Diary #013 – Journey to Vegetarian

Officially, I decided to try it for a month, which is said to be a good amount of time to form a new habit. But deep down I know I won’t be going back to eating meat the way I did after that. What I’m wondering though is if I might eventually eat only sustainable meats. Maybe meat on very, very special occasions.

But I might do none of those things. I shall see!

Recently, a wonderful little pixie sent me one of her beautiful, limited edition pixie prints, made out of real pixies!

It looks down upon my bed, keeping me safe at night and reminding me that men can be ridiculous. It is beautiful – thankyou, Rene!

As I said, very limited so get yours while you can.

And don’t forget these beautiful prints either!

- Rebecca Clements

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I am on the verge of vegetarianism, flirting with her. I have eaten a meatball and some lobster in the past week. I didn’t have to but I did. Almost to make vegetarianism jealous.


I’ve started eating less meat lately. Ultimately, I could never go vegetarian though. I love the taste too much! And meat is just the best choice for getting all the nutrition I need. I’ve cut down to one serve of meat a day at most, and have tried some vegetarian alternatives out of curiosity alone.


I went vegetarian for about three weeks, but I’m not good at cooking and I’ve never liked most vegetables (the crunchy ones especially irk me). It was like the picky kid trying to go salad friendly.

My diet was so poor that I had to get back on meat because I thought I was going to waste away. If I ever went vegetarian again I think I’d be open to meats I prepared myself or finding better ways to get more nutrition into my system.


But, but, but vegetarianism will kill all the animals!

If no one is using them for food, there’s no reason to keep any of them around and hundreds of species will die out!


good for you, but I’ll have to make up for your share of the meat. make sure you get all the nutrition you need, you may need to take supplements if you do not (you may want to do that anyway).


Multiple points:

1) re: carnivore – We’re not carnivores. We’re not herbivores either. We are omnivores. We eat everything (and the more variety we get, the healthier we are).

2) re: Japan – Take a look at the Okinawa diet (island has more people over the age of 100 than any place else on Earth). Substitute brown rice for white, sweet potatoes for regular, olive oil for butter, and you’re off to a good start.

3) re: vegetarian – Take a look at “flexitarian” (flexible vegetarian), meat gets reserved for flavoring or special treats, not as a primary component.

4) re: meat – Remember, bacon is vegetarian’s kryptonite!


I was thinking about Japanese people and their assumed good health due to max age. I used to assume that this was due to their diet, but when I was there I noticed they smoke and drink a lot. Their food is better, but with all the smoking and drinking you would think they would die faster. I then realized that shorter people live longer, and Japanese people are pretty short.

I don’t know what to think anymore, and I don’t think anyone has an actual answer as to what is good for us. What I try to do is listen to my cravings. My body can try to tell me what nutrition I need day to day. Who knows if it will work…I guess I will find out when I am old.


It’s nice to know that you’re happy about your decision. But is it just me, or do a lot of vegetarians have pale skin?


5) re:beef – Mandatory reading is Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Just as there’s a massive gulf between extra virgin olive oil and the leavings of the fryolator, there’s a massive gulf (in both quality and ethics) between grass-fed beef and feed-lot beef.


i was a vegetarian one week in high school, just to try it out. i immediately lost all the puffiness in my face and looked awesome, but i gave up because i was just so busy and poor and didn’t have time to rearrange things without slowly starving to death

and now…i dunno…i just love meat


Just remember to supplement the vitamins and protein that you’ll no longer be absorbing from meat. I went veggie in high school and that was my huge downfall.

Good luck on your new dietary path!


I started for a month, too, just over two years ago. It’s very easy to keep going—and I’ve felt much more whole every since—which is a strange but delightful feeling. Best wishes!


I LOVE panels 4 and 11. I used to be a vegetarian, but I’m so thin and sickly, I have to eat at least chicken for protein. I won’t eat any other meat though.


I love this comic. :)
And Vegetarians rule. Of course I live in Portland, Oregon so it’s incredibly easy. I would try hard to just not think about meat. I know vegetarians who seem really intent on making me believe they don’t actually like meat ( ME thinks doth protest to much) And then there are the people who go “Man I suuuuure could go for a steak right now…. Wait! Aw maaan…”: None of those are good. Just don’t let it be important at all and you’ll be fine. And don’t eat substitutes.


