Vegetarian Failure

To all vegetarians/vegans out there, how do you do it? I ask this question not because I cannot live without meat, the complete opposite! I ask it because since I was 10 years old I’ve been wanting to steer away from it, the only problem? I do not know how to properly balance my meals.

It all started on a sunny day in Venezuela, road tripping from Caracas to Falcon. After long ours in the car, my brothers and I started playing I spy with my little eye. It was my turn and I had spied the biggest truck I had ever seen with the most beautiful cows my 10-year-old eyes had ever witnessed. Why are all those “vacas” there? Where are they going? Of course… My smart-ass 13-year-old brother could not contain the excitement that, for once, he knew the answer to this question: EL MATADERO. Just as some of you are wondering, I wondered myself; what the f*ck is that? The butcher, people. The beautiful cows were going to be decapitated, at least that was what my brother told me. I started bawling my eyes out yelling, “No! Let’s buy them! Let’s buy them all and save them! I am NEVER eating meat again, NEVER!”… Minutes later I was eating a hamburger at our final destination. Hey… Do not judge me to harshly, my heart was in the right place.

That experience sparked something on me, I could not taste meat the same way. I was raised eating the traditional: beef, chicken and fish; anything out of that group was considered a pet. No ducks, no rabbits, and absolutely NO LOBSTER. Remember my 13-year-old brother? This time he was 16. We were at a restaurant in Colombia and I had befriended a beautiful lobster. I was so naive I thought they were in a tank so people could admire their beauty. I did not understand the bands around their claws though, and back at it again, my brother made his fabulous appearance: It is because these are for eating. Of course, he selected my friend and life was never the same. Looking at the lobster on his plate made me ask myself, “What are we doing?” “Why is my brother such a jerk? “How do they even cook them?” If you have learned anything so far about me, I guess you can picture my reaction when the last question was answered.

Fast forward 12 years and I am still asking those same questions. So much that after befriending vegetarians and vegans, I became one myself. I must add though, not because of their influence, but because they guided me through a journey I had been wanting to embark many years ago. However, two years into the process I realized that vegetarianism was not as romantic as many would think. It is funny because as soon as I let people know that I am a vegetarian, they immediately assume I am healthy. I wish I could say I am, but this is not the case. Yes, I do not eat meat and that already makes me and the environment healthier; however, it is not all about ditching the animal. You must incorporate a balanced meal — rich in plant-based protein, minerals, etc— in order to achieve the healthiest of diets.

Let’s be honest, with a hectic schedule and the budget of a college student, what kind of diet do you imagine? If you thought about Ramen, pasta, bread, and Mac&Cheese, you, my friend, have successfully guessed my diet and the diet of any other college student. I must point out though, that ignorance is another factor that leads to unhealthy eating habits. In my case, I just do not know—nor I’m creative enough— to cook colorful, fresh dishes. My aunt always calls me out on that, stating that I eat like crap. Which it’s funny, because the fact that they do eat meat does not mean they have a less shitty diet. I have several acquaintances that were once vegetarians and stopped because, once again, they had unhealthy eating habits. People, unhealthy habits apply to any diet.

Vegeterianism has been a long journey for me. This has been a process filled with criticism and skepticism from some family members and friends(?). The constant reminder that I do not have a green and colorful diet makes me feel like a vegetarian failure. Regardless of such negativity, I am still proud of myself for sticking up to my values and changing my behavior as a response to my cognitive dissonance. I would never shame a meat eater because 3 years ago that was me. Let’s respect and, in any case, hold hands and educate each other.

How do you feel about vegetarianism/veganism? Let’s open up, of course, with respect!

All the love,

Gaia
Gaia (Co-writer)

 

57 Replies to “Vegetarian Failure”

  1. I am a dairy-free plant slanter, not a full-on vegetarian/vegan. This works well for me, as a mom cooking for an entire family.

    If I were a vegetarian cooking for one, though, I’d get a wok, stir fry a bunch of veggies every couple of days and use them up with whole-grain pastas, brown rice, quinoa, eggs etc. Stir fry refrigerates quite well. Add a bit of canned legumes (refrigerate what you can’t eat), top with some nuts and you’ve got a balanced meal. Add some dark chocolate for dessert and you’re golden. Good luck!!!

    Liked by 6 people

    1. YUUUUUMMM!!! Thank you for the advice. Growing up I was not a big fan of dark chocolate, but I will sure give it a try! It is so nutritious!!!

