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katybelle 10-15-2010 11:44 AM

Thinking about going vegetarian... advice?
So I recently watched the video Meet your Meat and it definitely changed some of my perspectives. I've been doing meatless Mondays now for a couple of weeks and to be honest, I look forward to doing that every week. After watching that video, I haven't eaten any meat because I can't bring myself to do it. :( I come from a family where meat was basically a requirement for every single meal. I'm in college now, but it seems to me that the cafeteria is not vegetarian friendly at all. Louisiana, especially where I am, doesn't seem too vegetarian friendly.

I guess I'm worried because of a couple of reasons. One, I'm not sure how my family would take it. They might be understanding but I don't want to inconvenience them when it comes to meals during my holidays and I go home. Also, I like eating certain kinds of meat. I've never been a big red meat fan, but I like chicken and fish. I know there are different types of vegetarianism and I can adapt it to my lifestyle, but I'm not sure I want to right now. I tried to eat chicken the other day and it made me sick thinking about how the chicken was treated. Lastly, there are severely limited choices at my cafeteria for vegetarians. I have a meal plan for the rest of this semester and next semester, so I have to eat there. I tried the veggie burger last night and it was okay, but they cook it on the same grill as the regular burgers. :( Plus, I wouldn't want to be eating that all the time.

Many of my problems are probably easy fixes. But any advice would be very welcomed. :)

katy trail 10-15-2010 11:54 AM

maybe you could eat majority of the food in cafeteria, or maybe you can bring it to the dorm? and suppliment that with protein from the grocery store. canned beans, make your own lentils, nuts, buy some veggie burgers. maybe ask if they can cook the veggie burgers in the microwave instead? i think you have lots of options. and you could still eat eggs. we can get protein lots of places, its surprising.

maybe do some research. read some books on it like the kind diet. i haven't read it, but i've heard good things.
do some research about what you need to be careful about, like getting enough B vitamins.

astrophe 10-15-2010 12:06 PM

1) Learn to cook. BYO food when needed. If you are worried, "Living among the meat Eaters" by carole adams.

2) Vegetarian Way by Virginia and Mark Messina.

3) PCRM guide. http://www.pcrm.org/health/veginfo/vsk/

4) Sue Spitler, Nava Atlas, Donna Klein -- good cookbook authors that don't get too fancy or strange.

A. :)

nelie 10-15-2010 12:42 PM

Well one thing I'd say is there aren't different kind of vegetarians in terms of vegetarians who eat certain types of meats, I'd say there are different type of omnivores :) Vegetarians don't eat any meat including fish. Now you might have Lacto-Ovo vegetarians who eat dairy and eggs, Ovo who eat eggs but not dairy, lacto who eat dairy but not eggs and then vegans who eat neither.

I'd say do the best you can and I can understand the hesitancy of eating veggie burgers cooked on the same grill and you could try requesting that veggie burgers be cooked on a dedicated veggie portion of the grill or what not. As far as inconveniencing family, the only inconvenience would be if they cooked something expecting you'd eat it and you didn't tell them that you don't eat that anymore. I'd just tell them that you are glad to bring your own food and some people will make adjustments. For example, if I go to my inlaws, we'll have vegan meals because they figure they can do without animal products for a single meal. For thanksgiving, if they want turkey, they'll cook it on a different day than when we are visiting. We never requested that they change but they did.

And I'd also say educate yourself on nutrition. One of my biggest concerns going vegan was being able to know what I needed to eat in terms of nutrients so I learned and explained to my family and they were accepting. My husband had the most concerns but through learning and discussing what I'd learn, he was good with it and he also went vegan.

Iianae 10-15-2010 03:06 PM

I went Vegetarian over a year ago. Never looked back and don't miss it one bit. Husband and kids are not vegetarian but we make it work and now it's like natural. My one suggestion is get used to reading lables...alot. It helps and is very eye opening. Also, just because it says "vegetable" in it doesn't mean there isn't hidden meat, for instance...alot of places use a beef broth in their soups etc.

Suzanne 3FC 10-15-2010 06:38 PM

I'm not a vegetarian, I'm a person :dizzy: But I eat a mostly plant based diet. I will occasionally (and rarely) eat seafood (not farmed) but the vast majority of my meals are plant based. Sister Jennifer and her husband are the same, tho their son eats meat.

