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Advice from a Vegetarian: Don’t Be A Vegetarian

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Don’t be a vegetarian. No amount of love for animals, or the environment, or even the promise of weight loss is worth giving up meat, worth giving up Jollibee’s Chickenjoy or BreadTalk’s Pork Floss, and worth giving up the chance to eat something with bacon for every meal of the day. Those will be the kinds of silly food you’ll miss–not the steak, not the rack of lamb, not the salmon sashimi.

Don’t be a vegetarian. Because unless you’re rolling in dough (the green kind), chances are you won’t be able to afford eating at veg-friendly places everyday. When your only choice is McDonald’s, you’re stuck with fries that go straight to your thighs. At Jollibee, at least you have the criss-cut option–cheese or sour cream. But still, there’s nothing worse than looking at the menu, your eyes shooting straight to the vegetables section and seeing that every veggie dish actually contains ground meat, fish, or simply doesn’t sound appetizing. It can get so bad that I’m not sure whether it’s better or worse for you to find no veggie dishes at all, forcing you to subsist on mashed potatoes or leche flan.

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Don’t be a vegetarian. Your friends, God bless them, will have to consider your needs all the time. You will be the onus and unwanted conscience that weighs down their decisions at every mealtime. You don’t want to be a wet blanket, making them feel bad about the grilled liempo (with unlimited rice!) they just ordered. “It’s okay, kahit saan!” you’ll say whenever you’re asked where you want to eat, with you (and your rumbling stomach) resigned to the fact that you probably won’t find anything decent to eat wherever you end up going. It’s not that you (or your stomach) are complaining; you’re used to compromising. You’ll just find something else to eat at another time. No matter what you do, though, your friends will still feel guilty. They’ll ask you what you’re going to order, call the whole table’s attention to your “special” needs. You lie, saying you can eat at home or that you’ve already eaten, as you take a sip of your bottomless iced tea.

Don’t be a vegetarian. Eating with new people will be a nightmare. They’ll offer you pizza, watch you pick off the pepperoni and italian sausage (you’ve learned not to be so picky), and ask you why you’re doing that. Either someone else at the table will say it, might eve be you, but you know it’s going to be said eventually. You’ll be outed as a herbivore. And then, the inevitable follow-up questions start to come. “Oh cool, since when? So what do you eat, salads lang?” Eventually you’ll get used to explaining—there’s this book I read, this video I watched, this life-changing experience I had. But there’s always going to be some awkwardness, all eyes on you as you tell a story you’ve told a hundred times before. The worst is when people actually argue with you. Eventually you’ll have no strength to argue back and defend yourself. It’s exhausting.

Don’t be a vegetarian. You’ll have unrealistic expectations of yourself. I’m vegetarian, why don’t I look like Amanda Griffin. You’ll lose weight at the beginning, not eating Spam or hotdogs for breakfast will do that to you, but then you’ll soon realize that when you don’t go for a vegetable-based dish, you’re stuck with carbs, like pasta, and lots of it. And we all know where carbs go the moment they touch your lips, right?

Don’t be a vegetarian. You’ll have to learn how to cook. You can’t eat processed food every day after all, so your plan to buy out an entire supermarket’s supply of pancit canton goes out the window. You’ll have to learn to eat unfamiliar dishes. You start getting creative with your tofu, tempeh, quinoa, and kale. You’ll have to start learning the names of every single condiment, all to make your sauces and stir-fry taste better. And cooking takes up so much time, definitely more than it’ll take to buy a cup of rice and ulam at the nearest carinderia. So don’t be a vegetarian. Hassle eh.

But the thing is, if you do decide to become a vegetarian, that’s when you realize the strength of your convictions. Maybe you won’t last a year, or maybe you’ll last forty, but for that one year (or those forty), you’ll know what it takes for you to take a stand–despite being broke, despite the criticism, despite the odd looks and questions, despite the inconvenience, and despite the uncalled for judgment from strangers. When you do decide to become vegetarian, you make a choice. No, I do not want those buffalo wings. No, I am strong enough to resist that cupcake with bacon and maple syrup frosting on it. Well, wait, maybe I can just have the frosting?

