Becoming Vegetarian is a decision people make for a variety of reasons. If you are considering a lifestyle change to vegetarian have you considered what it involves? To most people becoming vegetarian means not eating meat, but that is not the total of it.
Do you just not eat red meat or are all types of meat no longer included. What about the byproducts – milk from the red meat cows, eggs from the white meat chicken, what about seafood– do you no longer eat caviar and roe, crab and prawns? And if you stop eating all of these things, whats left to eat – fruit, vegetables, salad and nuts. How many dishes can you make out of these things and how many ways are there to ‘cook’ them?
From a taste perspective, preparation of vegetarian foods can actually be quite enjoyable. You discover herbs and spices and blends of foods that you may not normally consider. It can be quite an adventure learning about ways to cook tofu, having nachos with refried beans instead of mince sauce, or making vegetarian versions of lasagna – with soy milk and vegetarian cheeses of course.
But what about the nutrition aspect? A balanced diet includes each of the five food groups. To obtain the correct nutritional balance in your diet you need to know what you are doing as a vegetarian. Red meat is one of the greatest sources of protein (which builds your muscles) and is high in iron. How do you make sure that you obtain enough protein and iron if you remove meat from your diet.
Most people become vegetarian for at least two reasons, the health benefits and/or an ‘environmental’ stance.
Potential health benefits include things like relief from overworking the digestive system, shaking off the sluggish dazed feeling, improving their clarity of thinking and improving their body weight.
An environmental stance focuses on animal protection or consumption of a scarce resource – these people don’t want to eat animals or animal by-products from animals that have been bred and killed in an incubation-type process– their growth processes have been modified and the resulting produce is considered unnatural. They also believe that this process has been adopted because the level of consumer consumption has increased and it is necessary to ‘harvest’ these animals to feed the population. Becoming vegetarian means that they are able to ease the pressure on these resources by obtaining their dietary requirements by other methods.
In order to become vegetarian from a sustainable perspective – you really need to know what you are doing. You will need to learn how to actively create and make a balanced meal plan, how to shop for it and how to make it tasty. You will also need to know how to read supermarket labels to see exactly what is in what you are purchasing. Whilst this is important from a nutritional perspective it is also a way of ‘speaking with your wallet’ – something that would be reminiscent of a whisper individually but can be come a very load statement when lots of people’ speak with their wallets’ at once.
If your thinking about becoming a vegetarian be aware that it involves more than just removing meat from your diet. Be aware that it involves a commitment and dedication to learning about and embarking on a different lifestyle and possibly a new mind-set.