I am vegetarian. Or as I usually tell people, “Oh, I don’t eat meat, chicken, or seafood”.
Generally, this garners several different reactions. The two most popular ones tend to be “what do you eat?” and “well, I like meat”.
Before I address the actual subject of this post (“what do you eat”), I would like to talk about the latter.
“I like meat”. The words in the response itself, I have no issue with. You like meat. That’s cool. I have absolutely nothing – and really, absolutely nothing – against meat eaters. What I have an issue with is how it’s said and the implication behind it, as well as usually what follows. Without fail, that statement is said on the defensive. It’s not said in a “you don’t eat meat? That’s cool – I personally like meat” way, but rather a “I’m offended that you don’t eat meat” and a “you’re going to try and condemn me for eating meat” sort of way. It makes me feel bad, not for not eating meat, but that you’re getting offended by a personal choice of mine that only affects what you may be able to serve to me if we hang out and assuming I’m going to nag you for eating meat (I won’t). I usually respond back to these people with “well, I don’t” and then they follow up with “you should eat meat” and awkwardly stumble to give me reasons why I should eat meat. Then it gets into this really strange debate that no one can really win that I didn’t even intend to have in the first place (reminder to self: next time someone gets defensive, ask them why they’re getting defensive, instead of responding that I don’t meat after that has been established).
When I tell you I don’t eat meat, chicken, or seafood (including fish), I am warning you ahead of time of my eating choices, so we don’t end up in a situation where you’re trying to serve me baby back ribs doused in barbeque sauce and I awkwardly refuse because I don’t eat meat. I’m tell you it ahead of time so that doesn’t happen, as well as asking you to please respect my eating choices.
Honestly, I don’t care that you eat meat. PLEASE, continue eating meat if you enjoy it. Unless your doctor is urging you to cut meat out from your diet, CONTINUE EATING IT. Someone has to eat it and I’m most certainly not going to. And, I know this is extremely unvegetarian of me, but someone’s gotta provide the high quality beef broth for my french onion soup (yes – I eat french onion soup, fully aware of the beef broth – I guess I’m technically more of a “flexitarian” than a vegetarian, however, I don’t eat actual pieces of meat because I don’t like them – I consider myself vegetarian because I don’t eat meat/chicken/seafood in it’s more “physical” form, if that makes sense).
ANYWAY, onto the main topic of this ramble: “What do you eat?”.
This is usually a question where I freeze because, really, what do I eat as a vegetarian? What are they expecting me to say? I personally consider myself very far from being a proper vegetarian (my meals generally lack an abundance of vegetables and fruits), but there are a number of things I do eat.
What jumps to my mind right away are grains. [Whole wheat] pasta, rice, you know, things like that. I feel like this one is pretty standard though and probably glaringly obvious to eat?
Then we have vegetarian alternative foods! I’m sure a lot of people are thinking of soy/tofu right away. While, yes, many vegetarian alternatives are made with that stuff, there’s also some made out of other types of foods! One of my favourite brands, Quorn (don’t ask me how to pronounce the name, because I honestly don’t know), makes their products out of mycroprotein a.k.a. fungi (like mushrooms)! I’m particularly a fan of their chik’n nuggets (or as I prefer to call them, the fake chicken). The myrcoprotein is shredded up to the point where it actually looks like you’re biting into an actual piece of chicken!
I actually have a couple of favourite vegetarian alternative foods.
– Morning Star Farms Sausage Links – I feel guilty eating these, they taste so good. I usually have to hold myself back from eating the whole box! They have the delicious spices of sausage, packed together in a meaty sausage look-a-like.
– Morning Star Farms Veggie Crumbles – my choice when I’m making something involving ground beef. I usually use them for making tacos or chili. Combined with the right spices (organic is definitely preferred, so I’ve found), these make for delicious meal that will make one’s taste buds sing for more.
– LightLife’s Italian Style Smart Sausage – my dad found this one for me after I told him I wanted some of that stirfry he often made; he decided to try a bit of it himself and was surprised how close the taste was to the real thing! The only thing he criticized was that it was a bit harder than real sausage.
– LightLife Pepperoni – actually, any vegetarian alternative pepperoni can go here. I used to love pepperoni when I was a kid and the only thing that stuck out to me was the spices, which are replicated perfectly in these alternatives.
– Amy’s Tofu Scramble – this isn’t that much of a vegetarian alternative as much as a vegan one (and yes, there’s a difference people). It uses tofu instead of eggs and oh my gosh, it is delicious. I’ve actually made tofu scramble from scratch myself on several occasions, but it doesn’t come out as great as this pre-packaged one from Amy’s does.
I’m sure there’s even more products, but those are a few that spring to mind.
I also eat veggie burgers, usually from Morning Star Farms. My favourite one is the Grillers.
A lot of these products are one of those things where if I actually ate meat, I would end up choosing them over their meat counterparts. The taste just packs much more of a punch for me.
Fruits and vegetables are another one, but I honestly don’t eat them as often as I should. It’s usually because when I want to use them in something or actually eat them, I get too lazy and procrastinate and they go bad. You might be able to guess what I eat. I’m personally a fan of cooked vegetables, even though cooking them takes out most of the nutrients. Also, I don’t like lettuce. Which means I don’t like salad. I do try to eat it, but the cold, firm, dirty water taste generally takes over and I have to stop.
Other things could include mushrooms, spreads (fruit, peanut butter, etc.), things like that. Basically, if it doesn’t contain meat or animal products, it’s vegetarian enough.
I get slightly irked when vegetarian food gets dismissed as rabbit food, because I wasn’t aware that rabbits were able to eat things like chili made with veggie grounds, sauce, corn, onions, mushrooms, and various different kinds of peppers or tofu crumbled and mixed with tomatoes, onions, garlic, and zucchini with a side of veggie sausage links or a pasta dish lightly covered in a thick tomato sauce mixed with veggie grounds that soaked up some of the sauce it was stirred into, complimenting its own spices, and homemade “meat” balls made out of some beef-style grounds, fresh basil, fresh parsley, garlic, onion powder, and breadcrumbs.
For even more glimpses of what vegetarians may eat, go check out the Vegetarian Times’s recipes. There’s a lot of delicious recipes on there, so I encourage you to go take a look – not to try (unless you want to), but just to see what one might make if they were vegetarian.
I hope this answers your question. Also, don’t take my word as oath – I’m simply one person and I’m sure other vegetarians eat other ways and most likely better ways. Except for my younger sister. She eats worse than I do.