I have been following a vegetarian diet for almost five years now, and I still get the same questions from my friends or family who do not follow any type of vegetarian or vegan diet.
To clarify for those who do not know the difference, a vegetarian diet consists of not consuming any type of meat, and a vegan diet is not consuming any type of animal product at all, including dairy, eggs or honey.
Since becoming a vegetarian, I have found myself feeling healthier and more energetic than when I did eat meat. Personally, I have not found being a vegetarian difficult at all, and I have no problem being informative on my diet. The problem is when people start trying to tell me that I am not eating in the right way, or that I am not getting enough protein because someone’s eating habits should never be commented on.
Some people have genuine concern, and some people just don’t know there are many other protein alternatives available. What I have found when discussing this topic is that the questions are usually always prompted in a way that is trying to imply that my eating habits are bad, or that I am not doing it in a healthy way. The most common question I get is “Where do you get your protein, and are you sure you are getting enough of it?” This question is incredibly irritating and degrading.
I find ways to implement protein into my diet through multiple foods, such as beans, quinoa, broccoli, potatoes and spinach. The list could go on. And the answer to whether I get enough protein is yes. There are many alternative ways to get protein other than consuming meat, and after following the diet for a long period of time, I have made sure I get all the required nutrients.
Another common question I get is “What do you even eat then, do you just eat salad?” There are plenty of foods that are made without meat, and almost any meal that does include meat can either be ordered without the meat product, or made with a meat alternative. It is also really nice that there are so many different types of food alternatives for people who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet. MorningStar is a well-known brand that makes meat alternative items, including veggie burgers, veggie bacon and meatless versions of chicken and steak.
Being a vegetarian is not something I typically bring up unless it is prompted, and I have no problem talking about it as long as I am not being criticized for my eating habits. There are ways to want to learn more about different diets and ask questions without trying to convince people that the diet they are following should be questioned in a way that is not helpful. There is always room to learn and always new ways to be cautious on how we are asking and talking to people about certain subjects. Be gentle when discussing someone’s lifestyle just because you don’t understand it.