Are you a vegetarian? Have you thought about it? This article is not to impose a style of eating or to tell you to make an overhaul on how you eat every day, this is more of a – What to Expect When You’re Expecting when you omit meat from your diet. There is also an explanation on why this is predominately text for vegetarians rather than vegans.
I understand veganism = more sanctity of life and that path is a more admirable one to those who do it, rather than vegetarianism, because there is less suffering and animal exploitation that goes along adhering to vegan practices. But generally, the adoption of vegan diets cannot be completed overnight.
But pragmatically if you are trying to spread awareness to countless people it is going to be much easier to get 1000 people to adopt a vegetarian diet than a vegan diet.
As another caveat veganism is ethically and morally better in the sanctity of suffering and most likely has less impact on the environment, but it is difficult for most people to alter everything they’ve ever known (people generally eat poorly anyways) to change every meal.
I am speaking in broad generalizations. It is just out of shear simplicity helping people transition to this approach to see if they like it and ultimately let their future choices proliferate from there. Then they may take it upon themselves to expand and transition fully, and if not it is still an admirable choice to omit even some meat from the diet.
Adopting vegetarianism is usually the choice first to attempt (if at wanted to at all) out of pragmatism; a lot of people don’t want to take the time to adopt a diet that is a complete overhaul on every meal for the rest of their lives.
So, I’m going advocate vegetarianism for the moment. I’m even advocating meatless Monday, because if you can do it on one day, you could possibly do 2, just making it a habit and expand upon it. This is from the strategy of “tiny habits” and building upon them, from the leading behavioral psychologist at Stanford University, BJ Fogg, the easiest way to accomplish goals is to incorporate and build these tiny habits. But I digress,
So I accredit to the vegans that they are contributing to less suffering & pain than vegetarians but I’m also stating, conversion to vegetarian is much easier. But individuals have to start somewhere. 1000 vegetarians or Meatless Mondays are better than zero v’s or mm’s. So with that preface I’m going to continue forth with practicality of helping people understand how to healthily adopt a vegetarian diet without letting their social life, some controversial options they can adopt to ensure their health, and prevent energy decline.
Firstly, the dichotomy between these two labels – they both avoid all range of meats, but
Veganism avoids all animal products
Vegetarianism avoids meats but still allows dairy.
Firstly, ask why would you want to transition? What is the underlying meaning and pull towards adopting a vegetarian diet?
Mine was ethically. The more understanding of the industry of meat the more I don’t want to send money to support factory farming by purchasing their products. I do not feel right contributing to something so ominous and powerful that has mechanized animals for profitability. That’s it in a nutshell. The treatment of them I cant justify, and the indiscriminate use of water they use I also cant. I can’t have others killing animals for me in that manner. I don’t have a fanatical love for animals but I do understand that they have some sort of sentience and objectifying them to onslaught pain from birth to plate doesn’t seem right to me. So until there is another option I am opting out.
There is a great piece by Vice that sums up the usage on water to create meat as well.
Secondly ask why would you not want to transition?
I was worried my performance and energy would decline. It hasn’t. I still make sure I get the essential Omega 3’s and B12 vitamins that effect your health and performance. Being vegetarian it is easy to do because you can supplement with these, you can also get your B12 from eggs.
If you want to learn more about the health concerns of vegans and vegetarians here is an article that goes into more depth on the health of them.
Is it healthy?
The main concerns when it comes to mainly eating plants is that you will not get enough B12, copper, iron, zinc, and Omega 3’s
But the other aspect is you are getting an exorbitant amount of plants that ARE nutrient dense. Typically, that is why when you hear great testimonials the first few months of adopting a plant based approach. It is predominately due to the intake of these high nutrient vegetables. But in some cases there later is a depletion effect because people who felt so great before had still reserves of a lot of the essential nutrients that we need to thrive, that are also found in animal products.
Everyone is different. Some people have certain genetics that wont warrant them as much energy being on a solely plant based diet. While there are examples of others flourishing, such as Rich Roll. A vegan and named one of the world’s 25 fittest men by Men’s Fitness magazine who runs marathons and is an elite athlete. People’s ability or inability to function and convert the nutrients they take in to fulfil their physiological needs, matters. Sometimes peoples’ inability is of no fault of their own, their will power isn’t weak, it is the subject of science and their genetic predisposition.
The bottom line on ideology vs science
There are ideological arguments and there are scientific arguments. There are moral and ethical debates and also scientific debates. The body requires certain amounts of nutrients; we know this scientifically. Some people are genetically predisposed to malfunctions when they solely eat plant based foods when omitting vital nutrients. This has to do with the conversion of plant molecules for our body to use, some people just aren’t as optimal of converting these nutrients.
