vegetarian

Vegetarian Lifestyle

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Rene

René is a strong willed lady from the south. She enjoys going on long runs and walks with her dogs. She has a passion for animal and women’s rights activism. She loves to play music from various time periods whenever she is around a piano, and loves to read fiction literature. She enjoys writing about her views, and hopes to compose and publish a fiction book in the future.

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There was an integral point in my life that caused me to become a vegetarian.  Around my senior year of college I became uninterested in eating meat.  I couldn’t explain why all of a sudden my favorite dishes of mine had become stopped being appealing to me.  One day it just clicked.  Becoming a vegetarian was something I needed to do for my own peace of mind.  I knew making the change would be difficult, but it felt like the best choice I could make for myself.

Changing my diet

I did not take changing my diet lightly.  I read books and I asked some doctors specific questions on what I foods I would need to eat more of to keep a balanced diet. I let a lot of assumptions about the vegetarian culture make me underestimate my choice.  However, after seeking the right information I felt confident that I could stay healthy while cutting out what was thought to be a necessary part of the human diet.  I found a lot of good information on how people digest plant proteins, and what portions to have of what foods to keep frequently in my food rotations.

During this transition period, I realized how unhealthy I was prior to my dietary change.  Things I needed to look out for as a vegetarian were things I neglected while I was eating meat, because I assumed I was eating well.  That was not at all the case.  For example, I didn’t realize that I was on the verge of anemia before I changed my diet.  When I was faced with the issue of ensuring I was receiving enough iron during my transition, I introduced iron rich plant foods that boosted my iron levels.  Almost immediately after becoming a vegetarian I felt a positive difference in how I was feeling.  I noticed I had more energy, and wasn’t tired as often.  I noticed I was able to do more workouts during the week, and as a result I was able to push myself out of the physical rut I was feeling. I also noticed that I stopped feeling so uncomfortably full after my meals, because I no longer over ate unhealthy foods.  My skin began to glow, and my attitude became more positive.  Overall, it felt wonderful! Transitioning my diet made me see that regardless of my choice in what I put in my body, I needed to be more conscious of what I was eating.

The feedback

I had to overcome a lot of negative feedback from many of my friends and family.  They couldn’t understand that I enjoyed being vegetarian.  I had to put up with a lot of refusals to acknowledge my diet change, and on many holidays I was left to fend for myself.  After time had passed, however, my friends and family saw the positive changes vegetarianism gave me and started being more supportive.  They started branching out of their comfort zones and together we found great recipes to make when groups got together.  Meat stopped being a divided issue among my peers.

My dietary change became a lifestyle change.  A lot of my favorite restaurants I could no longer go to because they didn’t have any vegetarian options.  I had to endure a lot of confusion from others and negative criticism to attempt to force me to go back to the more accepted choice of diets.  I was called hypocritical for eating meat before I changed my diet.  I was called a “hippie” for enjoying my meat-free diet.  I was laughed at for asking what broth was used in certain soups.  Over all, the adjustment seemed harder for my peers to accept than my choice to eat meat free products.

Making it Positive

I had to stick to my guns. The criticism made me realize that a lot of people didn’t “want” to accept my diet as something positive.  Progressing past the standard view of what a meal “should” look like scared my friends and family.  I had to help teach my friends that my change is for me.  I don’t judge others for eating meat, but I will get upset if they don’t respect my choice to abstain.  I don’t try to “convert” others to join me in being vegetarian.  I love it, but it doesn’t mean others will.  I always look for the healthier side of life.  It jumpstarted my active lifestyle, and made me feel overall like I respect my body.  I only get one, and treating it right is a priority.

Changing something about yourself can be hard and scary, but when you know you want/need to change it is important to do so.  Don’t be afraid to face your peers.  In the end the respect you gain from doing what you feel is right for you will outshine any negativity that comes your way.