What’s odd is, I’ve been slowly doing the same. I’ve swapped meat for tofu at most restaurants, simply because I prefer the taste over how they prepare it [Pei Wei and Genghis Grill are fantastic for vegetarian options]. I’m not quite there yet, still eating a hamburger or hot dog once or twice a month, but it’s been a very low impact diet for me. And it’s all been done simply due to taste and preference, rather than any environmental reasons. It’s strange how that works.


I’m so proud of you, Rebecca. I don’t even miss meat, so it’s not a thing for me. It actually kinda disgusts me just thinking about meat, nowadays. This is one of my favourite comics of yours.

Next you’ll start questioning eggs and milk and cheese :) It’s a slippery slope into sustainability!

Dave


Sustainability can be achieved while eating meat, but people in the west need to just start eating less (smaller portions) in general. Include sustainable seafood for a least 3 dinners a week. overeating hurts not only yourself (get fat), but also the planet.


Thank you! That’s exactly how I felt and now I’ve been living without meat for 2 months..
:) This comic makes me happy.


Yay! Congrats!

Like Dave said, maybe you’ll start sliding into veganism, which is even more sustainable, and ethical, depending on where you’re getting your dairy and eggs.

I don’t mean to sound preachy (although I think it’s something worth being preachy about) but I don’t think “it tastes good” is a very good reason to do something that could be questioned ethically, or just something that could have great environmental impacts. There’s a lot of (possibly) immoral and environmentally dubious things that are pleasurable to the sensations, but I don’t think that makes it justified.

Also Dimitri, I’m also pretty thin (6′ 120lbs) but just as long as you get enough alternative types of protein (beans, seeds, tofu and other soy products) you’ll be fine. :)


Vegatirans and vegans are godamned nutcases sorry for your loss


Dear Bec,

Please read below! Although, this “Guy” doesn’t seem to have anything against vegetarians. It appears that “vegatirans” are his bugbear. Luckily, “vegans” is far easier to spell when you’re making a gutless anonymous post. It must be mentally exhausting to spell correctly when you’re trying to be all sarcastic and cool.


Why you gotta be so harsh? Let him say his piece. Spelling has yet to be scientifically linked to actual intelligence. However it does keep people from looking like assholes.


You wouldn’t be so kind to him if you were a “vegatiran,” would you? Will someone please think of the plight of the vegatirans!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Congrats, Bec! Welcome to the club. If you’re smart about it, you’ll find that you’ll feel a lot healthier, you won’t feel any guilt, and you’re also doing your bit for the environment. I’ve been on the vego wagon for 12 years, and I am so glad I did! I am much healthier for it.

And be warned – you’re going to cop a LOT of flack from meat-eaters. Even though you’ve made the decision on your own and you’re not trying to ram your beliefs down anyone’s throat (pun totally intended), meat-eaters are realllly touchy about vegetarianism. You’ll get a lot of “food chain” and “natural order of things” and “vegetarians are crazy” and “you’ll get sick” arguments over and over and over again. And it never ends – after 12 years of being a perfectly healthy and happy vegetarian, I still get dickheads trying to convince me that I am in the wrong.

There’s no arguing with these people! They are just super defensive and want to start an argument. It probably stems from a guilty conscience, and they feel that they really have to justify their own position to you.

My only advice? Just nod and smile. And if that doesn’t shut them up, a simple “Fuck off,” with a short, sharp punch to the throat should do the trick.

XO


“There’s no arguing with these people! They are just super defensive and want to start an argument. It probably stems from a guilty conscience, and they feel that they really have to justify their own position to you.”

Uh…I’ve actually gotten that attitude from vegetarians. I’ve seen “meat-eaters” do the same, but don’t insinuate it’s a one sided thing. It’s not even a food choice thing. It’s a people like to be dicks thing. Chances are, the reason why these people are so defensive is because they pick on each other and have a hard time understanding that not everyone is going to bully them, or need some kind of validation for their personal choice and decide to do it in a negative way.

The rest of us who RESPECT a person’s choice are over here doing more important things since we recognize the fate of the world doesn’t rest on substituting beef and tofu with one of the other.


I agree with you. Some people really feel the urge to justify their own position because they think that they are the ones about to be judged. So they throw in the first punch… Preemptive bullying. Which ends up causing offence where there needn’t have been any.

