What is it to be a vegetarian (or vegan)? If the common but often misguided populace had it right, vegetarians would be grass consuming hippies screaming “cows have feelings too!” while simultaneously starving said cows because we happen to need so much grass, that the cows (and other “delicious” beasts of the minimized number of grassy hills and fields) can no longer sustain themselves. What horrible people – someone should really do something about those nut job Vegg Heads.
In reality, vegetarians come in no specific definition as to what their lifestyles consist of and what lead them to that dietary choice; some were born into families who lived that lifestyle, some simply didn’t enjoy meat as much as the general population and decided to write it off their diet (cue meat lover gasps), some don’t like the idea of eating animals or the cruelty often behind the meat industry (Food Inc. – watch it, and yes Netflix has it), others did their own research and decided that it was the healthiest lifestyle choice they could make for themselves, and still there are others who simply cannot consume a typical carnivore diet due to intolerance or allergies. We even come in different dietary restrictions such as lacto/ovo vegetarians, semi (flexitarian) vegetarians, pescetarians, vegans, and other variations that are probably less suitable to boasting the perfectly balanced diet (fruitarians, anyone?). But for the ever confusable Carni populace, there’s usually just vegetarian and vegan.
So one might ask, if their diets are so balanced, where do they find protein to make up for not eating meat? This is perhaps the biggest problem I’ve had as a vegetarian – but no, I don’t mean in the sense of getting protein. I’m constantly asked how I get enough protein. Hate to break it to all the Carni’s out there, but while cutting meat out of our lives may appear to limit our protein sources, it doesn’t eliminate them entirely or their versatility (thank you Morning Star and Loma Linda product).
Finding the Source – So What Options for Protein Exist outside of Animal Products?
For the Current Generation that’s AKA, “How do Vegg Heads get them gains?!”
Story time! Once upon an awkward afternoon I went on a first and last date with a well-dressed guy (he wore a suit – to Olive Garden). As typical before all dates I’ve had, my biggest apprehension was having the “talk” – the one and only – hey, I’m a vegetarian, so most likely anything with the name “Steak” or “Grill” in it will probably have little to no options for me. And then we have the annoying conversation of them asking, well, where can I eat, then? I always resist strangling them as the mere idea of taking the extra step to figure out for themselves is just beyond their Carni IQ (must be all the hormones in their daily steak fix). Needless to say we ended up at one of the two typical choices (Italian or Asian).
Once my date and I had gotten the general awkward start-up conversation out of the way, he began asking about my fitness, when the following question came out of his mouth,
“How are you so muscular when you’re vegetarian?!”
Of course. Now, dear readers, I’m no body builder, and I certainly am not the most toned person out there, but I do workout and I do love lifting weights. Naturally, my first reaction is to aggressively shut him down in his ignorance about my apparently not-so-common-as-I-thought diet. Instead, I calmly explained to him that the vegetarian diet, if done right, can easily acquire proper and sufficient amounts of protein. I also mentioned I have my father’s genetics and thus have it easier in regards to muscle gain, but that’s not my point.
This sort of question, in my mind at least, should be far less common than it is when I, or any other vegetarian or vegan, go out to eat. How do people not know that there are other ways to obtain protein without consuming animal product? Yes, product not meat, because the vegans are the truest heroes in the protein battle as they don’t even consume protein through dairy products.
So where do we get it from? How is it possible that a diet void of meat could possibly get enough protein? Well let’s see, there’s any sort of nut, seed, bean, pea, or soy that will do, and don’t forget eggs and dairy for the lacto-vegetarians. Oh wait, then there’s also a number of vegetables and grains that offer up protein too. But shoot, that doesn’t seem like enough sources, and definitely not tasty enough, so maybe vegetarians really should go back to chomping on steak with the rest of them. Kidding. With the wonderful human trait called creativity, non-meat ingredients can be combined well enough not only to satiate even the pickiest eaters palate, but to trick even the heartiest meat lover into thinking they’re consuming a beloved bacon strip or sausage patty – because we’re just nice enough that we shape our food to appear as meat, making it easier on the Carni populace to deal with the still “unnatural” transition of the non-meat diet.
What this all comes down to is anyone who cares enough about their diet in a sense of acquiring proper amounts of nutrients for their body can discover for themselves just exactly where they can get what they need with very little effort, but most people just stick to the word of mouth and the myth of a good “meat and potatoes” diet. Of course, plenty of vegetarians and vegans out there may not actually eat a well-balanced diet, but it’s not in any way due to their dietary restrictions, but rather how they calibrate their body’s personal needs and failing to acquire the proper nourishment, same as anyone else.
…But that doesn’t mean much to the meat lovers out there, so stay strong fellow Vegg Head’s, the continued ignorant questions of Carni’s are coming.