Facing Your Food
How to Survive
Have you been thinking about becoming a vegetarian or vegan but don't know how you will survive in a meat-eating world? Unless some of your friends and family are vegetarian, getting started can be challenging. There are a few things that you can do to make it easier to survive.
Helping with Dinner
Do you do the grocery shopping and cooking or does someone else?
- If you shop and cook, your effort towards becoming vegetarian just got easier. There are beaucoup (many) cookbooks, websites, and videos full of help. Check out recipes on this site.
- If you start helping the cook in your home prepare meals, you can explain what you do and do not want included in your meals. Part of acceptance of another person's life choices is understanding it. Showing while helping is a good start.
- Meat substitutes are great during the transition period. many of the favorite recipes you use right now can be made with faux meat products from your local grocery store. If your store doesn't carry them, ask them to.
Making it Work
Resistance at Home
What if you have parents or a spouse who insists you eat meat? You may find yourself in a situation where someone who controls what you eat can't be convinced that becoming a vegetarian is a good choice for you. What do you do?
- Put some literature around the house (books, flyers, website info.). Encourage your family members to look at it.
- Invite a vegetarian friend to your house for lunch or dinner. Find one that you think your family will like. Sometimes parents or spouses will listen to comments and explanations made by an outsider. Just advise your friend that he/she needs to get your back.
- If insisting on eating the way you choose isn't an option at home, then accept your situation in the presence of the other person, then, load up on the good stuff (vegetables) and decrease the bad stuff (meat).
Most Vegans Understand This Rant
Be a Man! Eat Your Veggies!
JUST LET ME EAT!!
Do you often eat out with friends and business associates? How do you tell your meat-strong dinner friends/associates that you have changed your diet without having to explain your choices? Rather than cause a scene or feel embarrassed by asking a waitress to alter the menu choices, sometimes new vegetarians fudge, and that's okay.
- If you find yourself in a difficult situation, do what you have to. Then, get back on track. This, too, shall pass.
- You will probably fall off the wagon at some point (pepperoni pizza, dinner with in-laws). After a few vegetarian/vegan months under your belt, sticking to it won't be so difficult.
- Whenever possible, choose restaurants with options for you. You can look at menus online. ("Hey, why don't we try that new Italian restaurant?")
- When you become vegetarian, someone is sure to ask, "Why aren't you eating meat?" To avoid an in depth discussion, again, respond with a simple answer, like, "I'm trying to eat healthier, to include more vegetables in my meals."
Will you be able to eat with your friends when they invite you to their house or when you go to a pot luck?
- Because you don't know what ingredients are in the foods being presented, your best option is to bring vegetarian food that you like eating. There will probably be a few items that you recognize as being vegetarian, so concentrate on those and the food that you brought.
- At a sit-down dinner party you might want to tell the hosts in advance that you've changed your eating habits to exclude meat. Do this when you accept the invitation. If you wait until you arrive at their home to tell them, they very likely will be offended. After all, they have already gone to a lot of expense and trouble to prepare the dinner.
- Be sure to tell your hosts how much you are looking forward to attending. Let them know that you don't expect them to go to any extra trouble on your behalf.
- If you end up eating something not part of your new diet, just accept that a mistake happened. Remind yourself that you are still vegetarian. Once, thirty years ago, shortly after I became vegetarian, I was very hungry and the only thing to eat was a hamburger, so I got one. As I was eating it a co-worker came in and said, "I thought you were vegetarian." I looked at her, as I ate, and said, "I am." In my head I was still vegetarian. One wrong step doesn't change who or what you are.
Good Airport Fast Food Option
Pack Trail Mix
Pack a Lunch
One of the hardest parts of traveling is that you are removed from your daily routine. Your food options change. Prepare for this as best you can.
- No matter what means of transportation you choose, pack something healthy, like nuts, carrot sticks, trail mix, and fruit, fresh or dried. This should help you get through the "no good options" times.
- Be observant. If in an airport, look at the food options as you walk past them. Take a mental note of where you can get vegetarian food, if you need to.
- There are even fast food and chain restaurants that carry vegetarian food. Taco Bell is one and Panera's is another. Pack a lunch or plan your route to include the restaurants where you would like to stop.
- Traveling to someone's home can bring even more challenges. Your hosts should know in advance that you are vegetarian and what that means. Many people still won't get what that means. I have learned to tell my sister, "Do not prepare any food just for me." When I arrive, I go to the grocery store with her to choose my food, and I pay for it. You don't want someone making something special for you that you will not eat.
- Business trips can be challenging, too. I remember one trip where I had very few food options. Be prepared! We live in a meat-centric society.
Grilled Veggie Burger with Onions & Mushrooms
Grilled Vegan Italian Sausage
Is it possible without meat? So often people will say, “I can’t be vegetarian because I love barbecuing (or going to barbecues).” Will my friends come to a vegetarian or vegan barbecue? Will they stop inviting me? We’re talking about our social life here—the part that we love!
- Bring your own vegetarian hot dogs and hamburgers, enough for you. Bring foil to put on the grill or ask the host if yours can be grilled first. For other types of meats being grilled bring some hefty vegetarian sausages or chicken strips and barbecue sauce. Volunteer to help grill their burgers to show you are still part of the group, until they get used to your new lifestyle.
- At your house your guests should expect to eat what you prepare, so try several items in advance to see what you think the crowd will love. If they went to a home where the family avoids pork, they wouldn’t expect to find roasted pig. So, at your house they'll get veggie food. Corn and skewered veggies are a nice touch along with your faux meats.
- Always bring or have plenty of sides you can eat and for your guests.
- Here are some of the comments we’ve received: “It was so nice of your wife to have hot dogs for us, since she’s vegan.” My husband’s response, “That’s not meat.” Also, “I know this meatloaf is not made with meat, but it’s the best meatloaf I’ve ever eaten.” And, “You had to use cheese in these stuffed shells for them to taste so good.” They were stuffed with tofu, seasoning, and vegan mayonnaise. Test a few recipes before sharing with friends, and you’ll get great responses, too.
Reasons to Not Go Vegan
Becoming a vegetarian can be challenging. Old temptations draw you in. Remember, if you eat something off target once a month or even once a week, you can still consider yourself a vegetarian. Like smoking, to fully escape the old meat habits, you have to stop eating meat at some point. Rest assured, you will love your new way of eating as much as you did the old, once you get used to it. Someday you'll smell meat cooking and think, "That smells disgusting."
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.