You’ll find joy in discovering new surprises on the menu that you would have otherwise passed over for that steak. You’ll find a great Indian restaurant, order a random dish on their extensive vegetarian menu, and wonder how it’s possible for a dish to not have meat and still taste like Diwali in your mouth. That’s the moment you’ll realize that great food doesn’t require meat. Being vegetarian just might be the single greatest thing to happen to your taste buds once you move beyond arugula and thousand island dressing in your choice of salad.

You’ll realize, one day as you’re eating a sad plate of adobong kangkong while your friends are chowing down on crispy pata, that there’s more to you than simply being vegetarian. It doesn’t define the entirety of your identity. There’s more to a person than his or her diet.

Personal sacrifice, no matter how small a difference it appears to create, always reverberates to a greater scale. Every little bit helps. Knowing that you’re positively contributing to animal welfare and rights, knowing you’ve made an effort to be more environmentally friendly, and knowing that you may be helping to curb world hunger in your own small way, are all personally fulfilling as well as globally constructive.

Most people think of vegetarianism or veganism as a grand undertaking but it’s not as romantic as it seems, to be honest. If you’re vegetarian, you’re fighting little battles with yourself every day. You’re dealing with little frustrations and trivial inconveniences, but since you are vegetarian, you’ll know exactly if and why it’s worth it. Your reason might be different from mine, but it’s yours, and that makes it as valid as any other. It’s what pushes you to wake up a little earlier than you should everyday to make your lunch because you know you probably won’t find anything you can eat at the cafeteria.


[Sources: Frabz]

32 Responses

  1. This is utter drivel written by a moron. I blame the poor education in this country. Grow up, loser

  2. I haven’t met any other vegetarians in the Philippines. I would have thought the widespread abominations of tinned meats and Jollibee would motivate people to try something different, but it’s like asking them to go without eating rice for one day of their lives.

  3. Just a heads-up…McDonald’s fries are NOT vegetarian. They are coated with a layer of beef fat. You can go to their website and look at the ingredients. If you’re really not eating meat, don’t eat this either, as it is simply a powdered form of rendered meat.

  4. I’ve only been vegetarian for a few months and the worst part really is being that “unwanted conscience” at every mealtime. This article is very comforting and I love the sense of diplomacy in your writing. Thank you for this!

  5. I decided to become a pescetarian (no meat and poultry) and only lasted for about three months (because I missed my Chicken Joy, KFC chicken and Quarter Pounder). In that short span of time, i experienced the daily struggles of being on a restricted diet and as a college student since our diets are basically composed of 90% junk. It was hard for me to look for seafood/fish dishes around campus, especially since im on a student budget and cooking every morning is such an effort. So, now, I have so much respect to the vegetarians and vegans out there for being able to resist the many temptations. It’s just a matter of self control and respect for one’s personal decisions.

  6. I was vegetarian for a while (I needed to cut weight so I can compete in a MMA tournament). It was initially a struggle since my family were foodies and we always go out to eat every Sunday. And, I think the hardest part of it all was that I also counted my calorie intake. My daily calorie consumption was about 1,400 calories a day and I didn’t have cheat days because the tournament was in 2 months and I still needed to lose 30 lbs. Unfortunately, my weight-loss was plateauing. So, I really needed to be strict with my diet.
    The good thing about my vegetarian/ weight-cutting experience is that I learned how to get creative with my meals. In fact, I can proudly say that I can cook a mean vegetarian pasta because of my vegetarian days. All my classmates were even jealous of my ‘baons’ even if it was vegetarian and low calorie. 🙂
    Good thing I’m bulking up now!!!

  7. Spot on! When I was vegetarian (I stopped a year ago), a daily struggle was giving mini lectures on the difference between a vegan and a vegetarian, and reminding people that fish is not a vegetable. 🙂

    1. I totally agree! Sometimes I say “I don’t eat meat” instead of “I’m vegetarian”, and then people automatically offer me fish.

