I’ve been thinking about becoming vegetarian just lately. My boyfriend has been vegetarian for years, and says that once you stop eating meat your health improves, and you never want to go back to eating meat again.
Do you have any opinions on if this is a good thing or not, and what are the dangers, if any?
Certainly wasn’t true in my case, I managed about 9 months (I think), towards the end of it my dreams and consisted of nothing other than roast chickens; a considerable portion of my waking thoughts too, but I didn’t want to be a vegetarian, I merely thought I ought to.
If you really want to do it, do it, but don’t let anyone else make the decision for you or you will be miserable.
Agreed. If you are doing it because you want to do it then you don’t miss meat, because it’s something you feel strongly about and you make a commitment to it. I have alot of friends who are talked into trying it by other people and quit after a month. It takes work and dedication, and regardless of what others say, you cannot replace meat. You can give it up because you feel it’s the right thing for you to do, but if you love it then you’ll always miss it.
Don’t let your boyfriend talk you into doing this unless it’s something you genuinely want to succeed at. If you do decide to try it, do some research and decide what you are going to give up. Meat, chicken, fish, eggs, gelatin? After that, check out one of the many sites available that can tell you about extra nutritional needs and non-kosher ingredients.
Joyfulgirl (Veggie for 7 years, Vegan for 2)
I’ve never regretted becoming a vegetarian, it’s something I chose to do nearly 22 years ago. Recently I’ve also given up dairy products because they aggravate my eczema and I’m having fun playing with alternatives!
A good 'net search will give you plenty of information on what makes a good vegetarian diet and you should have no problem finding out all you need (or want) to know.
I would certainly agree with other posters that becoming a veggie is something you should do for yourself and not because someone tells you to do it. Why not just give it a try for a while and see how you like it? My dearest beloved isn’t a veggie and would never consider giving up meat, and I would never ask him to do that just as he’d never ask me to give up being a veggie. His only problem is with brocolli because he reckons that’s an evil consipracy for global domination by the sprout family.
Is your boyfriend a good cook? If so, howzabout getting him to cook for you for awhile? If you have someone experienced in making complete vegetarian meals, you might have an easier time of going vegetarian. I think a lot of people try to go veg by cooking meat-centered meals without the meat, and that just ain’t gonna work.
Consider the option of going gradually vegetarian also: eating less meat, and cutting out certain types of meat. This might be easier, as you get used to centering meals around foods other than meat.
Obviously, doing it just to please your boyfriend is probably gonna fail; but if you’re curious, it sure won’t hurt you to try it out.
There are plenty of good veg cookbooks out there; the Moosewood is one of the most popular, and is worth checking out.
It’s been my experience that being vegetarian really gets you into the habit of checking labels and ingredients, and trying new and different foods, which can be a good thing.
Although I do agree with DanielWithrow on that you could gradually eat less and less meat if you wanted. There is no hard and fast rule that once you decide you are vegetarian, that a bit of meat here and there is ‘bad’.
Do it only if you want to. I gave up meat on my own and feel no cravings for it, but if I’d felt like I “should” or “had to” go veg, I probably would regret it.
My husband loves meat, but he also loves how I cook. I make meat for him, but will make vegetarian dishes for both of us as well, and he has been surprised to discover that he likes salads.
I also agree with the others who have said that eating vegetarian can also lead to you trying new cuisines and dishes that you might not have considered before.
Any “dangers” depend on how good of a cook you or your boyfriend is. It is quite possible to eat an unhealthful vegetarian diet - you could easily eat too much fat and cholesterol if you overcompensate with dairy and eggs. You could also eat vegetarian junk food and miss out on vital nutrients - potato chips and soda are “veg” after all.
Here’s a link to the American Dietetic Association’s 1997 position paper on vegetarian diets, plus a food pyramid for vegetarians. Other than some mild cautions about being sure to get all your vitamins and minerals, they praise various benefits of such a diet.
Try it for a month. Even if you don’t ultimately end up vegetarian, it’ll be good to know that you can and it’s always a good exersize to try something new and shake yourself out of your habits for a while.
