Someone I know became veggie and asked me for help (I like to think because I’m full of sage advice – and not because I was the only person available, and anyway the “sage” thing sounds better so let’s go with that. FYI sage is great with pumpkins…). He was having a hard time with the meat-free part of being meat-free, and asked how I did it. Answer: I went veggie overnight – had a serious crash after three weeks – awoke in a daze days later, my bedroom floor littered with BLT sandwich and cheeseburger wrappers. Glad I didn’t wake up with a bacon tattoo. Living in Camden it could actually have happened.
Anyway…Here’s what I wish I’d known:
People will take an intense interest in your health and protein consumption: People that didn’t care about your junk-food consumption and fizzy pop addiction before will care passionately now. They’ll probably have an intervention. Mostly about your protein intake. You need to do your research so you can politely explain how they can mind their own business, and when that fails, where you’ll get your protein from, and how you plan to not be so vitamin and mineral deficient you end up dead – because it will turn out they all know someone who went veggie and nearly died.
People you meet will say things like ‘Vegetarian? But you’re so normal!’ And you’ll be like, ‘just give it a minute, we’ve just met, and I’m trying to assess how much crazy you can handle’. This happens to me more than it probably should. I understand it’s because we’re meant to be crazy tree-huggers.
Other veggie-types can be really judgy: ‘You still eat eggs?’, ‘don’t you know honey is bee puke?’, ‘Oh you’re still only veggie? I became vegan 3 days after becoming veggie’, ‘I don’t eat anything that needs water in fact- I am sooo vegetarian, I won’t even visit any town with ham in its name’.
It’s better to transition: Much better to transition and research your new diet. Learn about nutrition and your diets myths and legends (because there are hundreds), and get your body used to functioning without a food group. Actually this is good practice for any diet.
There’s animal products in surprising things: E.g. in yogurts, chocolates and sweets. Always read the label.
People will think it’s a phase. 13 years later. Sigh.
Don’t assume you’ll be healthier cos you cut out meat: Triple cheese pizzas, double cheese pizzas, cheese pizzas with extra cheese, chocolates, merlot, doughnuts…and then you realise the corner shop sells vegetarian cola bottles and you think screw it, I already ate two packs of wine gums (what cola bottles?), it stands to reason that I eat the Ben & Jerry’s in the freezer, and then one month later, you vaguely remember something about healthy eating, swear you’ll pick it up tomorrow, but you have to go by that damn shop to get to the market and you’re really only going in to support local businesses and the economy…sooo…it’s just what it is.
There’s different types of vegetarians: Vegetarians eat no meat, poultry or fish/seafood, but eat animal products (milk, cheese, eggs etc…). Pescetarians eat no meat or chicken but eat fish/seafood and animal products. Vegans don’t eat anything that comes from or used to be an animal (including honey). There’s also veggies who don’t eat eggs but eat dairy, veggies who eat dairy but no eggs, fruitarians, flexitarians and Google for when you’re head feels like it’s going to explode.
Some carnivore friends will think you’re plotting against them (it can’t just be my friends): ‘We’ll never give in!’ They’ll declare loudly when invited to dinner, then huddle together at one end of the table and view the food you give them suspiciously. As if we’re part of a secret veggie cult, with chanting and shrines where we sacrifice meat-eaters to the mighty Tofu-God to punish them for their bacon eating. We will take back what’s rightfully ours! We will make them rue the day they tasted bacon! We must stand together for the good of Asgaaaar-…I mean…pfft, whatever, I don’t even know anymore.
People are really weird about bacon: No meat or seafood? Ok. No eggs? Fine. What about bacon? Seriously, what about bacon? No, bacon? For real? Even bacon? I said bacon. No, I don’t think you’re understanding me, BACON like B-A-C…