My on again off again relationship with vegetarianism/how to survive food

Recently I have gone back to being a vegetarian SHOCKING ( …not really actually) I have had an on again off again relationship with vegetarianism (is that a thing?) since late middle school. I first learned about vegetarians in middle school when two girls in my class informed me that they did not eat meat. I was super interested! How do you do that ? So what do you eat? What about the rest of your family? They answered all my questions and even brought up the idea of how they love their pets and animals so much why would they eat them if they don’t have to. (Fish are friends not food– I adopted that motto after Finding Nemo) I thought about this a lot I started researching and going to different websites and ordered vegan and vegetarian starter kits. These kits were really helpful in informing you about what you may already be eating that is vegan and things you can substitute. They also usually included some sort of information on different companies that were either doing animals right or adding to the cruelty and exploitation of animals.

When I stopped eating meat the very first time my mother was very unsupportive (she still is not very supportive of it)  and I think this happens a lot when people switch over to a vegetarian diet. Everyone thinks it’s very extreme and everyone who doesn’t support or understand it automatically seems to become a health expert. These same people also usually will go out to a fast food restaurant and order the biggest artery clogging meal ever, but say you are extreme for trying to eliminate meat from your diet.

I’m not going to lie I love cheeseburgers. A good cheeseburger and french fries is one of my favorite meals next to breakfast cereal. I also love animals and there are days where i would have trouble eating a cheeseburger knowing that it was a cow knowing that that cow most likely suffered and was treated horribly. Knowing that they pump up these cows with feed they usually would not ingest unless they had to. I’ve met a few cows before and they are very sweet and warm and kind especially with other animals. I felt bad and guilty eating cheeseburgers.

My first long run of being a vegetarian was about 2 years, I was sick of feeling sick every time I ate meat. I hardly even liked meat in the first place so why was I putting myself through all this hell? Chicken- bleh, Fish- eww, pork- why is it so salty, turkey- you want me to eat what? A giant chicken? This is usually how I felt about meat about my whole life ask my parents I was a very picky eater, bread and cheese for me or breakfast cereal and I was set. Anyway yes I should have gone to a doctor about feeling sick when I would eat meat, but as my family knows I hate doctors. I don’t know maybe it’s all the visits I had as a child because of asthma and allergies. Nothing ever good came of those I believe. So I decided to quit meat and lower my egg and dairy intake on my own. I felt a lot better I wasn’t in pain, I didn’t feel like my arteries were clogging. My acne cleared up a bit and my overall mood and energy level was very good.

So after another two years of on again off again, I am back on the wagon and hopefully for a long while maybe even the rest of my life. I was doing fine before I just really wanted a cheeseburger one day it’s what I missed the most and I went back and forth on if I should or shouldn’t for maybe 2 months. I finally did it and ended up eating meat for about 5 to 6 months then quit it again for about 5-6 months then started again and stopped again and here we are. So even though I have not stayed a veggie consistently there are some things that have helped me that could possibly help you if you are thinking about making a switch.

  1. Think about what you eat now and figure out how much of it is actually vegan or vegetarian, that way you know you can at least eat something right away.
  2. Decide on what will work best for you. If you’re thinking about going full vegan a lot of people have decided that quitting dairy is actually the best first move if you’re trying to ease into it. Why? Well I’ve read in books such as the Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone and some sites that dairy, especially cheese has addictive properties making it difficult to give up. I for one can say that I have a cheese addiction that I attempt to keep under control by number one not buying much of it or making sure the cheese is vegetarian, yes you read that right vegetarian cheese. Did you know all cheese is not vegetarian. Yeah look it up also while you’re at it did you know most humans are lactose intolerant?
  3. Order/download the vegan/vegetarian starter kits from websites such as physicians committee, the controversial PETA, vegankit.com is a website completly dedicated to starting out.
  4. If you want you can watch these movies/documentaries about different ways of eating. Many are available on Netflix or Amazon Prime. Be aware some of these contain very graphic images of the animal abuse that goes into making our way of life. Others go into the details of how today’s family farms are being taken over. Many of these will make you angry and make you rethink everything about your food not just going vegan but also how chemicals and pesticides are used.
    1. Vegucated
    2. Forks Over Knives
    3. Food , Inc
    4. Farmaggedon
    5. Hungry For Change
    6. To Make a Farm
    7. Earthlings (you can actually watch this straight from their sight)
    8. Fat, Sick, & Nearly Dead
    9. Food Matters
    10. P.S. If you’re curious about chemicals you put on your body or use to clean your home watch Chemerical. But that’s a different monster , we’re talking about food here.
  5. YOU CANNOT SURVIVE ON OREOS or processed food for that matter. Even though finding substitutes you like can be great don’t try to survive just on these. Just because something is vegan or vegetarian doesn’t mean it’s good for you. You still need to look at whole foods and nutritional values.
  6. Find recipes in books, websites, and blogs that you can follow some of these are good motivational tools and help you discover new ways to cook as well as find products that are cruelty free and vegan to use on your self and home.
    1. Skinny Bitch
    2. Naked Food Magazine
    3. Rabbit food for my bunny teeth
    4. Post Punk Kitchen
    5. The Kind Life
    6. Chole’s Kitchen
    7. Spork Foods
    8. Funeral for my Fat
    9. Cruelty Free Kitty
  7. Take your vitamins! Especially if going vegan. Look into a good vegan or vegetarian vitamin. Currently I am drinking my vitamins in the form of a nutritional shake from garden of life as a meal once a day, since I have been really bad at cooking/eating lately. Be aware these shakes are not the most delicious thing in the world but they are tolerable.
  8. Always ask questions. It’s annoying but if you’re going out to eat you will want to make sure what you’re eating is actually vegetarian or vegan. i.e. mexican food , you want to know if the refried beans were made with lard or oil. Most traditional mexican beans are made with lard. Panera’s broccoli cheddar soup…sounds vegetarian.*buzzer* that soup is actually made with chicken stock whomp whomp whomp, so it’s always good to ask.  BTW if you are in a real pickle there are fast food options available.
  9. Don’t let others discourage you and don’t try to persuade others to eat and think the way you do. If someone wants more information about your diet or why they will ask. If someone insults your choice for not eating meat you can swiftly retort that you aren’t judging the way they choose to eat so there’s no reason to judge yours. When people act like a pretentious ass about the way they live their vegan or vegetarian lifestyle is how vegans and fellow veggies get a bad rap. Teach wisely.
  10.  Remind yourself once in a while of why you’re doing it. Maybe it’s your health or your love for animals either way it’s a good idea to remember once in a while how you felt before vs. after.

I’m not saying that not eating meat is for everyone but maybe you care more about something else, like where the food comes from, or what gets put into your body and so you will make more informed decisions about how you acquire what you eat and maybe if everyone started to take a bit more of that into consideration maybe the food industry will began to change the practices we are not okay with.

-Jessica

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