To be fair, there are vego’s out there that are pretty overzealous and spoil it for the rest of us. But I completely disagree that the numbers of overzealous vegetarians are equal to those of defensive omnivores. Omnivores are definitely in the majority in Australia, and a lot of them really do think that vegetarians do not belong to the normal order of things, and that they need to be told.

There is a really strong meat-eating culture in Australia, and if you don’t belong to that culture then there’s obviously something wrong with you. It’s like shunning a young boy for crying, or scolding someone for singing in a public place, or disapproving of a woman because she is wearing a burqa. There’s a culture of persecuting the minority, simply because they don’t do something exactly the way that you do it. People want freedom of choice, and then do their best to stop other people from choosing something that doesn’t fit their own cultural norm.

When I went vego, it really surprised me that people would be so negative about something as simple as a person’s choice of diet. Over a decade later, you’d think I’d stop being surprised at the frequency of this happening, but I’m still amazed at how the simple subject of vegetarianism provokes such an enormous polarisation of opinions, and such inflammatory remarks.

Just look at the number of comments on this comic! The vegetarian debate is something that gets so many people fired up. Everyone has an opinion.

You are right – it’s about respect. Not about vegetarianism alone, although that’s essentially the topic here; Respect for the diversity of people’s life choices. I have no problem with people who choose to eat meat – they’ve thought it through, and they’ve arrived at that preference. Good for them. Enjoy your steak! I do have a problem when people try to enforce their opinions upon others. Vegetarianism is a personal choice. It’s like reaching the conclusion that you want to become a mother, or a Buddhist, or a sky-writer. You don’t need further “validation” from anyone – you’ve obviously given it careful consideration and made a valid decision on your own. I wish people would just trust that you’ve actually thought the choice through and stop treating each-other like imbeciles.


Depending on where she lives, it could be a very veggie friendly place. My city certainly is. So, just because you tend to see that kind of conflict in Australia doesn’t mean it applies everywhere else. I do think it’s a fair assumption to make, but for people that live in Seattle? There’s no reason for any veggie to be crazypants, and yet so many stand around veggie-friendly places just daring someone to persecute them for a lifestyle choice most people here are perfectly okay with. I don’t remember anti-vegetarian attitude being prevalent in my hometown, either, which is a hick town. But Washington is kind of special.

Also, most comments here are expressing person experiences about turning veggie or why they were unable. Very few are actually “fired up” in the sense that I understand the terminology, which shows how acceptable vegetarianism has become.


I went veggie for about 3 weeks once. I did it at the worst time, though, because I was still living with my parents and they didn’t support me a bit. I didn’t do any research involving proteins or anything and lost 10 pounds, which is scary when you’re borderline underweight. I eat meat now, but eventually I will go back to veggie and I will do it properly!


I’ve been vegetarian for all twenty years of my life and have never given nutrition a second thought, the same way meat eaters don’t. It just all sorts itself out.


Honestly, you will usually feel better after a month without meat and it’s a great chance to explore new foods. I did it for about 8 months, but without the awareness of how to balance my diet properly and keep up my protein levels as well as increasing the portion sizes to make up for the concentration of fat and protein in meat, I felt like mildly warmed-up death. If I was to do it again, knowing about the vital need for protein from legumes, pulses and mushrooms and a bit of oil and coconut cream, I could happily be a vegetarian. Oh and especially watch your iron levels, you’ll probably want to take supplements for that, the figures for green leafy veges such as spinach which say they’re high in iron have the decimal point wrong, they’re ten times less effective than that study says. On the bright side, you should get loads of all the other nutrients you need which meat often lacks.

We understand our diet now to the point where vegan is a perfectly viable option, I love that. For me, trying to keep down food miles and energy consumption is my priority and if that means the choice between kangaroo (always free range as no Australian species except the macadamia nut can be farmed) or imported soybean because it’s the wrong time of year, the kangaroo may be better for the environment. It’s a very complex issue and people are entitled to justify things according to their priorities.

I like my meat and I like understanding I don’t have to have it and enjoying vegetarian and vegan food too, especially where they’ve come up with alternatives to help cook for friends with allergies.

Also, my favourite vegetarian joke: If vegetarians only eat vegetables, what do humanitarians eat?