Most of our family eat meat and chicken makes an appearance at all of our family dinners. It was difficult to get them to understand at first. They thought cooking with chicken broth was ok. If someone brought a casserole, they would ask if I could just pick out the chicken. They didn't get it. Could I pick out the juice, the blood, the screams of agony they endured during their short, tortured lives?

However, we've taken steps to change that. Jennifer and I have each brought fantastic meatless meals to every dinner. The focus of our dinners has changed and vegetables seem to be the main dish more often than not. My parents are also going mainly meatless and are enjoying it. If a dinner does involve grilling burgers or chicken, they are considerate and grill our portabella mushrooms first. I've even noticed the number of mushrooms is overtaking the number of burgers.

It takes time and patience to get people to understand. I don't understand why, because the reasons for making choices like this are very clear. Still, food traditions are almost like a religion to some families. I think some people would feel more comfortable telling their parents they are having an affair with a married man than they are going veggie :lol:

I'm guessing your meal plan is prepaid and you can't afford to supplement it with packed lunches? College is tough on the budget. Does your cafeteria offer seafood, assuming you still want to eat it?

katybelle 10-16-2010 11:00 AM

Thank you all so much for the advice. I'm taking it all into consideration. :)

Suzanne 3FC - I like your outlook. With where I am right now, I think my best option will be to have a mostly plant based diet. My cafeteria generally does not serve seafood, and whereas I can buy some things to keep in my dorm, I only have a small refrigerator and a microwave. I think if I gradually take away meat it will be easier for me. All of this will probably just be trial and error until I figure out what works for me. :) Thanks so much.

Wildflower 10-17-2010 06:26 PM

Does your cafeteria have a salad bar?

Mine did, and it was stocked with tofu, beans and hard boiled eggs to add to whatever rice and veggie side dishes I got from the hot line. It also had vegetarian soups on it.

Although I enjoyed the salads, I did eat veggie burgers about every day in college. Sometimes twice a day. Always with carrots. The vegetarian entrees we had were always very cheesy/eggy casseroles that I didn't want to eat at the time because I was always watching fat content (I weighed 110 lbs throughout college. lol). We also had veggie/cheese pizza usually.

So...i lived on veggie burgers and survived, but I couldn't eat them for years after college.

I would encourage you to talk to the head of food services and see what they can do to provide something vegetarian. They might be willing to whip something up for you or they might put more options on the menu or point out options you might not have realized were vegetarian.

fatmac 10-17-2010 06:53 PM

I agree with talking to the head of food service. When I was in college, there was a staff dietician for the dining halls! He or she will be able to point you in the right direction. I would be VERY surprised if you sought out this assistance, and they responded that you're SOL. They'll give you options!

katybelle 10-18-2010 12:21 AM

That's a really good idea. I'll do some research and talk to the head of the catering business that is in charge of our cafeteria. I know I have some options with the salad bar and such... I just wish there were more! If I had a full blown kitchen (and perhaps a little more time), I'd be making wonderful vegetarian meals for myself. I love to cook and I'm itching to go home so I can try some new recipes. :D

The one thing that I've noticed about my cafeteria over the last few days is that if one wants something out of the norm (like a grilled cheese or a veggie burger), one must be willing to wait for a long time. They have plenty of regular burgers cooking at any given time, but they have to go to the back of the kitchen to get the veggie burgers, and even then it takes a long time for them to cook. I suppose it'll just be something I have to get used to, but it'll be worth it.

EsmeCullen 10-24-2010 08:29 AM

Im a lacto ovo vegetarian. I dont eat meat or use animal products, but I still drink milk and eat eggs (I get eggs straight from a local farm from a friend who has chooks as a hobby).

I occasionally get cravings - but most of the time, I am not bothered by not eating meat, I dont miss it or think about it every day; and as such, walking past the meat section in the supermarket makes me gag.

Give it a try - you will be surprised.

And good work on watching Meet your Meat - its very confronting to watch, but I am glad it got you thinking!

EsmeCullen 10-24-2010 08:31 AM

Also - my parents were not supportive of me going veggie - but they accept it now, they are more worried I am just not getting enough Iron etc.

My Dad thinks I am a little crazy; but my parents have always known that I feel its the right thing to do.

vatkins22 10-26-2010 06:45 AM

The best thing you can do is prepare as much for yourself as you can! I've found that's the only way to be sure you're getting a meal in. Does your cafeteria offer salads or other fresh vegetables or fruits? Veg. soups are always great as well! Inexpensive and easy. I know what it's like to have to eat on campus... from what I've seen, not many small cafeterias can be as veg. friendly as we would like! :)

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