  8. Spot on! When I was vegetarian (I stopped a year ago), a daily struggle was giving mini lectures on the difference between a vegan and a vegetarian, and reminding people that fish is not a vegetable. 🙂

  9. Well written article 🙂 Sometimes I find it frustrating that the world is not cruelty-free yet and that I have to compromise until the rest of the omnivores (hopefully) catch up with us. In the mean time, I tell myself that all I could do is do my part and prove how dedicated I am, in hopes of inspiring people to also do the same and give up animal consumption.

  10. I think you spent a little too much time on the first (“Don’t be a vegetarian”) part that I almost heeded her advice and was about to run to the nearest Jollibee and get my chicken joy. LOL I mean, c’mon — that’s 60% of your article! Not good for someone who’s only on her 5th day and still trying to convince herself. hahaha

    1. I meant:
      * almost heeded YOUR advice
      * still trying to convince herself to pursue this lifestyle

      1. Hmm, I wrote this article to talk about the little caveats of being vegetarian, and not necessarily to convince people to be vegetarian or vegan, on the assumption that vegetarian readers have already convinced themselves to stay meat-free 🙂 Maybe you can go through this article of mine to help you with “convincing” yourself: https://www.pepper.ph/why-i-stopped-eating-animals-2/ 🙂

  11. I was a vegan for a year and a half, and now just plain vegetarian and I’m still too hard on myself for not sticking to my vegan guns (veguns?) because it’s just too difficult, given my profession (former food writer (because I went vegan), some time PR manager, and now magazine editor). But I’m eschewing meat because of my health. Everytime I do give in (like when I travel) and I get sick, I am reminded why I decided to become vegan in the first place and at the same time just compromised by adding eggs and dairy to my diet (because a foodie cannot live on plants alone, no matter how creative I get with them).

    And you’re right about realizing the strength of my convictions–and how saying no to oh so delicious bacon and its ilk shows me everyday that I am stronger than my cravings. 🙂

  12. One of the best articles I’ve read on pepper.ph.

    I personally don’t know any vegetarians myself, but I can only imagine the little sufferings they go through each day. This is great personal insight, thanks for sharing Giselle 🙂

  13. I’ve been a vegetarian for 13 years now, and all the carnivores around me (family and the like) know about it and respect my choice, despite being reluctant to at the beginning. So now, if I want to eat with some family, they’ll always have some dish on the side that doesn’t contain meat.

    Sure, it can be hard at times, and sure, it’s awkward. But if you stick to your beliefs and reasons, the people who oppose your dietary choices will eventually come to respect them.

    1. My family’s been more than supportive of my decision (especially cause my 2 other siblings also decided to stop eating meat around the same time I did) and it’s great bonding for us siblings to find great meat-free dishes to eat together. Yeah, definitely questions are unavoidable, but it’s great to have that kind of support 🙂

  14. Thank you so much for that! You’ve made me feel stronger regarding my stance on being a vegetarian. I can totally relate to everything you said here. It’s so frustrating when people judge you, but you reminded me why I’ve wanted to be like this in the first place.:)

  15. I share your sentiments. I’ve been veg since 2008 and vegan for I don’t know how long. FYI, McDonald’s fries are not even vegetarian. They season it with beef and/or fry it in lard. Gross. Everyday is a struggle, yes, but we can do it!

  16. I’ve always been impressed with vegetarians since I don’t have the will power to be one. Great piece, Giselle!:)

  17. “Personal sacrifice, no matter how small a difference it appears to create, always reverberates to a greater scale.”

    Thanks for sharing this. It’s very graphic, and it covers “both sides of the patty”. 🙂

  18. “Personal sacrifice, no matter how small a difference it appears to create, always reverberates to a greater scale.”

    Thanks for sharing this. It’s very graphic, and it covers “both sides of the patty”. 🙂

  19. I’ve always suspected that vegetarians have these daily struggles. This piece confirms it and then some. I can never have the strength to commit myself to something like this, so way to go, Giselle! Lakas mo. 🙂

  20. I’m a hard-core carnivore, but I kinda love this and resolve to be more understanding of my vegetarian buddies. 🙂

  21. I’ll probably never be a vegetarian, but I would love for 60-70% of my daily intake to be veggies and fruits.

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