We know the science behind the human diet and we need certain things to thrive. I don’t want to sacrifice my health, making the “perfect” (trying to limit my impact on the environment & animal mistreatment) defeat the good. If you want to do the same, you must ensure you’re getting these nutrients. Your life quality depends on it. If you can’t function to your potential throughout the day to help others because your diet is stifling you, then what is the point, you need to make sure you are also functioning to help your own quality of life.
If it’s a health concern or you are worrying that you don’t know what to eat, there are exorbitant amounts of options to choose from that are just as savory and fulfilling.
Here is a practical and jump start guide to understanding vegetarian diets. What to Expect When You’re Expecting
If you generally cook on your own and enjoy cooking, then you will be fine, the people closest to you will be confused a little, but treat their confusion simply as curiosity. They really don’t know where you’re coming from. Your friends and family don’t know why you’re making this alteration and they may not care. Others who are further away from your inner circle will be even more difficult to explain to. You can simply not engineer the trouble by not making it an enormous issue. Just don’t mention it, typically, in most instances, no one will notice. But there will be dinners, there will be gatherings, and there will be parties where something may come awry. And sometimes it’s inevitable that people are going to notice you opted out of the tender brisket, and this observation may go horrible.
Expect awkward exchanges if you are an outspoken person about your diet. Something that occurs so often (meal time) and something so integral that comprises those meals (meat), omitting it is going to send confusion across the restaurant table. Or a prodding uncle insisting you have to try a bite of his steak tartare. It is customary, at least in the western world, to dine upon meat. It has been ingrained into an everyday practice, if you oppose this, it will bring up curiosity and may make others uncomfortable.
When I first began I attempted to act as everything was copacetic. But people do notice, when you try to order a salad that has no meat, the waiter asks “Do you want shrimp or chicken on that” – or the company you are dining with alarmingly states “there’s no meat on that salad” as if it were the restaurants error. You have to say “no” to the waiter, inadvertently letting the table know you declined meat, “I know” to the company you’re dining with. Then the fun begins.
That rarely happens in the reversal, where a waiter reacting to a burger order “are you sure you don’t want the side of a vegetable medley instead of the fries” it’s just simply so intertwined in our customs to have meat with meals, so expect some impediments but I’d rather have a few awkward exchanges than choose the ominous shadowy road of mechanized animal farming and just feeling entrenched with guilt each meal I eat.
These exchanges are not unbearable. But they are uncomfortable.
But generally, as I’ve noticed they are few and far between.
So how would you order out? And how would you respond to these awkward dining experiences.
Most of the time, if you are doing this for ethical reasons you don’t want recognition, you just simply want to enjoy your dinner and the company along with it. Not explaining your moral stances, having half the table thinking they’re sitting next to a crank.
You’re not going to change anyone’s mind on the sanctity of life before the appetizers arrive. It would be the same as convincing people they should walk to work because it’s healthier and protects the environment, generally most people don’t care what is good for themselves and the enviornment. What they do care about is anything that disrupts their equilibrium of experience. Hearing someone omit meat, and recognizing it as a purposeful decision, does trigger an alarm to everything they’ve known for the past 2 hours. So people will investigate so they can go back to their steady flow of status quo. So how can you just fly under the radar without making everything incredibly uncomfortable.
One trick I’ve learned is that’s ordering pasta gets little acknowledgement about meat omission. That’s a really easy way to order a nice but still fulfilling meal.
Ordering A salad.
Sometimes when ordering a salad, it is very small in portion so it might be prudent to ask the waiter the size of the salad or scan the restaurant for someone else who’d ordered on to get some sort of idea.
Ordering a salad is typically the easiest because they do have meatless options, but you will get a few either questions or glances while you’re handed your dish and the others are handed their massive rib roast piled upon onion straws drenched in god knows what mayonnaise based paste.
The times they are a changin’
There will be vegetarian and vegan options
Evermore there are vegan and vegetarian selections on menus but in great times of progression come the times of absurd goofy names such as ”Maybel’s All Veggie Animal Friendly Stack Did We Make it Obvious There’s No Meat in Here Entrée with a side of eggplant” So salads, pastas, or tacos are very easy.
If you do order one of these ridiculously titled entrees people may seek out more information. People don’t like anything that breaks the patterns of their normal days. So they will remark upon your order.
People may feel insecure and reach out to ask why you ordered what you ordered. Again if you were to reverse the role it would make very little sense and come off rude, “why did you order the fish and chips”. But people don’t recognize what they’re doing or how they come off, its just curiosity. If you did ask why the fish and chips that question you would, typically, get the response “I don’t know it sounded good”. You don’t want to lie and be a closeted vegetarian your entire life, dodging dates and dinners so you can simply react the same way a person would if you asked them about why they ordered their dish. “It sounded appetizing” “it looked appealing” “Trying to eat lighter meals”
Typically the easiest response I’ve found is “I don’t know it sounded good” which isn’t lying. And if you haven’t had it before, “ I wanted to try something new, I feel adventurous today” People don’t generally need a well formatted reason they just simply want A reason so just go with the easy road.
