As my gradual transition from carnivore to pescatarian to vegetarian has happened rather quickly this year, it has been a challenge to keep seafood out of my diet in “meaty” situations. Frankly, I’m the only non-meat eating date, friend, daughter, or sister in my close circle. When I’m eating in a restaurant or food court that only offers salad as a vegetarian option, I truly feel discouraged from sticking to a vegetarian-only lifestyle. I love delicious food and hate for my diet to cause my palette suffering.
But sometimes, a little persistence and searching can go a long way in finding a scrumptious vegetarian meal. Recently, I was walking around a popular food market in Philadelphia that’s saturated with soul food and sweets.
Just as I was about to succumb to another salad, I saw a packed food stand that catered specifically to vegetarians. As I waited in line for a vegetarian philly cheesesteak, there were multiple conversations occurring between strangers. Some were simply happy to find a vegetarian spot in a market full of meat-serving stations; others shared their journeys toward becoming vegetarian.
When I thought about it, I realized that my decision to go vegetarian didn’t arise purely out of nutrition, it also was the community and its strength in promoting health as a lifestyle. It’s always good to find other vegetarians in the least expected places.
Vegetarians: what motivates you to keep strong in meat-dominated eating spaces? Weigh in.
What motivates me is the fact that it’s not only good for animals(that’s just a big plus to me)… it helps save the planet. Choosing not to eat meat is an almost political choice for me. I really believe that if the demand for meat was to decline if people choose to become vegetarian, production would also decline and the world would be a much better place.
Thank you for writing this article. I really loved it!
Try being a vegan in the south. My wife & I can’t even eat out…within a 60 mile radius of our home. Good thing she is an excellent cook. Which is great for the girlish figure we are both trying to achieve, lol. But we do miss the social atmosphere of resturaunts.
Vegetarians should know what they’re getting themselves into and have purpose. I think that’s the key to staying encouraged: If you have strong reasons and you’re sincere, just keep remembering why you’re a vegetarian in the first place. That has always worked for me.
Vegetarians should understand that:
1) They will rarely be accommodated and their motives will be questioned
2) They need to be prepared and be willing to plan ahead of time if they want to eat out. E.g. Using websites like Yelp to see what establishments are vegetarian-friendly before embarking on vacation
3) If they want a good meal then they should pack it. In other words, cooking your own meals will take you further than relying on the lunch spots near you job, home or family members, because again, you will rarely be accommodated
4) Vegetarianism can inadvertently be socially isolating when hanging out and dining with friends and family. Be prepared.
If you don’t want to deal with these things, don’t be a vegetarian.
I think the reality of living in an anti-vegetarian society will ultimately weed out those who never had strong reasons for becoming vegetarian in the first place. I think anyone who decides to eat a plant-based diet in this country needs to be cognizant of the challenges highlighted above.
I believe the tides are starting to turn and that businesses are realizing there are more and more people seeking a plant based diet. I have seen more and more restaurants offering vegetarian selections compared to 5 years ago. I am excited for this new wave of health that seems to be sweeping the nation. While there are still challenges it looks really hopeful.