Just imagine, you’re out with friends that you’ve known for a while, when suddenly, you’re all at a restaurant about to order. Your friend asks you what you’re going to get as you peruse the vegetarian section. You name your choice and a few friends make a grimace. They’re still getting used to your plant-based lifestyle and they’re curious.
You see one glance to the other, raise eyebrows in question, then…they fire, one after another in rapid succession. Question after question about what you eat, are you getting enough vitamins, is it because it’s popular now? The questions fall like rain in a storm. One by one, you calmly answer them, taking note of the crazier questions from people who have not yet been informed of the benefits and positives accompanying your lifestyle.
Embrace this opportunity and use it as a time to educate those close to you about your lifestyle! They’re your friends after all, and who knows, maybe after they have all the facts, they’ll make the switch too!
“What about protein?”
Ugh, this question. How many times a week must we hear it? Protein can be found in sun-dried tomatoes, soybeans, lentil sprouts, lima beans, garlic, and many, many other vegetables. There are so many sources of protein that come naturally, or there are even all-natural supplements if you’re sick to death of beans. Educate your friends, so they don’t bother the next vegetarian or vegan they meet with the same question.
“Can you eat dessert?”
Oh, you betcha. So long as it’s free of animal by-products. In my experience, vegan desserts are so much better than regular. No guilt afterward, no feeling of something heavy sinking into your stomach. Just light, delicious, and generally lower in calories. My favorite is the Lemon Raspberry Cheesecake. Check out our recipe page for desserts and show your friends that the desserts, the vegan way, are all the rage.
“Wait, so NO cheese?”
Cheese is something of a comfort food to most. Many can’t imagine giving it up, that is, until they try some of the vegan cheeses. These nutty, delicious blends are comparable, if not better than the originals. Yes, I can eat cheese. No, not the super processed, individually wrapped, created in the factory kind. I make my own, by hand, from scratch and with love. Try showing some of the easy to make cheeses to your friends and quell the question.
“What do you eat at restaurants?”
Simply, whatever I like. Going to a restaurant is the same for an herbivore as it is for an omnivore. You simply ask for what suits your needs. There is no need for Average Joe to walk in and announce to the restaurant that he can only eat meat. The same should be true of vegans/vegetarians. Simply look over your choices, choose one, and check with your waiter (politely) that it is in fact vegan. It’s often easier to save money this way if you’re ordering from the a la carte menu. Save some green and enjoy your greens!
“Don’t you worry about anemia?”
Anemia effects people with all diets. Like any responsible plant-based eater, you know that there are plenty of sources of iron ranging from spinach to dark chocolate. Take a read here and explain to that inquiring mind that iron is all around us! It’s easy, and often delicious, to eat.
“Aren’t you sick of soy and tofu?”
NEVER!! Okay, yeah personally, sometimes. Thankfully, there are a zillion alternatives out there for soymilk including almond milk, oat milk, rice milk, and even cashew milk. And tofu is so darn versatile you can make it into anything! I once had leftovers from a stirfry and turned them into tofu donuts. Tofu is like the playdough of the kitchen. It takes on flavors of other sauces, dips, vegetables, and even broths while maintaining its incredible nutritional value.
“But aren’t there health risks?”
As long as you are careful about what you’re putting into your body, you are subverting most health risks. There are far more health risks to be found in nonvegetarian/nonvegan lifestyles including more forms of cancer, heart disease, and higher risks of cancer, according to The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition which can be read here. There are some risks if you aren’t careful, but monitoring your daily intake of essential nutrients and vitamins are the key to having a healthy life.
“What are your meal sizes?”
In a word, HUGE! No, not always, but sometimes, a big meal is warranted. For the majority of vegans I’ve met, meals are frequent and light. However, if seconds are wanted, they’re taken. There is no worry about crossing the recommended daily calorie intake, as plant-based foods are often lower in calories and fats. As long as you’re not scarfing down bread every 20 minutes, and sticking with healthy and filling options, there’s no reason to limit yourself as if you are on a diet. It’s a lifestyle!
“Does it take forever to cook?”
Honestly, no longer than the time I used to spend in the kitchen. It may require a bit more chopping or soaking something overnight, but that’s hardly a time suck. A food processor does most of the work for me, and soaking nuts or beans overnight is as easy as filling a pot with water, literally. Try some of these quick and easy recipes to get started!
“Animals are here for us to eat. Why aren’t you eating them?”
Says who? That’s my question. There are a large number of religions that practice vegetarianism and also non-violence. If you choose your lifestyle based on religion, I respect that, as should everyone. But it’s hard to imagine a religion that condones the horrific treatment and slaughter of sentient beings to satisfy our nation’s ever expanding appetite and waistlines. You uphold your beliefs, and I will do the same with mine.
“Won’t you get osteoporosis?”
My favorite response to this is, “won’t you?” Osteoporosis affects all of us. Some less. Guess who? Vegans! Why, you ask? Because plant-based eaters watch what they’re putting in their bodies rigorously. They know the value of calcium when it isn’t had the traditional way. Unsurprisingly, it is not hard to find calcium in everything from milk alternatives to oranges. Keep those levels high to ward off osteoporosis. Want to know more? Check out 10 Dairy-free Foods Packed with Calcium.
“How do you eat at holidays with family (like as in a cultural thing)?”
There are countless family gatherings that happen throughout the years and if you’re new to plant-based eating, your folks may not be accustomed to it yet and it’ll slip their mind that you choose to eat differently. It’s really no different than someone who has an allergy. The risk is always there. Someone will serve something that doesn’t fit your diet. Instead, bring something! It’s a family gathering, right? Why should Mom have to cook it all? Bring stuff to share or show how to make your favorite dish so everyone can be involved. You can even use this time to field some of the questions they probably have for you. Some of which can be found on this very list.
“Do vegans eat fish sometimes? They don’t feel anything anyways, right?”
Some vegans don’t eat fish and others continue to eat fish, even into their vegan days, they’re labeled as pescatarian. And according to studies, there is a lot of debate as to whether or not fish feel pain. I’d prefer to err on the side of caution and resist unnecessary pain to an animal if I can avoid it. There are, however, a lot of good nutrients found in fish, omega-3s and the like which can also be found in supplement form, but the negatives are horrifying. Take a look at this post, exposing what little Nemo has been swimming in before making it to your plate.
Lead image source: Kathleen Bladen/Flickr