      Hugs,

      Gaia

      Liked by 1 person

    2. This is so relatable, I’d love to eat less meat, and I love vegetable based meals, but I struggle to get enough protein as I don’t like tofu or nuts much, so I always ebd up eating meat

      Liked by 1 person

      1. As long as you eat the required amount of calories from a variety of plant foods you will get enough protein. The real question is fibre. Most people consume way too much protein and underestimate how important fibre is! 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Hahahahaha, I was going to write about how my friends “returned to the dark side” on the piece. I preferred not to use that term but I love how open and humorous you are about it! Also… YES BEANS! ❤

      Gaia

      Liked by 1 person

  2. How do I feel about vegetarianism/veganism?

    Glad you asked.

    Several years ago I woke up to the hard, harsh reality of animal agriculture, and like flipping a switch, I said no more. Been vegan ever since; never looked back. I’m sixty-four now, and stronger, fitter, and more clear-headed then I’ve ever been. I bike, walk, swim, (admire rock-climbing (if that counts)) and do an incredible amount of chin-ups every morning.

    But, even if veganism weren’t healthier, and even if I didn’t feel better, stronger, more alert, I’d be a vegan. As I see it, humans have always exaggerated their importance. Prior to veganism, I was of the same mindset, thought we were special, us humans. Then I realized it was only us and the gods we created to reassert our self-glorifying convictions. We’re no more important than the animals, or anything else in the universe. Probably less, if you look at what humans have done to the world. So, why shouldn’t all sentients have the right to live a life free of fear, in peace? I cannot think of a reason. But even if I could, I’d be vegan.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Thank you for sharing your point of view and story, Peter! For how long have you been vegan? You are such a role model, WOW!
      Your love for animals and nature is inspiring, keep spreading so much positivity and creating awareness.

      Big hug,

      Gaia

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I wish I could say I’ve been a vegan for decades, but to my embarrassment, I have only been one for eight years. Why so long to grasp the interrelationship and respect for life on earth? Why so long to rend the veil of common perceptions and look with my own eyes, to reason with my own mind? I don’t know. Other than being a slow learner. But I’ve learned a thing or two in my final spell. To have peace, if we truly desire this (and therein lies the crux, humanity’s selective and wavering devotions), then we must first prove worthy; peace will not prevail in the ambiance of violence. How can it?

        Thank you for your inspiring compliment, Gaia. It is serendipitous as I have once again felt the need to resolve myself to quiet anonymity, to refrain from blogging, from sharing the study of my philosophical views to busying myself with muted mundanity.

        Peace, strength, courage.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Hi, pescatarian here. The majority of my meals are cooked at home, and I’ve always loved vegetables, so vegetarian meals are often on my menu. I picked two hearty vegs that I love to “substitute” for meat: eggplant and mushrooms. When I need comfort food, these guys make great “burgers”, lasagna, spaghetti, bisque, etc. Also, simple meals are key for my vegetarian aspirations. For example, last night I sauteed mushrooms & onion, threw them in quesadillas and served it w/rice & beans. Simplicity & humility are a vegetarians best friend 🙂

    Liked by 5 people

    1. HOOOOLY COW!!! (yes, cows are Holy :)) THAT QUESADILLA SOUNDS AMAZING!!! I just had mushrooms and rice for lunch, I am proud of myself hehe. I will definitely have to try your recipe though. Thank you for sharing ❤

      Hugs,

      Gaia

      Like

  4. I am also a vegetarian (albeit a bit very healthy one) but I still feel like it’s done wonders for me. I feel like I am a lot healthier than I was before as I used to eat a lot of really processed meat. I feel like there are a lot of assumptions about vegetarians being healthy and I’m just over here eating cake 😂😂😂 Ah well, at least I’m helping the environment!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. CAKE *drooling*
      Sweets are definitely my guilty pleasure, I always have something sweet and then eat a veggie to feel that I am being healthy haha.

      Love,

      Gaia

      Liked by 1 person

      1. 😂😂😂 I love that! I do something similar and try to have some fruit after I have anything sweet 😂 trick your brain into thinking your healthy! 😆

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I wasn’t in college when I went vegetarian, so I can’t speak to that. (But we also really only had campus food as our option—there wasn’t anywhere to cook for real—which would have made it harder.) When we started, we used a lot of meat substitutes. Over time, we found more and more recipes with more and more veggies. At this point, 11 years later, I rarely use meat substitutes (occasionally a Tofurkey Italian sausage is necessary) and we have a healthy, colorful diet. I have a “tried it” board on Pinterest where you can see some of them, along with a note about whether they were good or not and why (it’s not letting me post a link). I have a recipe share group on FB (again, can’t post a link) though not everyone who has added has added veg or healthy necessarily. (It’s also not a highly active group.)

