Since I’ve been a meat eater all my life, I am well aware of the misconceptions people have about vegetarians/vegans and the criticisms they receive. They are the minorities of the food world. I would like to address some of the things meat eaters say/think about vegans, not only to help myself to overcome the questions, criticisms and weird looks, but also to expel some of the negativity towards the vegan lifestyle. Again, I am NOT a vegan but feel the need to support of what I think is a highly respectable lifestyle.
I won’t lie. When I first thought of vegans, I would picture smelly hippies with long, scraggly hair imbedded under a Bob Marley hat with colorful beads around their necks. And I guess some of them are. But the truth is, people have many reasons for choosing veganism. Thinking of a vegan as just another hippie is the same as any other racist, cultural or gender stereotype. It’s just another form of prejudice and judgment.
Many people turn a blind eye to the cruelties inflicted on innocent animals. They either don’t care, don’t know, or don’t want to know what is happening in slaughterhouses every single day. It is disgsuting. I am not striving to someday be the poster child for veganism but I do wish I could show everyone a few PETA videos and then see how they feel about their hamburgers. It makes me sick and I know it makes others sick. But they continue to eat meat. Why?
Many people claim meat is meant to be a part of the human diet and that animals were put on earth for us. Really? What makes us so special? I can’t believe that people are this self centered!! Were the trees put here for us to tear down too? Where does it end?
I will agree that animal meat does provide some nutrients not found in other foods (like B vitamins), but this is 2012 and there are many ways to supplement these vitamins and minerals. Most people are lacking in nutrients such as vitamin D or C, but they don’t seem to notice or care. Taking a multivitamin can be helpful in many ways.
Sometimes I worry that I won’t get enough protein without meat because I weight train and require about twice as much protein as a normal person. But the truth is, a normal person only needs about 50 grams, so most people have no room to complain! Fifty grams is so easy to get, even if all you eat is salad!! Veggies have about 3-5 grams of protein per cup on average, with broccoli, peas, French beans and cooked spinach being about 2-3 times that amount. I made a stir fry yesterday and out of curiosity, I measured my veggies after I cut them up, right before I cooked them. Without even trying to eat that much, I was making 6 cups of veggies. That is somewhere between 18 and 30 grams of protein. So I’d be about halfway to my daily total with just that one veggie stir fry meal. I could’ve mixed in some quinoa and probably almost made my daily quota. There are so many options, including brown rice, whole wheat bread, oatmeal, tofu, soy milk, seitan, almonds, peanut butter and beans. Oh and P.S. these foods are amazingly nutritious too!
Of course, non-vegans can also enjoy dairy products such as milk, yogurt and cheese, all of which provide adequate protein as well.
People claim they can’t be vegan because they don’t want to live on salad. I was one of these people! I like veggies but not enough to ONLY eat them. But then I realized how many amazing foods are out there. There are so many vegetables and fruits. I sometimes hide lots of veggies in a smoothie if I am just not in the mood to eat them. I also play around with soups and stir frys, which are some of my favorite foods to eat. I don’t need to add meat. At first, I felt as if something was missing. But I realized that was more about habit than taste. I am also experimenting with grains I have never eaten. Also, these days, vegetarian restaurants are all the rage, especially where I live. My favorite restaurants are Indian and Ethiopian anyway, and thankfully, they both offer an abundance of vegetarian options.
Today I had an amazing vegetarian burger. It was a big old grilled portabella mushroom loaded up with lettuce, tomato and onions. It tasted better than a real burger and with all the standard toppings, I could hardly tell I was eating a big vegetable. Afterwards, I felt so much more energized than if I’d eaten an old fashioned beef burger, which in the past always left me feeling heavy and tired.
A big concern I had was not having enough energy or feeling deprived. But from reading about veganism, it seems like a lot of people have ENDLESS energy when they cut out meats and incorporate more energizing fruits and veggies. I am finding this to be true as well. After all, these are foods that came from the ground and from trees…grown with good old sunshine and water. They are earthy, colorful and vibrant. They are also natural and delicious. Fruits and veggies have an abundance of nutrients that our bodies need to function and their water content helps ensure you will stay hydrated instead of hungry.
After all this, would you still rather eat a processed burger?! If so, keep reading as I move along on my journey. 🙂