Justin Timberlake defends the vegan lifestyle in SNL’s “Bring It On Down to Veganville” sketch, March 9, 2013
A few months ago I decided to become a vegetarian. It was a long time coming actually – much of my extended family is vegetarian, though my immediate family has always eaten meat. Chicken has been disgusting to me recently; I think maybe I’ve just hit my lifetime chicken quota. I have also been reading a lot about factory farming and how horrible the production of meat and meat related products are for not only animals but also for our environment. The tipping point for me was the movie Vegucated. If you have not seen it, you simply must. Basically it is a Supersize Me type challenge in reverse – instead of an all McDonald’s diet 3 meat-eaters are challenged to become vegans for 6 weeks. The results are eye-opening, moving, and even sometimes funny.
I have not taken a bite of meat since the day I watched Vegucated and I am thrilled with my decision. I have more energy, I feel better and the nausea I was constantly plagued with before has all but disappeared. I am not one to push my new veggie lifestyle upon people (it’s a personal choice and yes I am happy with it, but I don’t care if I change the minds of steak lovers everywhere) but as a new vegetarian I do find myself constantly defending my choices. Here is a list of the top 3 most annoying questions I have been receiving:
1. So you’re like, a hipster now?
Just because someone makes the choice to be a vegetarian does not mean they need to be slapped with some stereotypical cultural label. Calling someone a hipster evokes images of artsy tree-huggers with excessive front bangs, who spend their days instagramming all their meals not that there’s anything wrong with that. People can choose to be vegetarian for any number of reasons including health, spiritual or religious. I am not choosing to eat vegetarian because I want to be trendy, I am choosing it because it is healthy for me, and it upholds the ethics that I believe in. I learned in university that you should vote with your dollars; in other words instead of feeling like one person who is helpless to make change in this vast society, look at it as though you can effect change by what you choose to buy and where you choose to buy it.
2. What are you going to eat, salad?
There is much more to being vegetarian than just salad. Many people think that you won’t be getting enough protein if you are not eating meat, but there is a huge variety of ingredients that provide just as much, if not more protein than animal products. Beans, lentils and tofu for example provide a great alternative (I recently made tacos with refried beans instead of ground beef) and even certain grains can be replaced to be higher in protein, for example using quinoa in place of pasta or rice can provide more protein. So no, I will not just be eating salad my dear friend, don’t worry about me!
3. How long are you going to be vegetarian for?
Being a vegetarian is not a fad diet. It is not some juice cleanse that you start and stop when it is convenient for you. I am not just “doing it” for a short period to detox or something, as has become oh-so-fashionable. It is a lifestyle choice, one that I would love to stop having to defend to everyone I dine with.