Another great response that’s simple and find quite effective is “I’m trying to eat healthy”. That gets all other questions shut down, because, as a generality, salads are considered healthy.
Now that you have dodged awkwardness while dining we can actually get down to the science of what your body needs. Remember there is a difference between methodology of ethics in how you eat and scientific findings on what nutrients you need to be healthy.
You need B12
Concerns of lack of b12
Anemia is the last period of B12 deficiency. Prior to anemia a lot of other things set in such as weakness, memory loss, psychiatric problems, fatigue and neurological problems way before anemia is even visible.
B12 deficiency is that diagnosis simple and cheap. A B12 test can be performed by any laboratory, and should be covered by insurance. If you don’t have insurance, you can order it yourself from a lab online.
A review using serum B12 indicated that 52% of vegans and 7% of vegetarians are B12 deficient. So you can do it safely.
2 ways to get B12
Eating B12 rich foods
The most common form of B12 is Cyanocobalmin. There is some evidence for a better option hydroxycobalmin to combat neurological disease.
The 3 heavy hitters are
These fatty acids found mostly in fish are essential to brain health and These long-chain omega fats are found exclusively in marine algae and fish and shellfish, so the only way to get them on a vegetarian diet would be to take a microalgae supplement (which contains DHA) or bend the rules and take fish oil or cod liver oil as a supplement.
These long chain fatty acids are found exclusively in marine alage, fish, and shellfish, so the only way to get them on a meatless diet would be to ingest a microalgae supplement. This will contain DHA or bend the rules and take fish oil or cod liver for supplementation.
If your health is suffering or in jeopardy you have to think about living to fight for your morals another day. You don’t want to sacrifice your brain and the output you can perform for superior ethics when you can help a lot by simply avoiding meat. You shouldn’t feel guilty or be chastised if you avoided meat but still took fish oils.
If you have high morals but have high nutrient deficiencies, you aren’t going to be seen as highly ethical for very long.
You need to be healthy.
If you are trying to do the best you can by making less of an impact on the environment through choosing better overall daily practices, then you are already ahead of the game. So don’t get discouraged that there are a lot of things to consider. A lot of which become grey in the idea of ethics.
If you want to practice good ethics but still want to be healthy you may want to consider bivalves.
Ethical Animals That Aren’t Sure to Be Sentient.
Bivalves are great alternatives if you want to avoid taking fish oil. Mollusks have been shown to lack pain sensors and integral areas of central nervous systems that show sentience. If you could introduce mollusks into the diet a single serving, around 3 oz., will allow you to meet your copper requirement for the entire week
They’ll give you essential nutrients that are typically associated with the nutrient deficiencies found in vegetarian and vegan diets.
Mollusks are low fat as well as calorically low. Oysters are actually higher in zinc than any other food. Around 90 calories, a 3-ounce serving of steamed, boiled or poached wild oysters carries nearly 67 milligrams of zinc, or a whopping 445 percent of the daily value.
So a serving of clams and a serving of oysters once a week would give you a hearty supply of essential nutrients while still adhering to your moral stance of a vegetarian.
A serving of each will provide nearly all the weekly requirements of
EPA & DHA long chain Omega 3 fatty acids that are necessary.
If you want to know more about your vitamin requirements check out this article here
Evolutionary biologist Diana Fleishman also agrees on this assessment of sentience for bivalves
They have been shown to lack fundamental things that distinguish animal and plant life.
Mushrooms are in a vegetarian and vegan diet but they are more classified as closer to animals. Listen to this RadioLab Podcast. Mushrooms are genetically more close to our DNA than plant DNA. So as science advances circumstances become even more grey. Until science advances we will just have to have safe assumptions about what is within the bounds of what you want ethically.
So what are some other high protein foods that will allow me to eat and get enough macronutrients as well as micronutrients while still adhering to my ethical choice
Nutrient dense vegetables
There are also protein powders that are derived from whey(milk) peas, and rice.
But if you are inactive your diet isn’t really going to aid you as much as the combination as both. You need to be exercising with some resistance training as well to have an overall healthy lifestyle.
When you are changing something so frequent, the way in which you eat, you have to understand there will be some weird exchanges and expect some different experiences. Some good and some bad. What is important is remembering the reason why you are taking this endeavor, your concerns, and weighing the pros and cons of those concerns while seeking out the facts. Additionally, informing yourself on what you need to sustain vitality and health. Seeking health professional advice is absolutely mandatory as well as needed to get blood panels and tests to make sure you are healthy. Being vegetarian doesn’t have to be difficult it can actually be quite easy, as long as you approach it without rushing and making sure you do it correctly.