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Topic: what do you wish people told you before you became a vegetarian/vegan  (Read 35942 times)
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owalkerjillo
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« on: January 01, 2007 07:32:20 PM »

I know I personally always wished that someone just sat me down and said "stop being a sissy, you can still eat all the junk you love but it'll be about 100 times better now"

and i also wish someone had told me how exciting cooking can be. i was so scared to become a vegan because i thought I would have to cook everything for myself and never be able to eat out or with friends ever again. obviously, i was wrong haha. and now i LOVE to cook and i eat out and with friends all the time (hellooo panera med veg sandwich - hold the feta- on whole wheat bread with vegetarian black bean soup mmm mm good)

plus i wish someone had told me not to think of soy milk and fake cream cheese or veggie burgers as a REPLACEMENT for their animal counterparts but, instead, amazing and delicious foods all in themselves. once i got over expecting a fake cream cheese i really started to LOVE the tofutti version and not expecting cow's milk in my cereal has changed my life (or at least my breakfasting experience Cheesy)

plus i think that if i had been armed with the book Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World in the first few weeks of my transition it would have made convincing people that I don't just eat grass (yes, i've actually been accused of eating grass) and that vegan foods can be just as sinfully declicous as "regular" foods a whole heck of a lot easier.

so what do you guys wish people had told you or given you before you became a vegan or vegetarian? i'm curious to know Cheesy
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tamagotchi
« Reply #1 on: January 01, 2007 07:41:56 PM »

I agree with the "not thinking of soy as a replacement".  I am no longer vegan, but I still refuse to eat anything but soy margarine.  It's become one of my favorite foods.

Another thing I wish I'd been told is that when you're vegan you're hungry ALL THE TIME.  You're either full or you're hungry.  I hated that.
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letsbestill
« Reply #2 on: January 01, 2007 07:53:33 PM »

cupcakes is an awesome book. i just got vegan with a vengence for christmas.
becoming vegetarian and cooking with no animal products has really changed the way i look at foods completely, it has made me much more aware of nutrition and a balanced diet, where food comes from and its function in your body. i wish someone one had told me how interesting cooking was and how important whole foods are. you can do tons of things with grains and vegetables, its amazing. i certainly appreciate food a lot more now.  i often think about what it would have taken for be to become vegetarian sooner.

I wish someone had told me I was a hypocrite for saying i was compassionate and an animal lover. and you know what yes you can live without cheese and milkchocolate.

you know.. i hope meateaters check this board once in a while too..
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Bigmouth
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« Reply #3 on: January 01, 2007 08:16:18 PM »

Another thing I wish I'd been told is that when you're vegan you're hungry ALL THE TIME.  You're either full or you're hungry.  I hated that.
I'm vegetarian (not vegan), but I go through primarily-vegan spurts at times.  I haven't found the "hungry all the time" thing to be the case with me.  Instead, I notice that I don't feel oddly full and vaguely uncomfortable a long time after I've eaten.  When I'm eating more dairy, I'll notice that (it's a lot like the way I used to feel when I ate meat, and a big reason why I went vegetarian).  What I wish I'd been told was that I'm not overdoing it when I load my plate with three times the quantity of the meat-eaters in the room.  It took me a while to figure that out, and it's funny to dine with ravenous meat-eaters who think I'm simply eating them under the table. 

I also wish people had told me to watch out for food that looks vegetarian, but isn't--and what specific ingredients to ask about (for example, fish sauce in vegetable curries, little bits of pork in tofu dishes, or potatoes or veggies cooked with chicken stock).  Unfortunately, I still can figure out when I ate something that wasn't really vegetarian by the unpleasant gastric reaction I get within about 20 minutes (sorry if that was more than you wanted to hear, but I've heard it from other veg friends, too).

Oh yeah, and also that whole thing about "replacements."  Actually, I always thought the whole concept was a little weird.  Of course you'll be disappointed by a veggie burger if you hope it will be just like eating a beef burger. But, conversely, you're really going to disgust yourself if you think beef is really disgusting and that you're about to eat something that tastes just like it.  So you can't win with that.  And if you don't want something that resembles meat, then find a product that doesn't pretend to resemble it (mmmmm veggie burgers filled with rice and carrots and water chestnuts and mushrooms).
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Bigmouth
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« Reply #4 on: January 01, 2007 08:25:55 PM »

I've got another one.
I wish someone had told me that most restaurant employees (heck, people in general who serve food) think "vegetarian" just means "no meat that you can see."  Making sure I don't eat lard or broth is up to me and my sleuthing skills most of the time.
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daisyannissa
« Reply #5 on: January 01, 2007 09:36:59 PM »

Quote from: Bigmouth
Quote
What I wish I'd been told was that I'm not overdoing it when I load my plate with three times the quantity of the meat-eaters in the room.  It took me a while to figure that out, and it's funny to dine with ravenous meat-eaters who think I'm simply eating them under the table.  

