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There is only thing more irritating to a new vegetarian than getting harassed by your non-supportive meat-eater friends about why you should still eat meat. And that is, getting harassed by know-it-all plant-eaters about how your vegetarian diet isn’t really vegetarian.
As a long-time vegetarian who has been both the relentless judge and irritated victim, I know you can’t please ’em all. So my best advice is: don’t try to. Whether you’ve made your decision for health, animal, religious, or environmental reasons, any adjustment you make in your intended direction is progress.
Just so you know what you’re getting yourselves into, here’s a quick breakdown of who’s who.
Types of Vegetarian Diet
Flexitarians/semi-vegetarians eat a predominantly vegetarian diet but do eat meat on occasion.
Pescatarians omit meat and poultry from their diet but do eat fish and shellfish. Pescatarians mostly endure the nagging argument that “just because fish aren’t cute and don’t have legs, doesn’t mean they aren’t animals.” (I’ve harassed a few friends with that one before I learned not to judge!)
Vegetarians do not eat meat, poultry or fish. Dairy products and eggs are ok since the animal isn’t killed.
Conscientious vegetarians only eat dairy or eggs from animals that have been pasture-raised or certified humane. Sometimes they eat ‘regular’ dairy or eggs when no one is looking. Let’s call them “semi-conscientious”. (That’s where I fit in, by the way.)
Strict vegans do not eat, wear, upholster, or otherwise consume any animal product whatsoever. This includes leather, suede, wool, dairy, eggs, honey, and foods that contain animal by-products. For example, did you know non-vegan marshmallows and gummy bears get their chewy texture from the ligaments, tendons, and bones of cows and pigs? Eek. (Read Hidden Ingredients in Candy to find better options, if you share my sweet tooth!)
Bottom line: Thank your friends for their oh-so-helpful input. Then ignore them. Adjust your lifestyle to fit your motivations, beliefs, and health needs… not anyone else’s.
Good To Know
- A plant-based diet is associated with a lower risk of obesity, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and other diseases.
- No one’s perfect.