“You’re a vegetarian?? So do you eat only vegetables?? How do you survive!?” I’ve been a vegetarian for about seven years now, just recently becoming a pescetarian in the past year, and I get those questions regularly. Living in the South being a vegetarian only makes things 100 times worse. Amidst the land of BBQ and tailgating food, it can be difficult to find something to eat. When people find out you don’t eat meat, a plethora of questions ensues.
The beginning of being a vegetarian is hard. It is tempting to go back to eating meat. I certainly had my moments in the beginning where I would slip back into having a good hamburger or some Chick-fil-a chicken nuggets. Once you finally have fully committed to barring meat from your diet, you have to decide what type of vegetarian you want to be. There are lacto-ovo vegetarians, vegans, pescetarians, raw vegetarians, semi-vegetarians…the list goes on and on. Some find it easier to transition from not eating red meat, to pescetarians, to a vegetarian or vegan life style. Ultimately, the choice is yours. With whatever decision you make should come with some research. Decide what best suits your lifestyle. And you should consult your parents. My parents have been immensely supportive and very accommodating as to making meat-free choices.
Once you decide on which type of vegetarian you desire to be, you have to think about what you’re going to eat. I was a lacto-ovo vegetarian, so I ate fruits, veggies, carbs (LOTS), egg and dairy products. But in order to create a well-balanced, healthy diet, you have to do research. I went to the bookstores and leafed through all the vegetarian cookbooks and found fun recipes on Pinterest, but now it came down to actually implementing the healthy-food ideas. It is easy, if you don’t eat meat, to fall into a routine of mac-n-cheese, pizza, and mashed potatoes. Don’t get me wrong, of course I love all of those foods, and it is totally acceptable to eat them, but you have to balance it out. Great sources of protein come from soy and legumes. Cooking tofu in a mild korma sauce, eating some great soybeans with a citrus sauce sprinkled over, chicken nuggets (made of tofu of course) dipped in ketchup…are all delicious and great sources of protein!
So to those debating becoming a vegetarian, try it! Start off not eating red meat for a week and go from there. It truly is not that difficult once you commit. Google vegetarian lifestyles. Check out the cookbook section at the bookstore. And finally, talk to your parents about your decision!