I appreciate that you didn’t throw in “ethical” and “humane” like SOME vegetarians and vegans do. It should be about choice and respecting that choice, but most importantly, enjoying really delicious foods.

I still haven’t found a cooked tofu that I like. I’m the worst Asian ever.


Everyone’s rationale for becoming vegetarian is entirely unique to themselves. People have different reasons for it, each one as valid as the next. Are you insinuating that “ethical” and “humane” rationales are less valid than those represented in this comic? I thought that becoming vegetarian to reduce the environmental impact *was* an “ethical” choice? To say that ethical and humane reasons are not valid or that they should not be voiced directly opposes the concept of being “respectful” of choice.

But agree with you on the tofu. It’s tolerable at best.


Like the conversion we were having before, people who tend to scream about it being ethical, humane, moral, and what have you are more concerned about justifying why they’re right and you’re wrong. There’s nothing valid about belittling someone else for choices that aren’t incorrect; that is disrespect.

There’s a difference between saying, “Hey, I decided to do this because I think it’ll help the environment,” versus, “I’m doing this because it’s ethical and humane,” to a person who is exercising the opposite lifestyle. While one may imply that the person isn’t as green minded, that’s completely different than the implication of being unethical and inhumane.

But I think you already understood that and just like splitting hairs. Or tofu. Seriously, where is this tasty tofu people keep telling me about?


Here’s what I don’t get: I feel like everywhere the mere words “vegetarian” or “Vegan” are mentioned, especially the internet but everywhee else too, SOMEBODY ALWAYS has to say something along the lines of “Vegetarians are crazy!” or “Why would you do that?” And then somebody else HAS to get offended. Sometimes it’s just a kind of wry, perhaps slightly senseless joke with ultimately nothing but good intentions behind it. Other times it’s some sort of knee jerk reaction to anything “liberal” or “hippie.” Others, I think, feel like its this kind of preemptive strike to the “””Annoying vegetarians””” assault on….Something. For the first type I don’t really have much to say, sometimes it’s funny other times not so much, there has got to be a billion reasons for both. For the other kinds if you don’t like what vegetarians are talking about don’t troll forums and comments bars pertaining to vegetarianism. If you don’t like Trekkies don’t go to the Star Trek convention.


What? Rebecca is vegetarian too? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!
I think I don’t love you anymore, lady.
Hahaha

But seryously, now. My ex-best-friend tryied to go vegetarian once. But I think she gave up, or something like that.
Well, if you’re happy this way, good luck for you!


I’ve been wanting to go vegetarian forever. Most meat I can do without, but not bacon. Do they have any decent bacon substitutes yet?


Nice work Bec!! It does feel good doesn’t it! If you need any nutrition advice, I’ve been a very healthy vegetarian/vegan for 14 years and I’m studying to be a Naturopath. All the best!


I’ve started eating less meat lately too but that’s only because I’ve moved out on my own and don’t have the guts to cut up my own meat :(


The cow is still getting killed, the hamburger is still getting cooked, and its still getting thrown away if uneaten by the end of the day. Go to mc donalds, vegetarianism makes no difference.


The idea is that when a company finds they’re over supplying their stores, they will cut down to save costs. That would only make sense. Meat is fairly expensive, so if a company could cut down the cost of buying it they probably would.

So if the stores (grocery stores, restaurants) are ordering less meat, then the farmers will farm less animals, otherwise they’re making a huge investment in growing a cow, only to have it not ordered.

But even if this doesn’t work, at least I don’t have anything to do with the industry.


I miss meat so! I will start eating the occasional local and organic critter once my daughter is old enough for solid food. Best wishes on all your food adventures!


The best thing to do is be born in India, where 95% of the food is vegetarian, the variety is so good and wide that salads for lunch becomes a forgotten nightmare, and nobody’s heard of the malnourished vegan hippie stereotype.


I’m pretty much Vegan, and I’ll tell you what, my shopping bill is a lot lower after not buying meat. Also? Despite what people say, Tofu is amazing. Its one of the most versatile foodstuffs ever. I have so many recipes involving tofu its unreal. You can even make cakes out of it, or use it to replace eggs.


The secret is to make it a choice every moment, instead of a credo. Period. I’m mostly vegan, and I have discovered that this is due to the realization I have constantly that I feel better eating this way. I’ll eat cheese and feel gross the next day. I do occasionally eat fish, and feel a ton of energy from it (which can be good or bad). As long as we know how to interpret what our bodies tell us, we can be healthy individually.

