knowing that WE have the power to change that and don’t kind of hurts. So I’m doing my part. When I’m trying to do the vegetarian thing right, I like that it DOES make more conscious about what I’m putting into my body, and that can’t be a bad thing at all. I like that it makes people ask questions, make people curious — because maybe they’ll decide to give it a go at some point. Maybe one day a week or maybe for the rest of their lives. I like that vegetarians have a smaller footprint on the environment. Not only are we not killing animals for food, but in processing those animals to be able to be eaten. Take this for example, in order to make a one-pound steak, it takes nearly 9,500 litres of water. I know we very much take water for granted in the Western world, but nearly ten-thousand litres of fresh water could do so much good for so many people [and animals!] that wasting that much for a pound of beef just blows my mind. There’s a lot more I could say on the subject of ecological sustainability and vegetarianism, but I’ll save that for another time.
Thanks for the questions, Krystie! If anybody else wants to know my thoughts further on anything above, or another topic altogether, drop me an e-mail or a comment.
Title quote from “Neither of Us Can See” by Incubus.