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  • http://www.accordingtojewels.com Jewels

    I’ve thought about going full vegetarian for a while now, I currently only eat chicken, fish, and turkey. I just don’t think I can give up my chicken though. ;) I fully support all my friends who have optional or medically necessary dietary restrictions. I’m glad that you discussed talking to your doctor. I did NOT when I stopped eating red meat and though I never ate much of it I still had issues after stopping. I’ve been 14 years with no beef, pork, lamb, etc and I became anemic after and have to take iron supplements now.

    I strongly believe all dietary changes like that should be overseen and talked about with a doctor. I can’t stand people who put down what others eat; it has NO effect on them so why do they care. Glad you stuck to your guns and did what is right for you. Thanks so much for this article. :D

    • Rene

      There are many options out there to limit meat consumption, and it’s definitely not for everyone. However, limiting how much meat is eaten in just one person’s life can change the fate of thousands of animals each year, which is awesome! My hardest meat to give up was fish.

      People will frown upon and judge what they don’t understand. People have come to me with bible verses on why I should eat meat, and it often makes me wonder why it’s that important to try to “force” me back in to a dietary choice I voluntarily left. It’s the individual’s choice, clear and simple.

  • http://www.theindiechicks.com Chiara Mazzucco

    I was on the opposing end: my family turned veggie before I did and I felt really, really pressured to follow up. I had never been a big meat eater but having two types of anemia made the occasional steak mandatory. Then I read Skinny Bitch and then I watched some videos .. and then I read some other stuff.. and then I just.. stopped. I didn’t turn completely veggie as I still eat fish {pescatarian}.. but my health did a 180 once I stopped eating meat. Now, if I ever get a craving and give in, I usually get sick for 2 entire days after. My body and my mind are much more at peace without meat! And yes, from the rest of the world I have had to endure a crap ton of judgement and overall verbal abuse.. but there’s also something empowering about sticking to your guns and defending your lifestyle. We haven’t given my son meat – he’s 16 months – and now, if we’re out to dinner and he seems interested in trying, we give it to him and he spits it out.

    Like I said, our minds, bodies and souls are at peace not eating red meat and poultry. :)

    • Rene

      After a while our bodies stop producing the enzymes needed to digest meat. I specifically remember a time I was supposed to be given a meatless dish, but they messed up my order and I had to pick pieces out of the dish. I was sick for a few days! I vowed to always check my food before leaving a restaurant after that! Meat is an acquired taste. We don’t think about it when we are fed meat at young age, because it becomes natural for us to eat it. In my case, I grew up eating meat for every meal. Only after I started fixing meals for myself did I start significantly cutting out meat from my diet.
      I’ve come to the realization that there will always be risks when it comes to what we eat, because we, collectively, don’t think about the importance of a healthy diet. We don’t “need” meat to sustain ourselves when we find the right balance of iron and protein rich vegetables.
      I don’t think meat was meant to be eaten every day. For a long time animals were scarce, and were only available to those who could catch them (and was probably a bit healthier to eat, considering the animals weren’t given hormones). That’s how I feel at least. Sorry if this post bums you out!

  • http://notinthepink.com Ceri

    I’ve been a vegetarian for ten years now. As far as my family goes, it was relatively easy with them. My mum’s been a vegetarian for as long as I’ve been alive so I think that helped.

    But what I do notice is that there’s a double standard when it comes to how to treat vegetarians. I never ever ever force my views on other people; If you want to eat meat, go ahead. That’s your choice. But somehow it’s socially acceptable for meat eaters to force their views on us? So many people will laugh and snigger, waving a piece of meat in front of my face and saying, “Oooh, go on, I bet you want some of this. … It’s natural for us to eat meat. … Blah, blah, blah.” They have enough to say if vegetarians start speaking out about their views but it’s alright for them to force theirs down our throats.

    • Rene

      It’s a very interesting world we live in. Because vegetarianism isn’t “the norm” it gets ridiculed. I’ve become much more aware of the hypocrisy of forcing a choice on others. Dealing with criticism is something we, who make choices outside of the box, have to endure. Thanks for sharing!