What No One Tells You When You Go Vegetarian
And no, this isn’t about gas.
Reasons Why (Albeit not 13)
Anyone who decides to step over to the green side has that pivotal moment that got the gears turning in order for them to take that leap. In a quarter-life crisis where I dated anyone who would give me attention in a Tinder-heavy era (which I now realize was less a quarter-life crisis, and more just known as “being in your 20s”), I ended up in a mini-relationship with someone who was vegan. Of course, I knew what a vegan was, I had a vegan friend after all, and never had any judgment toward vegans; however, upon our first meeting and date we went to a restaurant where there were both carnivorous and herbivorous options, and being the awkward person I was, I straight up ordered chicken in mine. We immediately began to have a conversation about this, and seeing as how he paid for my meal I felt extremely guilty having ordered what I did. Upon getting to know this person more in the following weeks and obsessively researching and watching documentaries, I ended up going vegan, cold-turkey. The guy and I never became more than a fling, but we remain acquaintances (if that’s what it means when you stay friends on Facebook and Instagram after relations), and I’ll always recognize that time in my life with that person as the reason I went vegan.
But wait, there’s more!
Coming out vegan to family and friends can be extremely difficult, especially if your family is not particularly open-minded. It’s honestly why I never went vegan sooner. I tried to be a vegetarian many moons ago in the angsty years of my adolescence but failed at it between the lack of support and the lack of nutrients because I was not doing it correctly back then. To be honest, I’m not entirely vegan now because, as with all bad habits, about a year into becoming vegan I started eating meat again for selfish and inconvenient reasons, mostly stemming from the constant questions from family and I still don’t think I was getting all of the proper nutrients (I became depressed and feeling unhealthy). But months after that I rededicated myself to not eating meat, vowing to be a strict vegetarian and cook and eat vegan at home or when out wherever it allows. Being the family-oriented person I am, being vegetarian versus being vegan has allowed me to not feel completely shunned at a time in my life where it’s important to me to feel included and not excluded by family, and sort of working my way back in with my ideals has opened my family’s eyes a little more, to the point that they now make sure if I’m coming over, all the sides are vegetarian friendly and we keep alternatives and substitutes on deck for these occasions as well. It’s no secret that family meals are a huge part of culture in American society, and having my family come around to the vegetarian idea more and more has definitely been a satisfying experience. Not to mention, I don’t feel the guilt that I once did about succumbing to family ideals about food just because they thought I was being weird. Don’t get me wrong, they still think this is just a diet or a phase for me, but I’m sure before long they’ll get the hint.
My child, however..
My son is almost 7 years old and he is not easily swayed by veggie dogs or other substitutes. There are a few I can count on one hand that he will eat and does not question, but to be honest I’m not a fan of substitutes a lot of the time anyway. He wasn’t raised a vegetarian and his dad (who I am not with) certainly is not going to feed him based off of my dietary and moral beliefs. So what am I to do? For now if I can’t convince him to eat what I’m eating, luckily those family members who do eat meat are around with more than enough for him to have. I feel far less guilty that way, but that’s not to say that I haven’t had to spring for happy meals or “normal” hot dogs for him in a pinch, because after all, I am a single mom of a young kid. Trying to do my best, ya know.
What I can tell you:
You have to do what’s right for yourself. Your body, your finances, your kids, your conscience. If you can go full-blown vegan, more power to you. I truly hope to bypass all the issues in the near future and go back to veganism in full whether my family likes it or not. I’m very fortunate that my boyfriend is a well-rounded eater and likes to attempt being healthy so I do have that support. Either way, just remember that it’s your life and you have to live with the consequences of what you put into your body, whether it be the health consequences or the mental ones. Not caring what anybody thinks is much easier said than done, but at the end of the day what matters is what you think.