As a born-and-raised vegetarian, I’ve been asked a lot interesting questions and heard some pretty strange comments about my dietary restrictions. I like to use the term veg*n when writing about both or either vegetarians and vegans. Sometimes these thoughts come from a good place and people are genuinely curious (or so I like to think!) so I try to give helpful responses when I can. Here are the top 5 most-common remarks I’ve received and what I reply back (or wish I had!):
1. How do you get your protein?
The optimal amount of protein adult women need is around 40 grams per day, and for men, around 50. This is less than what most people believe our bodies need to be healthy. Legumes, beans, lentils, and nuts offer a great source of protein for vegetarians and vegans alike. For those who eat some diary, milk, cheese, yogurt, and eggs also are protein-rich. It’s quite easy to have a glass of almond or cow milk in the morning, a lentil soup at lunch, hummus and veggies for a snack and perhaps a bean burger for dinner—to get all of your protein needs for the day.
2. Do you eat fish? Do you eat chicken?
No and no! A vegetarian does not eat meat, fish, or fowl, and a vegan also refrains from eating or using animal products, including diary, and perhaps honey and leather as well. I absolutely applaud the recent rise in flexitarian and pescetarian diets in moving towards a plant-based lifestyle, but have found that these terms sometimes confuse those who might not know the differences between them.
3. What do you eat?
What don’t I eat? A vegetarian diet has never constrained me from sampling and savoring local and international food. I studied abroad in Costa Rica for four months and the fruit and its juice was the freshest I’ve ever had. I would have lived off of mangoes if I could but the gallo pinto (rice and beans dish) was my favorite and sustained me very well. There are so many meat substitutes these days that it’s so easy to make a veg*n version of almost anything.
4. Would you eat meat if I paid you 1 million dollars?
Um no? Unless you’ve got a suitcase stashed away with the cash ready to hand over to me, when in real life would I experience this situation?
5. Can you survive without meat?
Well clearly I’m here right now and haven’t eaten meat in the twenty plus years I’ve been alive. Do I look like a hologram to you? Protein (see above), fruits, vegetables and grains have given me all the nutrients I need to thrive and live a healthy and happy life. Maybe you should try it!
What are the questions/comments you’ve heard about your diet? How do you reply? I’d love to hear!