Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Cheeky Cheeky Vegetarian Guide


It’s 2012. This year definitely has its perks- Ellen is in a CoverGirl commercial, Jonah Hill gets to play a cop in a movie, and Katy Perry has her own 3D movie coming out. I die. 2012, you’re kind of great. But, unfortunately for me, 2012 isn’t the year everyone I know has decided to follow my lead and go vegetarian. I always hold out hope that, for some reason, the people closest to me will see the wisdom of my ways. I think the opposite has actually happened- everyone I know started eating more meat. It’s like a Paula Deen tribute meal for breakfast, lunch and dinner every single day. Bacon wrapped bacon makes a great breakfast- but you better deep-fry it first! Truth be told, being a vegetarian in a non-vegetarian world can be a bit tough, especially if you’re new. I’ve been telling fools to get their greasy burgers away from my face for 10 years now. I’m an old pro at doing the beef sauce turn down ever so gracefully. Years of practice, my friends. I've had quite a few people ask me recently how I made the transition into vegetarianism, and how I've kept it up for so long. I went vegan for a bit, but ended up deciding vegetarianism is a smarter choice for me. I decided to get my super duper official guidebook out there- it's not that hard, once you get the basics down.

There is A LOT more to being vegetarian than not putting meat in your mouth. It’s a lifestyle choice. Here my basic guidelines for vegetarian success:

1. When In Doubt- ASK! - You’re at a dinner party and someone passes you a casserole dish. It looks meat free but you know how much Jenny likes to put bacon in EVERYTHING. Your friends dragged you out to dinner at a steakhouse. (They refuse to let your vegetarianism define their dinner plans.) The only thing you see on the menu for you is a side salad. Simple solution to both scenarios- ASK! Never be afraid to ask someone if there is meat in a dish, or ask a waiter if they can whip something special up for you. Most restaurants will be able to throw something together- steamed veggies & a mashed potato side dish. There are enough vegetarians in the world now that we shouldn’t have to feel embarrassed to make special requests.

2. Learn How To Cook (Somewhat)- With all the previously stated issues that can arise when eating out, it’s definitely a bonus if you can cook for yourself as a vegetarian. I mean, trust me- I still LOVE going to a diner and ordering a grilled cheese and fries (favorite meal ever.) But cooking healthy meals at home is a really nice alternative for when I don’t feel like loading my body with greasy foods. I’m not what I would categorize as a “great cook” by any means. But I do have my go-to vegetarian dishes. Omelets, taco soup, pasta loaded with veggies, veggie burgers, and even oatmeal from a pouch. Yes, I’m fancy like that. You don’t have to go out and take cooking classes or anything. (Who has the time or the money?) Just Google some recipes and become your own personal (poor man’s) Iron Chef.

3. Feed Your Body- When you eat meat, it’s really easy to just float along, eating what you like, and not paying attention to what your body needs. Protein is easy to get when you’re eating cows. Right? Well, not so easy when your diet doesn’t consist of any of God’s creatures. Paying attention to how much protein, iron, and B12 you’re getting is extremely important. If you are (like me) an Ovo-Lacto vegetarian, you eat both eggs and dairy. Through those two food items, you’re already getting a lot of calcium, B12 and protein. Add in legumes and you’ve got tons of protein. Also, a multivitamin couldn’t hurt. Sure, every meal isn’t going to be perfectly balanced, and that’s totally okay. Nobody’s perfect (except for Ryan Gosling.) Just keep the grilled cheeses in check and pay attention to what you’re throwing down your gullet. Some of it should be green.

4. When You’re Travelling- Come Prepared- I cannot stress this enough- always have a backup plan. Whether it’s an energy bar, trail mix or a Mrs. Field’s cookie, you’ll be happy you have it. I once went to Austin for SXSW and went two and a half days without a solid meal because I simply hadn’t planned on what I would eat. Of course, all of my friends were stuffed with “the best BBQ EVERRRR!” and couldn’t care less about my hungry little Veggie tummy. (The fact that I was drinking about 12 beers each day might have had a little something to do with my accidental hunger strike. When in Rome…) When you’re travelling out of your comfort zone, always be prepared for few vegetarian options. If worse comes to worst, set out on your own to find food. Or live off of beer for a couple of days like yours truly... whatever floats your boat.