I know people that have tried going veg for a month and never looked back. Judgeing from these posts, it must be different for each person. When I stopped eating meat it was the easiest thing in the world. I hardly even noticed- my lifestyle certainly didn’t change much and I never missed meat. For me, a new pair of shoes would be a bigger and more traumatic change that going veg.
IANAD but I was told (and read) that the “vegan/veggy diet is healthier” mantra held by vegan or vegetarians is a myth. That if you eat everything in moderation its every bit as healthy as a no-meat diet.
I started eating a strict vegetarian diet a few months ago for health reasons, namely, I decided it was time to lose the hundred or so extra pounds I was carrying around.
My thought is this… if you don’t really want to be a vegetarian for any particular reason, you won’t stick with it. I don’t have any problems not eating meat or eggs or dairy products on a regular basis, because my desire to be healthy far outweighs (rimshot) my desire to eat a cheeseburger. That having been said, I’m not obsessive about it, that is if I really want a piece of salmon or a bite of pizza, I don’t deny it to myself. I figure, if I’m craving something, eating a little bit of that thing–no matter what it is–is far less damaging than denying myself and eating way too much of something less desirable in an effort to ignore the craving. Just cutting most non-veg foods will help, it’s not nearly an all-or-nothing thing.
In regards to never wanting to eat meat again, I can say that your tastes do change. It took about five days for me to stop wanting to brain someone for a bit of good Spanish Manchego, but after that I really rarely think about it. Most of the time I’m sort of grossed out by heavy, greasy foods, but I have to say that grilled salmon tastes every bit as good to me as it did when I was a devoted carnivore.
I realize your contemplation of vegetarianism doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with losing weight, but I do know that you have to have a pretty solid desire to make a change as big as that and to stick with it.
And, if you do want to lose weight, cutting out the meat and eggs and dairy does work, probably because they’re pretty calorically dense more than anything else, so eating an equivalent volume of food in whole grains and veggies you’re taking in far less calories. I find myself eating about twice the volume of food I did before, and have lost about 45 pounds since I started.
I dunno – I’d guess most folks who eat cheeseburgers every day are plenty well rounded.
And the “vegetarians are healthier” argument, while not strictly accurate, is based in some truth. The diet recommended by just about everyone who isn’t selling you a fad diet is rich in whole grains and legumes, vegetables, and fruits. And it’s low in fat (especially saturated fats) and simple carbohydrates.
A well-balanced vegetarian diet can meet these guidelines easily; a meat-centered diet has a much harder time meeting these guidelines.
Of course, you can have a diet that’s neither vegetarian nor meat-centered, and it can be perfectly healthful. But if you’re vegetarian and you don’t substitute cheese for meat (or make similar mistakes), you can be well on your way to a healthful diet.
Since this thread has transmuted into a consideration of the health benefits of a veggie diet, I’d thought I’d toss in these two cents.
Not quite true. It has been known for some time that the high fat (olive oil) diet of the Med was just as healthy, if not more so, than the low fat diet of Japan. A recent article in Scientific American, has a simple chart of this: http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?articleID=0007C5B6-7152-1DF6-9733809EC588EEDF&pageNumber=2&catID=2
If I remember correctly, it mentions that as long as you eat a diet moderate in saturated fats, were it defines a version of moderate, and stay active, you’re doing all you can. I even believe there are peoples with low risks of CHD, who are darn near carnivores. Active carnivores, but carnivores.
Me, I eat meat. If I didn’t, I’d vanish; I need the calories. Plus, I like the occassional hamburger and there are more veggies I dislike than meats. I also think it is more environmentally sound to eat meat in certain environments. Our steer is raised at too high an altitude to raise crops, for example, and cattle do not require irrigation.
I wasn’t talking about meat eaters, hence the reluctant herbivore thing. Animals are tasty. I still eat a little meat here and there, just not a lot or every day. I was referring to the die-hard bloody adamant Atkins-worshippers who are absolutely insistent that carbs (and only carbs) are the major culprit in obesity.