Hacks like the ones you’ll find on this page were certainly something I wish I had with my first experience with being vegetarian. This was in 1998 in Pittsburgh at the East End Food Co-op where I was employed as a dishwasher. It was an easy decision to make at the time since I was surrounded by yummy veggie food while I was at work. I was able to take home a lot of leftovers and had a store discount.
However, once I ventured away from my safe area it was very difficult to find food I could eat. It is easier now than what it was 20 years ago, but not easy enough. While it is becoming more sociably acceptable and easier to find the right food, it is still a challenge.
Reasons for being Vegetarian
Some popular reasons for being a vegetarian are
- Weight loss
- Slow the aging process
- Just simply not wanting to eat meat
Vegetarians appear to have lower cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure and lower rates of hypertension and type 2 diabetes than meat-eaters. Vegetarians also tend to have a lower body mass index, lower overall cancer rates and lower risk of chronic disease.
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, an evidence-based review showed that a vegetarian diet is associated with a lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease. Vegetarians appear to have lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure and lower rates of hypertension and type 2 diabetes than meat-eaters. Vegetarians also tend to have a lower body mass index, lower overall cancer rates and lower risk of chronic disease.
Common mistakes of a vegetarian diet include a:
- reliance on cheese & eggs for protein
- reliance on processed soy products for protein
- focus on obtaining protein while ignoring other nutrients that can be deficient in a vegetarian or vegan diet
- reliance on processed food
- limited range of foods being eaten over and over
Effect on the planet
Animal agriculture is extremely destructive to the planet. It is the single largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and is a leading cause of land and water use, deforestation, wildlife destruction, and species extinction. About 2,000 gallons of water are needed to produce just one pound of beef in the U.S. Our oceans are rapidly becoming depleted of fish; by some estimates, oceans may be fishless by 2048. The current food system, based on meat and dairy production, also contributes to world hunger—the majority of crops grown worldwide go toward feeding livestock, not feeding people.
Equally important, animals raised for food are sentient beings who suffer, whether raised in industrial factory farms or in farms labeled “humane.” Eating a plant-based diet helps us lead a more compassionate life. After all, being healthy is not just about the food we eat; it’s also about our consciousness—our awareness of how our choices affect the planet and all of those with whom we share it.
Difficulties of being Vegetarian
“The dominant social-cultural norm in the West is meat consumption,” said Hanna Schösler, a researcher in the Institute for Environmental Studies at Vrije University in Amsterdam, who has studied consumer acceptance of meat substitutes. “The people who want to shift to a more vegetarian diet find they face physical constraints and mental constraints. It’s not very accepted in our society not to eat meat.”
Finding food is usually the biggest difficulties Vegetarians face. While it is not as difficult as finding vegan food, it can still be annoying. Convenience stores are anything but convenient. Social pressures from friends and family are another constant struggle. Restaurants that your friends might like to frequent may not have anything you can eat at all. This is where these tips can help.