I was a vegetarian for a couple years, a couple years ago. It started when I was doing some grad work at Penn State in Elementary Education (which didn’t quite pan out for me). I was doing a hundred book reports on all sorts of children’s books when I stumbled across a book that changed my life, oddly enough. (I’ll have to poke around the Paterno Library and figure out what this book was called some day.)
It was a book targeted at teens or even younger, who wanted to educate themselves about being a vegetarian in order to allay any fears their parents might have about it. It offered solutions to counter pretty much any objection a parent might have, from how you would be able to co-exist with non vegetarians in your house, to health concerns.
I read this book just sort of randomly (we had to do SO many reports for Children’s Lit that I wasn’t took picky about what books I’d grab) but it really opened my eyes about vegetarianism. It seemed really healthy, and it seemed doable. So I gave it a shot.
When I lived in Ireland I had a roommate who was a vegetarian and it always amazed me how he was able to cook these really creative foods without having to use meat. But I really didn’t think it was for me. But I was doing it. I started out slowly, easing out of certain foods. Eventually I was full blown vegetarian. No red meat, no chicken, no fish. And I felt great.
That lasted for a while. Why did it end?
I began dating Kyli who was not vegetarian. And once you’re in a relationship and going out to eat a lot more than you might do if you’re single, you find that eating out sucks balls when you’re limited to perhaps one or two items on an entire menu (if that). We once went to a really fancy dinner put on the the campus Hotel and Restaurant Management department, where the groups had to plan out every course. I swear, everything from the salad to the dessert seemed to have bacon in it. I ate around it, but I was really beginning to get frustrated. Not long after that I was in Baltimore visiting my sister and we went out to Joe’s Crab Shack and I made the decision that I was going to just accept fish as part of my diet.
Kylene assured me this was just the first step into becoming a full-out meat eater and I guess she was right (although I never did end up eating babies like she said I’d eventually be doing). I slowly descended to the point where I am now, where stopping at McDonald’s on the way home from work doesn’t even make me flinch. I don’t think that’s exactly a good thing.
I don’t feel bad or anything. I didn’t gain like a billion pounds. I pretty much stayed a consistent weight. I think I felt healthier as a vegetarian, but that might have been in my head. You just cannot feel healthy after consuming anything from a fast food place. But have anything made with tofu or soy and you’ll feel like you just ran 10 miles.
I might do it though. I might try to start cutting back towards vegetarianism again. I dunno if I can go full out or not. But even just having a few vegetarian meals a week, or packing your lunch that way can be a good start. If only mainstream restaurants were more accommodating, it would make things so much easier.
I think it depends alot on where you live, too. For instance in Durham, where I’m living now, almost all the restaurants have good vegetarian dishes. When I’m travelling they can be harder to find. Also, the fancier/more expensive the restaurant, the worse their veggie dishes seem to be. Luckily, I’m too cheap to eat at them anyway.
Health factor is really a state of mind.. yes if your eating greasy and fatty entrees at fast food places your going to feel like crap but eating lean meats like turkey and buffalo you dont get that effect. Part of it is physiology but the other part is psychological.. for the most part people view salads as a ‘diet’ food so I think it goes hand in hand with eating nothing but vegatables giving an impression of healthy eating. A healthy lifestyle involves many facets not just diet anyways.