Tuesday, December 9, 2014

6 Ways to Overcome Social Pressure Regarding Your Vegetarian Diet

The hardest thing about making the jump to vegetarianism was the social pressure surrounding my decision. I can't say that this was unexpected, but it certainly has had its challenges.

Anytime someone makes a drastic lifestyle change, they are bound to have skeptics. If you ever plan to go the veggie route, be prepared to answer a million questions! How do you get your protein? You can't get ENOUGH protein in your diet without meat though, right? Do you have to take supplements? Do you get enough iron? Does that put you at risk for anemia? And the list goes on and on!
The most frustrating part for me in the beginning (which I have now learned to just let it go), was that so many people assumed that they knew what they were talking about as they tried to argue my decision to give up on meat, but they were uneducated on the plant based diet and unwilling to do their research. I wasn't trying to convert them to vegetarianism, so why did they care so much about my personal choice to quit eating animals? We are all creatures of habit, and most of us have been trained from a young age to eat meat on a daily basis; because after all, as we have been taught, meat is where we get our protein (protein will be a blog topic of its own one of these days as I feel the need to set things straight and put plants back on the pedestal where they belong). I understand these questions and concerns as I myself use to be very skeptical of the vegetarian diet; simply because I didn't really know anything about it.

If you are a vegetarian, or think you might want to be someday, here are 6 Ways to Overcome Social Pressure and stay strong and confident in your diet:

1) Educate yourself. Learn the ins and outs of the diet and understand where your nutrients are coming from. Know how to put together balanced meals for yourself. If you don't even know how the plant-based diet is beneficial, how do you expect others to?

2) Be prepared. If you plan to go out to eat with friends, check the menu in advance to make sure they have vegetarian options available. If you are going to someone's house for dinner, offer to bring a vegetarian dish along to share. Don't expect others to cater to your unique dietary needs. Plus, if you bring a delicious meat-free dish to pass, others may be inspired and realize that a vegetarian diet doesn't have to be bland and boring like it may seem!

3) Be Polite. If you don't want others to judge you, don't judge them! If they ask questions about or show interest in the vegetarian lifestyle, then by all means, engage them in a good conversation and share why you are passionate about it. If not, let them enjoy their steak in peace!

4) Get connected. Plug in to an online or a local group of like minded people. If you don't have a network of friends and family who are vegetarians, it can be helpful to have a place where you can go to share ideas, recipes, and feel free of judgement. This network also functions as an accountability tool and when the going gets tough and you are feeling the temptations and social pressure, it will help you remember why you chose to become an herbivore in the first place.

5) Make it tasty. Try new foods, recipes and restaurants and discover delicious new ways to prepare your meals. If giving up meat is challenging for you, having alternatives that taste just as good or even better will make choosing the meat less tempting.

6) Be consistent. Decide which kind of lifestyle you want, be solid in your reasoning, and be consistent with it. This will give you more credibility with your peers. Do you want to be a carnivore, vegetarian, vegan, flexitarian? People are less likely to continue questioning your selection if you consistently follow one diet rather than jumping back and forth between them.

Be confident. Be happy. BE HEALTHY.


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