Vegetarianism is not a fad. Sure, for some it may be, but most people commonly venture into it for health reasons. My journey started as an advocacy for animal welfare, when I witnessed first-hand how cows and chickens are bred and processed into our dinner while working as a journalist. Since then, the ethics of endangering sentient beings remain as a daily reminder of my decision.
Eating became an interesting project and as I wanted to obtain all my nutrients (especially Vitamin B) from natural sources instead of popping pills, scrutinizing food labels and nitpicking ingredients. But the most interesting thing about being a vegetarian has to be the myriad of questions being asked, out of which I have highlighted 12 common ones I get all the time:
1. What do you eat?
Most people think that my food options are fairly limited as a vegetarian. At home, I eat a variety of stir fry veggies, moderate amounts of tofu, quinoa, eggs and lentils. Greek yogurt with homemade granola mix is my favorite snack and is full of amazing protein and probiotics. When I eat out, I usually opt for Indian food (it's usually vegetarian-friendly and I love my spices), fresh salads or vegetarian brunch plates. As of late, many cafes do offer vegetarian dishes on their menus, so a handy tip is to check out the menus online first, if possible, so you know what to expect.
2. Do you eat eggs?
Yes I do! Can’t say ‘no’ to my favorite bowl of soft-boiled eggs with a dash of pepper and soy sauce. :)
3. How can you live without bacon?
Sure, the world is crazy over these strips of fat, but I wouldn’t particularly say I miss bacon-infused ice cream.
4. Where do you get your protein from?
Ah, the million dollar question. I still eat eggs and I swap white rice with quinoa for complete protein. Soy is taken in moderation because we know too much of anything may not be ideal. Read this amazing guide for more vegetarian protein options.
5. I always wanted to be a vegetarian, was it difficult to start?
Not really as I was already eating mostly vegetables and the occasional meat. However, it could be a challenge if you’re a heavy meat eater from the start. Not to worry! You can slowly transition from not eating meat one day a week to a few days monthly, then completely cutting it out.
6. So you must eat salads most of the time, isn’t it boring?
I actually rarely eat salads unless I’m at a restaurant, for convenience sake. And have you had salad with quinoa, berries, roasted pumpkin, loads of spinach and rocket leaves, seeds and nuts with herb dressing? If you haven’t, trust me, it will change your mind about salads.
7. You eat fish right? Fish isn’t meat. How about shrimps? Crabs?
Fish IS meat. In fact, more than 90% of fisheries are fully exploited and overfished today. Personally, I am allergic to seafood but even if I weren’t, it still wouldn’t be my choice of protein. However, if you prefer including fish in your diet, you can consider checking seafoodwatch.org to get recommendations on sustainable seafood.
8. How about plants? You’re killing plants too right?
Picking an apple off a tree is not the same as stripping meat off an animal. In fact, animals that are bred for consumption are usually fed a diet of corn, oats or soy; which means billions of plants are harvested every year to feed us.
9. Can I eat meat in front of you?
Sure, why not? As long as you’re not adamantly suggesting that I should eat it too. Going vegetarian is a choice we make and it shouldn’t be used as a way of judging how others eat.
10. Will your kids be vegetarian too?
I will do my best to educate them but ultimately it’s their life, their choice. It wouldn’t be right to force it upon my kids if they don’t feel the same conviction.
11. Do you drink alcohol?
Actually, alcohol is vegetarian. Beer is made of wheat and wine from grapes.
12. What if you are trapped on an island and the only thing you can eat is an animal?
Wow, tough question. To be honest, it depends on my chances of survival. For me, health always comes first, especially now that I am a vegetarian and need to ensure that my diet supports my active lifestyle. I would probably scout the island for edible plants, fruits or even… bugs!