    If you make a point of having a salad with one meal every day, it’s a good starting point. Get creative with what you add to it. Lettuce, tomato, shredded carrot does not a delicious salad make. Hit me up if you want to have a more detailed conversation.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I had just quit being a vegetarian. I loved it. Then after awhile I felt a little too left out at events. I just thought to myself now to respect the animals and try to buy good farm raised ones. Being a vegetarian definitely had me in the kitchen trying new recipes. I missed eating my grandmas cooking though. There had to be a median. I don’t have to eat all meat but after being a vegetarian I learned to love my veggies and fruits even more. That was the most important part.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. You might have noticed that many traditional diets are based on grains and beans – corn and beans in the Americas, rice [or millet] and tofu [soybeans] in China, couscous [wheat] and garbanzo beans in North Africa, rice and dal [lentils] in India, rice and tempeh [soybeans] in Indonesia. There’s a reason for that. (Read “Diet for a Small Planet” by Frances Moore Lappe if you want a deep understanding of that.) Start there as a base, add fresh fruits and vegetables (and lots of cheese if you’re from Wisconsin;) and you’ll be fine.

    Liked by 4 people

  8. I can now wander guilt free past fields of cows and sheep. They are beautiful and aren’t going to end up on my plate. It’s a good feeling and worth the heaps of beans.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Being Vegitarian is a life style. You can always find the best Menu for any budgets. Venezuela 🇻🇪 do have loads of Vegitarian food too I have traveled Caracus tens of times. Plan up the series of veggies u get and streamline your diet which suits the hour of the day. I am a Vegitarian by default since birth I lived in various parts of earth I never find any issues to prepare my delicious diets and I am happy being fit and perfect with my health even. Every country have its own way of handling food ensure you eat rich proteins and Vitamin with a small portion of carbos. Don’t forget to add rich fruits of the seasons and u never find boring with change of diets. It needs a well planned start and there after you will be doing great. It’s good you post this issue there will be many experts here on web can sure give suggestions and finally you are the one to plan and execute your diet. All the best… Cheers. 🌷

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Lots of good tips! I tried two different methods of vegetarianism and failed. Not because I didn’t enjoy it, but it was difficult when hubby and kids were not on board. My son would come in and say, “I want meat!” and because he was such a scrawny kid, I caved. He has never put on bulk. Hubby is a meat and potato kind of guy.
    The two methods were a Dr. Benesch diet, (it was a fad in the 70’s) which consisted of fresh prepared juices of celery, carrot and apple prior to each meal followed by, in the morning a piece lettuce, choice of fruit (no more than two) and a handful of nuts, primarily cashews, almonds and walnuts. Nuts being the protein. Lunch was anything goes in salads followed by a handful of nuts. Dinner was the only cooked meal. Steamed veggies of choice, a baked potato with butter and lemon (no salt) and of course preceded by a salad with sprouts, veggies and greens (no iceberg). The alternate to potato was short grain brown rice and beans. The tedious part was the juicing. You needed to have tons of space in the fridge for the goods to juice and the mess to clean up after, but boy did I feel great. Not much was taboo veggie wise that I can recall. Bananas were limited though.
    The other was a macrobiotic diet. Their food is mostly cooked. Brown rice and beans were a mainstay, but not terribly portable. The problem, I noticed is that my muscle tone diminished. I was still strong, I think, but I felt flabby. They did not use fruit or tomatoes or any night shades. Veggies were cut with the grain, not counter (a chi thing) and you started with the bulkiest first and going down when preparing.
    My husbands sister in law, is a vegan which does not allow any animal product whatsoever, (no milk, butter, eggs). She just had a baby and her doctor insisted she eat eggs and some dairy, but still it has not gone well, both in delivering and recuperating, so it bears having a good balance if gestating. My “friend”, on the Benesch diet, did not have those issues. She delivered a healthy, baby girl. I believe we were meant to be vegetarian, but you are right to seek counsel for a good, balanced diet. Btw. Rice and beans, together are a complete protein. You can have more rice than beans in the equation. A dollop of butter with lemon drizzled over rice… Yummy!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Sorry. I have no clue how those two comments from me got there. WordPress was acting up this morning for me, with a strangely jumpy screen. I just went to try it again and found these comments that were written while I was riding my bike, with phone in my pocket. I’d delete them if I could.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They are kind of inspirational…especially because you were riding your bike! But we can delete them on this side…may “if r” live on forever in our hearts! haha.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Great post! Love the conversations in the comments. I’ve started to be more mindful of what I’m putting in my body for environmental reasons. I’m trying to convert at least a couple meals a week to be vegetarian options and the others to have the meat not be the star of the show. The comments have given me some good ideas of meals!

