Did you just become vegetarian? Looking at restricting your animal product intake? Check out these common mistakes to avoid to help keep your new journey a little easier.
While this might be a good way to transition from avid meat eater to vegetarian, meat substitutes aren’t great for the long term. Not only do they contain GMOs, sodium, and fillers, they can actually be as high in fat as actual meat. Not to mention these substitutes are expensive!
Too much cheese
Aside from it being delicious and familiar, there are a number of reasons why new vegetarians fall into this trap. Mainly, media’s got us all in a panic about protein intake. Unless you want to be a body builder, you really don’t need to worry about protein. At least, not to the extent that fitness gurus want you to think. There are plenty other sources of protein out there besides animal products. If you’re really worried, read my previous blog Where in the Heck Do Vegans Find Protein.
Furthermore, dairy isn’t a very healthy way to get protein. It’s full of unnecessary fats that clog our systems. Plus, if you are vegetarian for moral reasons, a big component in factory farms is the dairy industry.
White pasta, white bread, and other icky carbs
White pasta and white bread are not good for you. That’s the bottom line. True, grains are supposed to be the foundation of our food pyramid, but these foods could hardly pass as grains at all. White grains are refined grains, which mean they have been stripped of their bran and germ where all the fiber, vitamins, and minerals are stored. So, all that good stuff grains have in store for us? Yeah, these foods don’t have it.
Only eating side dishes
Becoming vegetarian isn’t all about what you give up, it’s what you gain too! This means new delicious foods you never had reason to try before. If you think you are going to want to remain vegetarian long term with only side dishes, forget it! You’ll end up malnourished, bored, and unhappy. Look up new recipes. Try things you’ve never had before. Trust me, it’ll be worth the little extra effort.
Junk food is an easy pit to fall into, and is especially tempting when you are limiting food intake. A common mistake many new vegetarians have is binging out on junk they in place of the sustenance they were getting from meat because it’s familiar. Guess what? The junk food cravings don’t subside if you want to become vegan either. Much of the junk food above is entirely vegan (including Oreos!). Make sure to avoid junk food and pick up alternatives for snacks such as fruit, veggies, or nuts.
Taking criticism personally
So you say you’re vegetarian because it’s better for you, and your friends suddenly start attacking you. They insist you are not getting enough protein. Though, come to think of it, they never seemed to care so much about your health before…
It’s not you they’re attacking. Your choices are different and they want to know why you’re deciding to go against the grain. Don’t take it personally. They aren’t mad at you, they’re mad at differences that might challenge their thinking. And, if you bring up the moral issue of meat, you are likely to offend them even more. So, what do you do? Brush it off. Know that what you are doing isn’t wrong–it’s challenging.
Expecting others to jump on board
I know, I know. Animal cruelty is awful. The food industry and the lies they tell us about the food we eat every day is disgusting. As terrible as conditions are, don’t expect other people to change their entire life around because of one conversation you’ve had with them. People are stubborn and take a long time to convince. Believe it or not, most people who never choose to be vegetarian are still good people. Why was it that you clicked on this link? It’s not because being vegetarian is easy. Learning to be vegetarian and learning to do it well takes practice. There’s a lot of trial and error involved.
Some people will come around with patience and open, honest discussion. If you are to pushy, you’ll likely drive people away from your cause.
Expecting others to know your restrictions
Sometimes it may seem obvious that a vegetarian diet is completely without meat. It’s okay. The term ‘vegetarian’ is unique to each person. Some may not eat gelatin. Some may eat fish. Some might not wear leathers. Some might eat chicken every third Sunday of each month on odd numbered years. I’ve met someone who was vegetarian, nixing all meat except bacon. Each journey is unique, and just because a person’s restrictions aren’t as strict as yours does not mean that they aren’t doing it right. Just be happy that they are restricting their meat at all.
In the meantime, you might have to repeat a million times what you will and will not eat. If you’re worried about a host getting your diet wrong, bring your own food along. Be polite. You may get frustrated, but kindness and patience is the only way others will be willing see your point of view.
“But It Tastes So Good” is the number one excuse I get from meat-eaters on why they do not want to switch to a vegetarian/vegan diet. I am not out there to make everyone vegan. I do, however, want to share what food does to your body and to the world around you. Let me show you that being good to yourself and to the earth can taste just as good, or better, than what you are already doing (both literally and figuratively).