The truth about vegetarians
Being vegetarian was never a decision I made. I was born to vegetarian parents who were born to my vegetarian grandparents, who were born to my vegetarian great-grandparents. I’ll be honest and say that I’m curious about what meat tastes like. Sometimes being vegetarian seems like it hinders my culinary options. I’ll never be able to taste true French cuisine or enjoy authentic sushi. Other times being vegetarian seems like a blessing, especially when the steak tips on a friend’s dinner plate in Dewick seem to be such a deep shade of red that it looks as if they are going to sprout legs at any moment and walk off the table. I have never questioned being a vegetarian but plenty of other people have questioned it for me. I’ve been bombarded with all kinds of questions; most of which are pretty simple to answer. “Do you eat lobster? What about chicken? Turkey? How do you survive without bacon? You HAVE to have had tried a hamburger at least once, right?” The idea that I have never willingly or knowingly consumed animal flesh seems to boggle people even though vegetarianism is becoming an increasingly popular trend. There are still many people out there that have the wrong idea of what it means to be a vegetarian.
Vegetarians get a bad rap from both the meat eaters and the vegans. We are not some group of tree-hugging, PETA-loving, hippie extremists that are out to convert all meat eaters to our animal-free cult. We are also not the baby chick killers or milk deprivers that vegans see us as. Most of us couldn’t care less that the people around us are ingesting meat. They made the choice to eat chicken, pork, beef, or whatever other kind of meat, just as we made the decision not to. Most vegetarians don’t look down on meat eaters and they especially don’t want to convert everyone to vegetarianism. Those people handing out pamphlets, harassing you to cut down on your meat intake, and thrusting pictures of suffering animals in your face aren’t indicative of the vegetarian norm.
One of the major misconceptions out there about vegetarianism is the idea that vegetarians don’t get enough protein. There are plenty of places to get protein from plant products like lentils, beans, split peas, wheat, brown rice, eggplant, kale, lettuce, mushrooms, spinach, nuts, and watermelon (for a full list visit this page). In fact, having too much protein in your diet isn’t necessarily a good thing. It can lead to cancers, heart disease, obesity, and a shorter life expectancy.
So, next time you walk into a restaurant or one of the dining halls, don’t skip the vegetarian counter or section of a menu. Sometimes the tofu is dicey and the vegetables sound downright odd but you never know, you might really like something that vegetarian cuisine has to offer.