Becoming Vegetarian: A Response to ‘Those Responses’

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Lockdown forced some unexpected changes upon us all.

But as we head back out into the world, it’s clear that a lot of people also used lockdown to make some positive changes to their lives, changes that had previously been lingering at the bottom of a long to-do list.

For me, this was finally giving up meat for good and becoming vegetarian.

However, I soon realised that telling people this can be met with more confusion and irritation than I’d first imagined. So, I thought I’d have a go at responding to some of those responses which I’ve received over the past few months, and which I think many vegetarians can probably relate too:

I don’t pine over beef burgers.

The truth is, I quit meat simply because I stopped liking it. So, I’m not going to cry myself to sleep every time I see a beef burger. In fact, being vegetarian actually makes my life easier: I’ve always hated cooking with meat, so it solves that problem.

However, I know that people become vegetarian for different reasons, and some do find it difficult to stop eating meat. So, surely, it’s better not to remind them of their struggle by bringing up what they’re missing out on, right?  

I’m not trying to convert you.

It really wasn’t like I saw a guy eating a chicken nugget and thought ‘Oh no I must go and convert all the evil meat-eaters in this world’. I became vegetarian because I felt it was the best decision for me.

I’m also the only member of my family who’s vegetarian, and I know that sometimes it can be a pain to work family meals around that, so I’d be pretty hypocritical if I didn’t respect other people’s choice to eat what they want.

I’m not trying to save the world, and if I was, why would that be a bad thing?

As you can probably tell by now, I didn’t become vegetarian for any particularly moral reason. But the fact that it might help a few animals is a nice thought to have in the back of my mind.

I also know there are a lot of better people out there who do become vegetarian to try to make the world a better place, yet from what I’ve seen a lot of them are mocked for being “pretentious” or “delusional”. Like, they’re literally saving lives and the planet, last time I checked that was a good thing, right?

Yes, it can lead to a lack of iron, but there are plenty of substitutes.

One common argument against vegetarianism is that by cutting meat out of your diet you lose out on important vitamins and minerals. This is true, so please consider this before you choose to become vegetarian. But whilst I’m no doctor or scientist, I do know there are plenty of alternatives. To see what the best substitutes are, you can check out the NHS website (or you can check out the Vegetarian and vegan diets Q&A on the NHS website). For example, according to this site, instead of getting iron from meat you can try eating more pulses, nuts and dried fruits.

So that’s my little rant over.

I’m not going to lie, if I’d read this article a year ago, I probably would’ve been annoyed at the fact I was making such a big deal over society’s perception of vegetarians, but I guess that was before it was my diet they were scrutinising.

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