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Next step: vegetarianism

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When I swapped my omnivore diet to a vegetarian one several years ago, I didn’t realize how easy the change could be. I quickly found simple meat-free recipes and did my research on how to maintain my health to get me started. With some new convictions from UFV’s GEOG 111: Environmental Issues & Strategies class, and a push from a pal, I made the choice to switch.

At the time I was living with my parents who took the reins on cooking meals. This put a limit on my food freedoms, meaning I often ate what the other members in my family consumed. With some helpful tools I was able to keep those around me contented about my dietary choices as well as make sure I was being nourished.

My golden rule for going veg was to avoid being pompous and rude about it. Therefore, if someone had me over for dinner and didn’t know about my dietary choices, I politely ate whatever they placed in front of me. Of course, afterwards I would kindly mention to the hosts that I prefer to side step eating meat if the circumstance would arise again. On a similar note, I also remain respectful of others’ food choices as long as they’re respectful of mine, therefore I wouldn’t push vegetarianism on others if they weren’t interested.

Other than the reason listed above, I did not waver on my decision. Even when my friends were eating some tender chicken nugs, I knew I had to stick to my choices, because if I didn’t at that point I wouldn’t as time went on. This was helpful when presented with a meal to know the clear boundaries I had put upon myself.

Getting my parents on board in helping accommodate a vegetarian diet wasn’t difficult. Since going veg had been trending for many years my mom was curious about it by that point and willing to help me out with meals. Secondly, I mentioned they would be saving money by my choices because veggies, tofu, beans, and lentils are much cheaper than meat. Sold.

Most restaurants now have veggie options. If there’s nothing on the menu, I’ve learned that those restaurants often have a separate veggie menu you just need to ask for. Even packing snacks for on the go was effortless. Raw veggies and hummus is a must, plus granola bars, yogurt, cheese and crackers, nuts, and hard-boiled eggs. All of these items are easily accessible and affordable.

Now that I’ve moved out, cooking dinners is very doable. In recipes where ground beef is required, like chili, I simply switch it to veggie grounds that can be purchased at any grocery store and I just add black beans to anything that’s lacking protein. Two blogs that help me out greatly are The Minimalist Baker and Cookie & Kate. I’ve also enjoyed the seemingly endless creativity involved in cooking without meat. My pad Thai never needs shrimp again and my ceasar salad is anchovy free.

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