(The actual quote thing didn't work on my browser, I don't know why)

I definitely experience that.

I also wish someone had told me (even now) how to say, in a tactful manner, why you're not eating the food with meat in it at social functions. I feel like just saying outright "I can't eat __, ___ or ___ because there's meat in it" is being picky, and not eating anything with meat in it garners strange looks, as if I think the food isn't good enough or I'm anorexic.

That was long winded.

I wish people had told me that it's easier than it looks. When I first started, it wasn't hard at all to not eat meat. Once the newness wore off, now it's second nature. Occasionally I crave a nice juicy cheeseburger, yes, but it's not within my realm of reality for me to actually eat one. It's like having a food allergy.
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« Reply #6 on: January 01, 2007 10:00:00 PM »

It's like having a food allergy.
Exactly!  At social functions, I approach it in a similar way to allergies.  I don't lie and say I have a food allergy--but when I ask about what's in the food, I just say that "I have to be careful."  It's totally true, it gets the job done in very few words, people get that I'm not just being picky, and it doesn't give out more information than people care to hear.  It works for me, anyway.

And my giant plate-o-veggies keeps me from looking like I'm avoiding food, unless there aren't many options available.  I often eat ahead of time (like Scarlett O'Hara Grin except I'll often tell people I did that, so they don't worry about me).  Depending on the situation, I'll just keep circulating or whatever so I don't call attention to the fact that I'm not chowing on the ham.  In general, I try to make it clear that I don't judge other people's plates, and that I just hope for the same courtesy in return.
« Last Edit: January 01, 2007 10:06:03 PM by Bigmouth » THIS ROCKS   Logged

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spaghetti
« Reply #7 on: January 02, 2007 09:31:13 AM »

I wish that someone had told me that a lot of omnis are generally ignorant about vegetarianism, rather than trying to be rude...I used to get really offended when people would ask things like what vegetarians eat, or how I'd get protein, etc.  Now I just welcome it as an opportunity to share info (and food!). 

I worry a little about the "like a food allergy" point of view...since I have friends with life-threatening food allergies, I'd rather just say that I'm a vegetarian, and that "anyways, I'm here for the company, not the food".  I almost always eat before I go anywhere unless I'm sure that there will be vegetarian food available. 

The other thing that I wish that I had been told was about ethnic markets...they've really helped me explore vegetarian options, and learn about the joys of "weird food".  I'm not sure that I could survive without the Japanese grocery store anymore!
I've got another one.
I wish someone had told me that most restaurant employees (heck, people in general who serve food) think "vegetarian" just means "no meat that you can see."  Making sure I don't eat lard or broth is up to me and my sleuthing skills most of the time.
And amen to the restaurant sleuthing thing...I'm still not 100% sure that I'm getting veg food when I go out, but I do my best.  (Oh, that's another thing...I do wish that someone told me that it's OK to make mistakes sometimes...it does happen.  And especially early on, the lure of familiar foods can be really strong.)

OK.  I think that's enough "wisdom" from me...peace.  Smiley
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selkie
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« Reply #8 on: January 02, 2007 09:32:50 AM »

That I didn't need a subscription to Vegetarian Times - their recipes are also 20x more complicated than they need to be. Not to mention that they recycle the recipes just about every year.
That it is easy! My family, at least the family that cares, knows that I'm obsessive about the gelatin thing. And I ask if there is meat stock in soups.
I guess I would also have liked to know that being a vegetarian does not equate maintaining a weight that I would like to be. Although I keep attempting the vegan thing in hopes of accomplishing a bit more weight loss. That was becoming far too cumbersome over the holidays with all the family meals with family who don't care or get it.
Selkie
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« Reply #9 on: January 02, 2007 03:10:28 PM »

I worry a little about the "like a food allergy" point of view...since I have friends with life-threatening food allergies, I'd rather just say that I'm a vegetarian, and that "anyways, I'm here for the company, not the food". 



And amen to the restaurant sleuthing thing...I'm still not 100% sure that I'm getting veg food when I go out, but I do my best.  (Oh, that's another thing...I do wish that someone told me that it's OK to make mistakes sometimes...it does happen. 
I wouldn't ever compare it to a food allergy of the life-threatening kind (like a former coworker who had to leave in an ambulance after she helped a kid spread a little Jif on his sandwich), but I really do have a strong sensitivity to meat and meat products.  I always know if something I ate wasn't vegetarian, usually about 20 minutes later when I'm doubled over the toilet with stomach cramps and a cold sweat.  (Sorry for the ugly image, but I really do have to be careful!)  Depending on the food, I can feel gross for hours or even days.  My parents now insist that I was born vegetarian, since I often had trouble eating meat as a little kid, so maybe there's something more to that.

And amen to the Vegetarian Times thing.  That was a waste of aspiration and shelf space.  I found a couple great recipes in one of their books, but the magazine didn't help me a bit.
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