food

Vegetarian misconceptions and why it’s not hard to be vegetarian

One thing that really annoys me is people who say they want to be vegetarian, but say they can’t because its too ‘hard’, either for money, social or health reasons. Now, I don’t care if you eat meat or not. I have no moral objections against meat eaters and I would never try to ‘convert’ someone or suggest someone is a bad person if they don’t have the same diet as me. But if you want to eat meat, just eat meat. Don’t make excuses for your meat eatery habits based on how ‘hard’ vegetarianism is, because it’s annoying and largely untrue. Here are some misconceptions about vegetarianism over the years and why they are wrong:

1:People will make fun of me.
An ex boyfriend of mine a few years back was complaining about how, if he went out with his work colleagues and said he was a vegetarian, they would make fun of him and he would get upset about it. He claimed this  was one of the main reasons he stopped being vegetarian.

Now, quite frankly I think that’s ridiculous. All of my life the majority of my friends and people I have known have always eaten meat, and yes often people do talk about ‘rabbit food’ or try to argue you out of it and will make jokes about animals and meat which may offend you if you have strong moral convictions, but I can’t imagine a scenario that would result in someone deciding not to be a vegetarian because people ‘made fun of it.’ I’m not particularly thick skinned, but at the worst its only ever been a bit annoying. I don’t really see how you can insult someone based on being a vegetarian, because what is really the worst thing you can say? “ooh your so lame with your salad hahah”? Seriously?  The only way I can see it being an issue is if a vegetarian (as some do) was being insulting about meat, acting disgusted and making moral judgements on carnivorous people. In that instance, they may well retaliate, and I can’t really blame them. You are completely entitled to your own opinions and moral judgement, but it is not your place to demonize someone who eats meat or force your opinions on others, and if you do expect people to get angry and treat you in a similar fashion. If you live and let live, you will probably find people will reciprocate

A lot of meat eaters don’t understand why someone would deny themselves meat and may find it a bit weird, but it’s important to remember that there is a difference between insults and banter, and I don’t see the banter as a big deal. At the end of the day (I hate that expression btw) you are a vegetarian for yourself, you choose to do it and you choose who you hang out with. If you’re so easily swayed that someone making a joke at the expense of your diet changes your mind, then to me that suggests you didn’t want to do it in the first place, in which case why do it?

2: All vegetarian food is healthy

As if. We have burgers, pizza, pies and can pretty much make any standard meat dish with vegetarian substitutes. Being a vegetarian doesn’t necessarily  mean you are healthy or thin just as it doesn’t mean  you have to be unhealthy and sickly. It depends on your individual diet and what you choose to eat. If you are turned off because you think you will just be eating salad, don’t worry.

  1. You can’t have a balanced vegetarian/vegan diet without heavily relying on vitamin pills.

Again, it depends on your diet. It can be harder to get enough protein and certain vitamins in a meat free diet as you have to think about incorporating it. However, it doesn’t have to be hard, and if you eat a good and varied diet you shouldn’t be missing out on anything. Beans (baked, but also chickpeas, lentils, red kidney beans etc) are very important, you can also get protein from nuts, seeds, soya etc. Iron (which can also be harder to get in a vegetarian diet) can be found in mushrooms (as can several other hard to find vitamins). Even without meat substitutes (or egg) there are plenty of resources available, but if you do want to eat quorn/soya substitutes they have a lot of protein too. As long as you eat fruit, vegetables and protein and don’t live on super noodles, you should be okay.

  1. It’s more expensive to be vegetarian

This is one I really don’t get. Meat is expensive, and vegetables tend to be cheap. Tins of beans are cheap, and even quorn and soya is normally cheaper than meat products.  Ready meals and certain foods that are pushed as being ‘healthy’ or organic foods can be more expensive, but even if you only ever ate organic and locally grown vegetarian meals I can’t see how your diet would be more expensive than that of a meat eater. I have found no evidence for this one, if you have please let me know.

  1. Vegetarians and vegans have nothing to eat

As I said earlier, almost every meaty meal can be made vegetarian, and most of them vegan. Some people like to eat as similar diet to meat eaters as possible, and for them there are a range of ‘fake meats’ available, replicating chicken, bacon, turkey, ham etc. I don’t really like those because I’ve never eaten red meat and so don’t really feel the need to eat something that looks and apparently tastes like it, but if you want there are a lot of options available. Quorn is a big maker of these, but there are also soya products if you don’t like quorn/are vegan.

In regards to meals, you can make pretty much all of them with vegetarian substitutes. Chilli con carne can be made with beans, soya/qorn mince, a combination etc and can be delicious, you can make shephards pie, vegetarian fish and chips, vegetarian roast dinners (very easily) vegetarian Christmas dinner, vegetarian pot roasts, vegetarian sausage rolls, sushi and many, many more. I can’t actually think of one meat dish that can’t be made vegetarian, if you can let me know :P. The only time it can be a struggle is if you’re eating out, as a lot of places will only have one or two vegetarian options so you have less choice, and sometimes no vegan option at all. However you learn pretty quickly which places will be okay and which won’t be (Angust Steak house is probably not your best bet as a veggie) and almost everywhere will have something vegetarian and will often be quite nice, although it would be good if there were more eating out options. There are also specific vegetarian restaurants (my favorite are south Indian, check out the ones in Euston!) which can be really good to visit.

6: You have to spend all your time cooking
As my blog attempts to show, you don’t have to be a good cook, spend much money or waste much time to have good and healthy meal. If you want to make everything from scratch that’s great, I love to cook like that, but sometimes you just don’t have the time, patience and money and that’s fair. It is perfectly acceptable to add touches to shop bought meals that make them tastier and healthier without having to make everything from scratch (my heaped nachos is a pretty good example of this) and especially if your just starting out with cooking you can buy ready made ingredients and add or change things according to your taste and to practice cooking further. You will have less choice in ready meals and restaurants so it may be beneficial to learn how to cook (which is why stuff like this blog exists!) but it is my form philosophy that cooking does not need to be hard.

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