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I’ve been a vegetarian for 8 years and I love it! I can never imagine going back to eating meat. The hardest part for me during my transistor, was being hungry all the time. No lie, I did the wrong thing by eating a bunch of carbs . 1 year and 50 lbs later I learned to fill up on protein instead (literal growing pains) Haha. I think the best advice I can give is to let go and everything you think a vegetarian is and learn who you are as a vegetarian. Be okay with knowing your body has to transition, which may mean you might feel hungry but our minds likes to make us think one thing, when our reality is completely different. (Like how you find yourself more hungry when you have a full fridge but when the struggle is real you can fast with the best of them). Keep trying! If you never give up, you’ll never fail!

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Very well penned! I have learned through experience to listen to the wisdom of the body (not cravings) because it will tell us what is good for it and what is not, and using a food journal to keep track. God created these bodies with His wisdom and every body has different needs! 😀 ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  15. I just started my journey in vegetarian eating for health reasons. After having given up processed foods and cooking for myself for a short time now, I can honestly say that I eat better now than I ever have. I feel great, no loss in energy, and I think my body is responding positively.

    I’ve learned that all eating comes at a cost. Either money and health with processed foods and meat-centric diets, or time and effort with vegetarian diets. I’m much more willing to pay with time and effort than with health and money. How about you?

    Like

  16. Use a meal planner such as Forks over Knives (watch the documentary Forks over Knives too) , there is a Rich Roll meal planner as well as an Engine 2 diet meal planner . That way someone else has done the balancing. All you need to do is add a B12 supplement thanks to humans sterilizing the bee jeebus out of everything
    You get amazing recipes from all the planners.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. I’ve been vegetarian for fifteen years now and I have found it to be as you say-it takes a careful balance or otherwise a person will find himself in poor health. The effort is worth it! I has a cousin ,who is a schoolteacher, tell me one time that my kids were the healthiest kids she had ever seen!

    Liked by 2 people

  18. I feel the same. The lack of protein is key for me. I can’t seem to gage how much is in all the veggie stuff like I do with fish and meat. Thanks for this great post 🙏🌻

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Get a couple of good cookbooks like One Dish Vegan and Power Plates. Lovely, tasty, satisfying vegan food.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. I’m happy with my decision to be vegetarian, but I definitely don’t eat healthy, either! I continue to try, because the recipes I look at and meals my friends make with fresh vegetables look amazing! Onward and upward…

    Liked by 2 people

  21. I was a vegetarian for 12 years and I also received a lot of negativity, especially from strangers who couldn’t understand my choice. But it’s ok, I know that we are all different and that for some people it is very hard (if not impossible) to see another person’s point of view.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. I understand. I was raised in an area where meat and dairy were in nearly every meal. I have been flexitarian for the last three years, and while it has been a challenge at times, I have enjoyed it for the most part. For me going full vegetarian or vegan was too much so I’ve settled on flexitarianism. I use recipe web sites for help in meal planning. They usually have numerous ideas. Look for cookbooks or cooking web sites geared towards less expensive meals. Maybe these sites will help: https://www.budgetbytes.com/category/recipes/beansandgrains/
    https://hurrythefoodup.com/vegetarian-recipes-for-students/

    While I’m always on the lookout for some new recipe, once I find something I like, I usually stick with it as it helps me to keep eating well. Just keep going and keep meal planning- that helps me a lot. And eating less meat & dairy will get easier as you transition away from college and have access to a bit more money. I don’t know if you have any discount food stores in your area, but I use places like that and they do help.

    You’re totally right on the part about people thinking you’re healthy just because you’re trying to eat less meat. My co-workers think the same thing. I think that some people just haven’t learned a lot about meat and dairy free diets and just simply don’t know. People who are on those types of diets usually ALWAYS know it’s not always about being healthy, lol.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. Hi there! I’ve been a vegetarian for about 20 years but truly my inspiration came from not wanting to be a part of slaughtering animals, instead of healthy eating. Until my father died and than being healthy also got more important. Never thought of a balanced diet and it drives me crazy when people ask me about protein. I however eat lots of fruits – making my own concoction for breakfast. Also growing up in Hungary I know all the awesome recipes for a lot of veggie based “thick soups” (fözelek). In my opinion you can pretty much make any food vegetarian that you would make with meat (except Gulyas 😀). Good luck finding your way in the world of amazing veggies!