5. You Have Your Beliefs; They Have Theirs- The biggest lesson I learned in my first year of being a vegetarian was to stop defending myself as if I had done something wrong. Being a vegetarian is not a choice that affects other people. It is a personal choice that you do not have to defend to anyone. Certain really awesome, totally stellar people like to bully vegetarians and try to make them feel stupid. They say lots of stuff like “You know cows were put on this planet for us to eat, right? It’s called the food chain for a reason. DUH!” It’s a waste of your time and brain cells to even bother with reasoning with these people. You’re better off giving them $5 to leave you alone. On the other hand, if a rational human being approaches you and truly wants to know your reasoning behind going Veg, have at it! I, personally, love telling my “Veggie Tale.” (That’s what I’ve nicknamed the story behind why I chose to become a vegetarian. See what I did there?)

6. When Someone Offers You Meat- Don’t Be An Asshole- Seriously, though. There’s nothing worse than a vegetarian who has a mental breakdown every time someone offers them a chicken salad sandwich. It’s not like they’re forcing it down your throat, and they probably didn’t mean to offend you. My Mom still offers me meat sometimes, even after my 10-year meat strike. When this happens, I give her my best Amy Poehler/Seth Meyers Weekend Update “REALLY!?!” and that usually scores a laugh, and she passes the meat dish right by me. For people who offer me meat that don’t know I’m a vegetarian, I usually just say, “No, thank you.” And they drop it. For those few devil spawns that keep pushing it, insisting I try the brisket, I pull out the big guns and admit that I don’t eat meat. This almost always spurs a big heated discussion, which I like to avoid. Then, refer back to #4.

Bottom line for veggies- take care of your body, feed it properly, and don’t be rude to people who are trying to feed you.

19 comments:

  1. This is such a great guide! I haven't ever really considered going vegetarian, but I've significantly decreased my meat intake in the past year. I just get a lot more satisfaction out of a great veggie dish than a piece of chicken. At least if I ever do go veggie, now I'll have some guides to follow!

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  2. Haha, I totally love this. Especially #6. My mom totally does the same thing! And I stopped eating meat when I was 13! I'm also not one of those "meat is murder" vegetarians so I don't freak out if someone puts meat near me/eats it in front of me. When I'm in Mexico visiting my family, I do have to gently remind them that I still don't eat meat and they totally get it (even if they don't understand it). :)

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  3. Great post! I've just turned vegan for the third time after being vegetarian since I was 11, but maaan it's hard! England literally has the worst options for vegans; for food on the go, my only option is a veggie delite from subway or just a salad :/ So I definitely agree with being prepared! I always have snacks or fruit with me.

    Sadly, I'm definitely one of those vegetarians that has a hard time accepting some people don't have the same beliefs. I'll argue my case 'til the cows come home (no pun intended!) much to the annoyance of my boyfriend who would gladly eat bacon and steak for every meal if he could! XO

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  4. I feel your pain. I also live in the Midwest (aka beefville USA), and it can be difficult (especially with older family members who don't quite get it) to not feel awkward or embarrassed about your diet. Thanks for posting this!

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  5. I've been a vegetarian for over 12 years now and I still have my dad offering me meat always saying things like 'Just because you are vegetarian doesn't mean you can't try it" Hahaha! I just have to laugh because it is so silly. I guess he still thinks its a fad or something hehehe.

    And I cannot agree more with you about the not being a total jerk when someone offers you meat. I have friends who seriously freaks out every single time and then goes on a giant rant about how horrible meat is and how stupid people are eating it, which let me tell you is not only super annoying but really upsetting because they are just so mean to the person who offered them the meat. Ugh. I had better stop now because this little comment could very well become a novel.

