The word vegetarian has been around with us for some time now. Recently though, vegan has been added to the mix. Sometimes the two words are used interchangeably. Before becoming a vegan or vegetarian, you at least need to have some idea of what you are getting into, right?
There was a time I fancied myself a vegetarian. I eliminated all types of meat from my diet. I can’t recall why I opted to be a vegetarian. But I am sure it must have come from something I read about all the good becoming a vegan or vegetarian would do to my health.
Anyway, the habit lasted just a few months. But I still carry some of the fallout from that experience. Because of that experience, I lost my love for meat.
Don’t get me wrong though. I still eat meat. It’s just that now, I don’t consider meat an essential part of a balanced diet as I used to. So now I am comfortable eating without meat as part of my meal.
Some people can never entertain that thought even at the point of dead. To them, a meal without meat should not be mentioned in the same sentence as food.
Becoming a vegan or vegetarian is not a walk in the park
As I discovered when I tried to become a vegetarian, one would require a lot of discipline to pull it off.
See it this way. All your life, you’ve been raised on a diet of meat and all sorts of animal products. In school, you’ve been taught that meat and other animal products are very good sources of protein. And most of the people you know eat meat and animal products.
To break away from that mold requires a strong will. Friends, families and associates would constantly question your decision. Hardly any of them would take you serious.
You would be constantly put in a position where you need to accept meat or be labelled or termed a rude and an unsociable sort. Your life would become a constant battle of trying to convince the skeptics you are very serious.
They would never take you word for it. So becoming a vegan or vegetarian is not a journey for the faint-hearted. Unless of course you live in communities where abstinence from animal products is a normal way of life.
Similarities and differences between vegans and vegetarians
Vegetarians are known to exclude meat from their diet. Also, animal products like poultry and seafood are excluded from their meals. The same thing applies to vegans.
However, some vegetarians might consider eating animal products like eggs and dairy. This is where the vegans differ from the vegetarians. Vegans extend their ban to even animal products like dairy, eggs, honey and so forth
Also, any product produced using animal products like honey, milk, egg, poultry are avoided by vegans. Vegans even avoid wearing clothes and shoes made from animal products. It is almost like a religion.
So you can classify veganism as a deeper and more inclusive form of vegetarianism.
Vegan and vegetarian dietary habits
As a vegan or vegetarian, you would have to pay a lot of attention to how and what you need.
Because of that, becoming a vegan or vegetarian requires a lot of study and paying careful attention to details. For beginners, this might be daunting. But you get used to what you need or don’t need after a while.
But be prepared to explain/tell waitresses and chefs in restaurants about your specific need. Unfortunately, that would be a life-time job for you.
If you are not the sociable type and like keeping to yourself, you might not have a difficult time as much as an extrovert who aims on becoming a vegan or vegetarian.
Because as an extrovert or a person with an active social live, you would find yourself explaining to people you visit or who come visiting about your dietary choice. That could get very tedious. And some people might see you as a weirdo especially in rural communities.
Balanced diet for vegans and vegetarians
Becoming a vegan or vegetarian successfully means you must ensure your meals contain all the essential nutrients. This means eating the necessary selection of food that contains important nutrients like calcium, zinc, protein, and iron.
The most common foods that can supply all your nutritional needs include grains, nuts, legumes, kale, and beans. These are just some of the food choices available to you as a budding vegan or vegetarian.
One of the good thing about taking the decision to becoming a vegan or vegetarian is that most processed foods are totally eliminated from your diet. So you learn to cook and eat only healthy natural foods.
Benefits of becoming a vegan or vegetarian
Studies have shown that consumption of foods like red meat is known to cause some heart problems.
By replacing meat and other animal products, you can avoid cardiovascular and heart problems.
Other benefits include
- Your brain becomes healthier
- The body’s biological functions become enhanced
- You become generally healthier than before
Well, it is said that the taste of the pudding is in the eating, so the only way you get all these benefits is to try becoming a vegan or vegetarian. Remember, the changes you expect wouldn’t come immediately. You have to stick to the plan, preferably for the rest of your life.
So what do you think? Would you give becoming a vegan or vegetarian a shot? And if you are one, do share your experiences with us in the comments box below.