healthy bytes: giving up meat
It seems everyone’s going vegetarian or vegan these days – your best friend, your mother, your mother’s chickens… (Don’t ask.) I used to think that vegetarians/vegans were all animal lovers, but lately I’ve learned it can also be a dietary choice. It can even make your eggs taste better, if you happen to be a chicken.
Regardless of your reasoning, choosing to become vegetarian or vegan is a big decision, and one that shouldn’t be made lightly. One vegetarian I know declares she lives off red wine, avocado toast and herbal tea. While it seems to work for her, I still thought I’d compile a list of things you should consider when giving up meat (and/or all animal products).
First things first – meat provides you with protein and iron, so you’re going to need to find these elsewhere. Do you like lentils, tofu or eggs? Because these are your meat substitutes, and you’ll need to eat at least one of these every day to keep your protein levels up. You can source iron from supplements, or else increase your spinach intake. For more tips on iron, check out this article.
Just because you’re eating meat alternatives, that doesn’t mean your friends are. In my brief (six months) stint as a vegetarian I attended several gatherings where I had to fill up on corn chips and explain repeatedly that I wasn’t watching my weight, I just couldn’t eat the fried chicken or bacon dip or Caesar salad. Be prepared to appall your hosts, or else bring your own food.
Journeying overseas is always going to be tricky for anyone with special dietary needs. It depends on whereabouts you go, but from my experience, Australia is the country with the most vegetarian and vegan options. At Eastern restaurants in Australia you’ll find tofu and lentil dishes – but I just spent two weeks in Thailand, and believe me, the only meat-free dishes were papaya salad and dessert.
While vegetarianism is really awesome and even liberating for some people, if it’s making you feel bad about yourself don’t push it. I tried being a vegetarian from January to July this year, and I stopped because I wasn’t enjoying food anymore. I missed going out for dinner and being able to share two dishes with my boyfriend. I missed being able to visit my mum and eat her signature lasagne. I missed that ‘full’ feeling that comes after stuffing myself at a barbecue. I guess what I’m trying to say is, being vegetarian works for some people, but it might not work for you. And that’s okay. (Even if you’re a chicken.)
Have you had any experience with vegetarianism/veganism? Share your own tips below!