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  6. I had no idea you were a vegetarian but this post came in at the very perfect time! I will have a friend over whom I have no idea what to feed him with because he is vegetarian and this helped me tons!
    Keep up the amazing blog :D

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  7. Love this post and all these tips!
    I still can't believe how hard it is to eat out at most restaurants. I am amazed that in 2012 there isnt even an option of a basic veggie burger or veg pasta on most menus. It is really hard to be veggie and healthy unless you do all of your own cooking I find.

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  8. Have you read skinny bitch, best book ever for people on the cusp or thinking about going veggie. I've been veggie for almost 10 years now. everyone should read skinny bitch!!!!

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  9. As a vegetarian I totally love this. #6 is the best!!! Just because we're veg doesn't mean we are better than other people or have the right to make them feel bad. (At least not all the time.) ;) I always tell people, "More meat for you!" With a genuine smile of course. I can travel and eat out almost anywhere now that I'm used to maneuvering the meaty landscape.

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  10. My veggie friend eats burgers when he's drunk, I wasn't supposed to tell anyone but I needed to vent :P

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  11. Awesome post! I am not vegetarian but I have many friends who are and this post was spot on.

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  12. Love this post!

    I have been a vegetarian since December 2008, and recently switched to be vegan. I totally agree with feeding yourself. I think some vegetarians go into be a vegetarian not prepared, like myself, because you miss on a lot of nutrients (calcium, iron, omega 3s, etc...).

    Number 5 was right on it. I love telling people about how I became a vegetarian, but it does become irritating when they not only want to listen to story, but also debate against it. We obviously made the choice for ourselves, and not for you.

    I really like your blog found it on http://amymorby.com/.

    Brittany
    http://wistfulchronicles.blogspot.com/

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  13. Thanks for sharing this! I have been a vegetarian almost 3 1/2 years and it was definitely a transition at first. I wasn't tempted to eat meat because I knew why I made the switch to becoming a veggie and why it was important. For the first few months, though, I did get sick a lot because I wasn't eating well enough. I was still learning what I could and couldn't eat, which often resulted in me not eating enough or eating too much of something less healthy because it was vegetarian-friendly and not a vegetable (yup, you guessed it: grilled cheese). haha.

    http://viennawaitsblog.blogspot.com/

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  14. Thank you for sharing this, Carmen! I've been veggie a couple times in my life, but never for more than a year. Recently, I've been considering it again, but the timing for me to do it is borderline creepy right now (just started seeing a guy who's veggie - if I go veggie now, it's going to be creepcity, right? ugh).

    My big struggle with vegetarianism is that my tummy hates soy, and a LOT of veggie stuff involves soy. (Quorn products make me the happiest girl alive - seriously, their "chik'n" nuggets are heavenly and soy-free.) Any tips? I'm sure cooking for myself consistently would help.

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  15. Wow you've been veg for 10 years? Way to go, girl! You should do another post on why you decided to go veg...or have you already? I've been vegan for a year and a half and was veg for 4 years before that. I totally agree with #5. I'm proud to be vegan and if someone is curious to hear my story or reason why, I'm happy to tell it. I do admit that I'm not the type to come out and announce, "I'm Vegan!!" I'd rather not get into it and have people give me a hard time about it. It's really hard to get HARDCORE carnivores understand why meat is not good for you.

    xx Adrian

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  16. What a wonderful post. I haven't eaten red meat in over 20 years! I stopped eating all meat when I was really little. A few years back I started eating fish, but I know I will never eat red meat again. I feel like people get offended when I don't eat meat, which is so weird to me. To each their own. :)

    http://shannonhearts.blogspot.com

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  17. Great tips! Number 4 has been a life saver for me so many times. Every time I'm traveling, even if I'm staying at someone's house, I bring snacks because I never know when my first meal will be or what they have in their kitchen. I always feel like people will see the wisdom of my ways *any day now* but it doesn't seem to happen and turns out they just think that eventually I'll see the wisdom of their meat eating ways :)

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  18. I really like your post. I have been a vegetarian for a year now and these were also things I've learned along the way. It's hard to not argue with the people who bring it up just to bother you. But you always are the better looking one in the situation if you don't.

    damnjacquie.blogspot.com

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