This is part 4 on becoming vegetarian or vegan. See Part 3 here.
Tip # 2. Educate yourself on what a healthy vegetarian diet is - Avoid becoming a carboterian*
A long time ago, long before I became a vegetarian - well, about 2003 anyway- I was talking on the phone with a client of mine, Lisa, when we veered into personal territory.
She mentioned that her sister had just recently died.
She'd been killed by her unhealthy vegetarian diet, Lisa lamented.
I didn't even know what a vegetarian diet was at the time. I thought it just meant a healthy diet. So imagine my shock when Lisa swore up and down that she was so upset about vegetarianism because it had killed her sister.
Years later I'd be intrigued by the vegetarian diet and research it voraciously. But Lisa's sad, resolved voice that day in 2003 was forever etched in the part of my brain that stores 'cynicism'.
However, more and more I came across healthy and vibrant people who claimed to be vegetarian. Dr Jamie was one of them.
I worked with a well known Health and Wellness company at the time. Dr Jaime was the Head of Nutrition and Medical Affairs, the smartest woman I'd ever come across, a medical doctor by trade.
Not only could she give 3-hour marathon lectures and leave you craving more of her, this woman seemed like she breathed nutrition smarts for oxygen. And she was a vegetarian.
As I familiarized myself with veganism more and more, I came to learn that, although it can be the absolute most healthy lifestyle, some of the unhealthiest people were vegetarians.
I call them carboterians.
These are people who basically eat junk vegetarian or vegan. They stopped eating meat, eggs, cheese and what not. But they replaced it with chips, bagels, breads etc.
Here is the thing though; I don't think that anybody that is an unhealthy-eating vegetarian was a healthy meat eater anyway. The difference is that when you're a meat eater, you don't have to be too consciously concerned about certain things such as eating enough protein or really watching your carb intake.
Meat provides lots of protein by default. As to whether they are actually digesting and absorbing all that protein efficiently is up for debate. But that's not a debate I see as productive for myself.
Did you know that vegetables are mostly made up of carbohydrates? No use sticking our head in the sand. This is a fact.
Veggies are great for micro-nutrients, but you have to be a lot more careful when it comes to determining macro-nutrients.
[Learn about the vegetarian pyramid and how to eat a balanced vegetarian diet]
There are also a few other supplements which you do have to be careful about as a vegetarian that are only known to be possible only from other animals.
But seriously, if someone died because of deficiency of one thing or another, chances are they were neglecting their diet regardless of if it was vegetarian or not.
My mantra is: always, eat a well balanced, whole foods diet.
Tip # 3: Enroll your friends and family for support
I used to work in an office outside of home when I embarked on becoming a vegetarian. One thing I found out is that people don't really "get" the vegetarian or vegan lifestyle.
Some really uninformed ones even go as far as to think it's a cult.
If we're going to talk cults and food, doesn't eating a dead animal dripping of blood sound like it should come before eating vegetables?
Here's how I coach my clients who are working on becoming vegetarian or vegan: Accept that your family members or friends don't have to embrace or even understand your new lifestyle.
But ask at least one of thing of them: that they not go out of their way to put you down about a lifestyle they understand or know very little about. It's the least they can do for you.
But this goes both ways.
I have seen vegetarians and vegans get on their high horse and get quite preachy about their lifestyle.
I think people are more likely to listen to what we have to say if we try to inspire them through being the example that they can see and follow.
* I made up the term carboterian - but I think it's fitting! :)
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