Hello. I am interested in becoming a vegetarian, because I am trying to regain my health. The texture and taste of meat has never been appealing to me, but I eat it for protein. How to I break it to my family that I would like to become vegetarian? I am 17, btw. How can I get the protein that I need without eating meat? Where can I find recipes that are family friendly? Thanks so much. I was so pleased to find this — I became a vegetarian (the only one in a meat eating family) at age12. The best way to break it to your family is to do so not by telling them but by just starting it, and doing it responsibly and in a healthy way. It’s not as easy as it sounds to do well. Your best bet is to go back to the good ole fashioned food pyramid. Make sure that your diet has plenty of whole grains (not refined), fruits and vegetables. You say vegetarian, not vegan, so I’ll assume your’e still doing eggs and dairy (some people still eat fish and other seafood, I don’t, it’s up to you). Eggs and dairy, in low-fat healthy forms (eggs not cooked in oil, skim milk, yoghurt) are fantastic sources of protein (and lots of other nutrients too.). You can also get protein from beans, although it’s a bit tiresome/difficult to eat just beans by themselves everyday (often we eat them in forms where you don’t actually eat that many beans, like in soups). Nuts are a good source of protein, however they are also high in fat (and often salt) and calories so use them sparingly. Tofu can be a great meat substitute in a lot of recipes, however it can be difficult to learn to prepare (and is not meant to be eaten by itself). “Fake meats” (often made from soy) can have good protein contents depending on the kind (Morningstar Farms is a typical brand). Check the labels. It’s also time to start cooking. Your family will still want to eat meat, so you may have to prepare your own main dishes to eat along with meatless side dishes that they prepare already. Try this website for recipes: . Here’s some things that you may not have considered that you must be prepared for as part of a vegetarian lifestyle: 1. ) Grocery shopping. You’re going to have to look for some of your own items and ingredients for the food you prepare (hopefully your parents are willing to add them to their grocery lists). Some vegetarian preprepared foods are expensive.
2. ) Cooking. As I said, you’re going to have to prepare a lot of food yourself. This might involve making a lot of ingredients, having them on hand to use frequently, and learning to prepare difficult things (like tofu). Be prepared to do research and practice before you become an expert.
3. ) Eating out. Most restaurants offer a vegetarian option, but what do you do when everyone’s going to a steakhouse or other meat-centered restaurant? Be prepared to make a lot of meals out of side dishes (you get used to it). Learning how to order takes a while. Look for items where the meat is served in chunks, often you can ask to have it left out. Items with meat sauces or meat cooked in (or anything with ground beef) are out, the vast majority of restaurants will not be able to take it out for you.
4. ) Eating at other people’s houses. This one is often a personal call. Depending on how well you know the person, you may choose to tell them that you are a vegetarian or not. People you know better will be fine with it, however when your host does not know you well and is preparing a large meal for many people, do not even mention it before the meal. It will come across as you expecting them to make something separate for you or alter their meal plan. When it comes time to eat and meat is offered, politely and cheerfully decline it saying that you are a vegetarian. They will often ask more (and/or lament that they didn’t make something separate) but it’s best to insist that it’s not a bother and that you have plenty to eat with all the side dishes. Rare is the instance when you will find nothing that does not contain meat/ you cannot eat around the meat. If this does happen, however, it is acceptable to gently and discretely let the host know that you do not eat meat and ask if there is perhaps some leftover plain pasta/potatoes/whatever (base it off what’s in the meal, then minus the meat). Often they will find you something to eat. Just be prepared to have less fancy meals.
5. ) Travel. Some countries are very vegetarian friendly, while others are not. India is a vegetarian’s dreamland. Eastern Europe is a vegetarian’s nightmare. When going abroad, research the typical cuisine of the nation beforehand. Learn some typical dishes that do not contain mean or contain removable meat. Research where you’ll be staying, looking for vegetarian-friendly places to eat. Big cities tend to have a wider variety of meals and tend to be more vegetarian-friendly than small towns. Do not try and ask the server for the dish without meat (especially if it’s non-english speaking). Not only can this be difficult to communicate, but in some cultures or countries it is EXTREMELY rude, or they simply do not do it (France comes to mind). Be prepared to east a lot of bread and cheese and fruit. I hope this helps. I love helping new vegetarians so feel free to email me if you want anymore advice.