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Great post, I struggled with this for awhile after becoming vegetarian. My first iterations were probably not the healthiest!. I get a lot of protein through beans and bean products like hummus, as well as eggs. I do a lot of variations of stir fry vegetables + grain (usually rice, but could be quinoa or pasta, with tofu or egg as protein). Also a lot of bowls that have a green, a grain, some vegetables, and dressing – both hot and cold. All types of curries. Soups in the winter. Also I LOVE smoothies and you can actually put soft tofu into a smoothie and you won’t taste it, it’s really just a protein boost! You are welcome to check out my blog for inspiration 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  25. With global warming, we will all have to eat less meat. This is no bad thing but many, myself included, will need to become adept at veggie recipes. Thanks for a great post.

    Liked by 3 people

  26. I like the Rastafarian concept of “Ital”, derived from the English word “vital” and which to many adherents corresponds roughly to vegetarian and sometimes vegan. From wikipedia: “The primary goal of adhering to an Ital diet is to increase liveliness. Livity, or the life energy that Rastafari generally believe lives within all human beings, as conferred from the Almighty. A common tenet of Rastafari beliefs is the sharing of a central Livity among living things, and what is put into one’s body should enhance Livity rather than reduce it.”

    Liked by 2 people

  27. Iron is a very important part of a vegan/vegetarian diet. I wholly suggest doing research into sources of plant-based iron to start. Feel free to send me a message if you’d like more in-depth help. I’ve been a vegetarian for nearly 14 years and am a very healthy person. 😛 I can even share my college diet.

    Liked by 2 people

  28. I’ve been vegan for almost a decade, it really helps to understand what being a healthy vegan or vegetarian means and how to build your meals. I really love Dr. McDougall’s books and his entire approach to starch based eating, it’s really simple and all his books include lots of recipes. The Fork Over Knives cookbooks etc are also AMAZING.

    Liked by 3 people

  29. I agree with you that unhealthy diet is in both vegetarian as well as non vegetarian. I, myself, am a vegetarian and since birth, but it doesn’t change the fact that i am the most unhealthy one among my peers. The stereotypical judgement says that unhealthiness comes with extra weight, chubby cheeks and thunder thighs but it is not so because there are some of my friends, who incline more towards the curvier side but they are as healthy as horse. And here me, a little bit curvy but the epitome of laziness. In my view being healthy has a direct correlation with being active. So it doesn’t matter which diet you intake bud you have to take your ass off the couch and do exercise(maybe a rigorous exercise for me). what do ya think?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree! I was just having this conversation with my son. I found a picture o myself in optimal shape and told him that I wanted to go back to it. He told me that he thought I already looked beautiful (which melted my heart), but I insisted that what it is important is how exercising makes you feel! It goes beyond looks, it is about health.

      Hugs!

      Gaia

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Yeah you are right that it goes beyond looks. With keeping you healthy exercise also boost your confident.Don’t you think?

        Liked by 3 people

  30. I only cook vegetarian (vegan mostly) as I am lactose intolerant but I occasionally eat meat. Growing up in India, even the meat eaters, cooked a lot of vegetarian food. So I can whip up a vegetarian meal in my sleep. But totally agree with you, eating veg does not mean healthy. You can make the tastiest deep fried pakodas, but they are not healthy. Enjoyed reading your post.

    Liked by 3 people

  31. Yes, the whole shaming of one’s dietary choices is a sorry state of affairs, isn’t it? Hang in there! Continue to learn and find role models. Follow veg blogs (like mine!) and get recipe ideas. You’re on the right track!
    Thanks for checking out my blog!

    Liked by 2 people

  32. Any update on your journey to be vegan/vegetarian?
    I was once successful for a month (when I came back from India).

    By the way, I liked your response about exercising for health rather than looks (although looks may follow). I exercise because at this stage of my life, thus far, I am capable 😊

    Liked by 2 people

  33. I’ve been a vegetarian for 5 years now (WOW I didn’t realize how long it’s been) and I am 23 years old. It was definitely a struggle in the beginning; my first two meatless years were just carbs carbs carbs. I had no idea what i was doing with my diet, i just knew i did not want to eat meat anymore. Your body changes all the time and you just have to change your diet with it. I’ve learned to listen to what my body needs and actually DO it. I am by no means a very healthy vegetarian but i do eat a lot cleaner than i did a few years ago. It’s all a learning curve and i encourage people to give the meatless diet a chance even though it isn’t the easiest thing! Your body (and the environment) will thank you!!

    Liked by 1 person

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