Also, waayyy up there in the comments, about vegetarians being pale: I think a lot of vegetarians/vegans make the mistake of overdoing it with “filling” foods like potatoes and breads, which make us *look* starchy. Potato-eatin’ faces, starchy/watery/pale. You are what you eat. I make my diet a rainbow every day, and I ride my bike a lot. Hence, I am a colorful gal.

Finally, TOFU COOKERY. It will give any tofu-phobe second thoughts about his/her dislike of the beany block.


This is a great way of thinking about vegetarianism (and environmentalism).

I’ve pretty much been living by this idea for a few years now and I’ve slowly been edging towards vegetarianism, but I don’t think I’ll ever make it.

Why’s that? Well, sometimes eating meat just makes sense. Last weekend I had beef for the first time in over a year because I feared that refusing it would’ve been more detrimental to my friend’s feelings than it 5 oz. of hamburger to the environment. (My friend invited me over for an impromptu Fourth of July — US Independence Day — barbecue. I learned it was her first time grilling ever and I could see the pride she was taking in being a good hostess.)

But I also have a consistent problem: Protein. I’ve just started strength training so I need to have protein daily, especially after I work out. I eat lean chicken for the protein. I’d eat more nuts if they weren’t so fatty, garbanzo beans if I had a blender to make hummus, and baked beans if I figure out better rice and bean recipes. But at this time, all natural free range chicken feels like an acceptable choice, especially when it’s less than a pound a week. (And soon I’m planning to buy it from a local farmer’s market so that would arguably be even better.)

So I guess there’s lessons to be taken from this for all: These lifestyles are indeed just labels for describing how one typically makes choices, rather than a credo. And the choices we make can be limited by a number of factors: Our other lifestyle choices, the cooking amenities and ingredients we can afford, and the viability of alternative nutrient sources, and even just issues of palate. So if it’s possible to remove obstacles, we can move towards more sustainable choices.

The choice/credo distinction is also great because it allows us to evaluate vegetables against each other. This is very important because you miss the point of your belief system if you value “organic” monocultures shipped across the country on the same level as local polycultures. The choices avenue grants you these distinctions, making it a more flexible and effective system.

<b.tl;dr Meghan made a great point and I elaborate too much about it from my perspective.


If you eat fish and cheese, you’re not “mostly vegan,” nor are you a vegetarian, you would be considered a “pescatarian.” As many, if not more, animals are slaughtered in the dairy industry and fish populations are being wiped out by human consumption.

Ms. Clements, if you’re only interested in sustainability and environmentalism, I would still recommend veganism, but I would recommend it 100x more because of the unethical practice of enslaving and slaughtering billions of sentient beings. Check out Gary Francione and Abolitionist Veganism:

http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/


I’m not vegetarian or vegan. I eat meat and animal products pretty much every day. But I am SO SICK AND TIRED of how EVERY time ANYONE mentions either vegetarianism or veganism, SOME ASSHOLE comes along and makes fun of them. Or says “I’ll have to eat more meat to make up for you, then.” Like, it’s not enough that they disagree with the person, they have to punish them, and try to make them feel powerless (“no matter what I do that guy will just keep eating more meat, it’s hopeless”). You people who do this? You are DESPICABLE. I’d rather hang out with someone earnestly trying to convert me to veganism than one of you jerks, because at least they’re doing what they do out of PRINCIPLE and CONCERN, not malice and spite.

And for the record, I have never met a pale, sickly vegan. In fact I used to be friends with a fat vegetarian! Not that I’m a perfect ten over here either… gotta hit the gym more often. =P But the point is that bullying people over the internet is childish and cowardly, I hate every single one of you, and I wish you would all hurry up and have heart attacks so you’ll stop making the rest of us animal eaters look bad!


Sometimes I wish I could go completely vegetarian, but I tried it for about a month and got really sick. In the end my doctor told me to try to eat a little meat to keep my blood sugar normal.
I realize that there is more I can probably do to replace animal protein with vegetable protein, but I’m also allergic to most grain.
So I try to make up in other ways! I bring my own grocery bags, buy from local growers, use water and electricity wisely, use handkerchiefs etc…
But I’m glad that we live in a day and age where being a vegetarian is healthy and possible.


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