I get lots of questions about transitioning to a meat-free diet. This post will not address those.
For that, you can check out:
This post is about how to eat vegetables without losing all your friends in the process. This post is about how to be a vegetarian.*
- Don’t eat meat – I don’t care if you want to eat meat. (I really, really don’t.) But I do kind of care if you want to eat meat and still call yourself a vegetarian. You are not and you are confusing the restaurant industry about what the rest of us are willing to consume. It is because of you that when I ask for vegetarian recommendations at a restaurant that I am met with an eye roll and an offer for the fish of the day. Or the soup that “only has chicken broth in it.” I’m talking to all of you who only eat fish or only eat fish and chicken or only eat fish and chicken and that pot roast your grandmother makes and pepperoni pizza rolls when you’re drunk. Just be an omnivore. It’s ok.
- Eat vegetables – Seems straightforward enough, but you’d be surprised how many “vegetarians” survive on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, pizza, bagels and potato chips and wonder why this supposedly “healthy” diet has made them fatter. Just eat a goddamn vegetable.
- Shut up about eating vegetables – No one cares that you’re a vegetarian. No one. I know it can be a very exciting lifestyle change at first and you want everyone in the world to know how wonderful you feel and how terrible the livestock industry is and how the cow that was the burger they just ate was probably stabbed in the throat and left to bleed out on the kill floor. But they don’t want to hear it. Do you want to hear lectures about how you’re not getting enough protein as a vegetarian? About how soy will kill you? No? Then stop lecturing meat eaters about eating meat. Live and let live.
- Know where your vegetables come from – Big agriculture is destroying the planet as aggressively and irreparably as the livestock industry. Massive farm operations destroy the soil, waste billions of gallons of water, douse everything in carcinogenic pesticides and violate basic human rights to get the cheapest labor they can to harvest it all. It’s a mess. Eat locally when you can, support small operations and, most importantly, don’t think you’re better than the guy over there eating a Whopper because your meal didn’t have to die. If you trace that banana or that avocado or that quinoa back to its source, you’ll likely come away with blood on your hands just the same. It’s sad but true.
- Understand basic nutrition – There are some key nutrients that vegetarians need to keep an eye on, including: protein, iron and calcium. There are nine essential amino acids that create a complete protein. Q: Where can you find them? (A: Combine incomplete proteins in pairings such as: legume + nut, legume + grain, legume + seed.) Plant-based sources of iron aren’t readily absorbed by the body. Q: How can you enhance absorption? (A: Add citrus. Vitamin C can increase iron absorption by 20%.) Plant-based sources of calcium aren’t as bioavailable as animal dairy. Q: How can you improve calcium absorption on a vegan diet? (A: Keep an eye on your magnesium and vitamin D levels, as both are required for and enhance calcium absorption.)
- Eat chickpeas – This is just a rule.
*… and not be an asshole.