Posted: Mon Jul 17, 2006 11:32 am Post subject: New vegetarian
Hello! I'm new!
After eliminating beef, chicken, and fish over the last decade, I was down to eating shrimp about once a month. I decided this year to become a vegetarian. I don't have a problem with not eating meat. The problem I'm having is the hidden things eating out (chicken stock in tomato soup, possible anchovies in the worcestershire sauce in the caesar salad made with no anchovies, or lard at a Mexican restaurant, for example) or just learning about gelatin in Starburst candies.
So I'm struggling - sometimes it seems like I'm following rules that I'm making up on the spot. "No I won't eat the polenta because it was sitting on top of the salami on your antipasti plate."
My experience in becoming a vegetarian has felt like I'm getting more bogged down in "rules" than in enjoying all the variety unfolding in front of me.
How can I start this new process of being vegetarian without feeling "bad" for not being 100% pure on every level from the moment of "conversion?" Can I never eat soup again in a restaurant without a detailed recipe from the chef? (I'm exaggerating on purpose!)
Joined: 02 Aug 2005 Posts: 75 Location: San Francisco
Posted: Tue Jul 18, 2006 9:05 am Post subject: Re: New Vegetarian
Sorry to hear you're struggling. Yes, hopefully you will enjoy all the vegetarian foods that are available to you and mostly just appreciate all the delicious food.
Everyone comes to vegetarianism and veganism in their own way, and we all have different "rules" about what we will or won't do and how firm we are about it.
I became vegetarian and then vegan very gradually. Now, not exaggerating! I will ask chefs in restaurants about exactly what ingredients are in everything and I do check for every single ingredient in all products, food and other. And I don't like eating things that touched animal foods. But I know other vegans and vegetarians who don't feel as strongly about this. We all have to decide for ourselves what we enjoy and what makes us comfortable and live accordingly.
Groups such as the Vegetarian Resource Group (vrg.org) and maybe PCRM (pcrm.org) publish booklets that list ingredients that are animal based. It was surprising to me how many hidden ingredients there are. If you decide hidden ingredients are important to you, there are lists out there. If you don't want to worry about those hidden ingredients, at least for now when you're already making changes, then enjoy concentrating on choosing veg foods when shopping and eating out.
Either way, I hope you enjoy your new diet and there are plenty of people at Bay Area Vegetarians and other veg*n groups who will be happy to support you in your efforts.
I wish you well in your new life style!
When I first became vegetarian, I was not concerned about whether or not my food might have touched meat on a platter. I'd been eating meat all my life, so why would it matter? But the longer I was veg, I found that I became very concerned about it, and now won't eat any food that I know has touched meat. (Yuck - it might have blood on it!)
Later, when I went vegan, I became very strict about asking for every ingredient contained in every food I didn't cook myself. But since then, I've gone to a new system of making "educated" assumptions. Examples: I know that most sour dough bread is vegan, so when I order a sandwich, I order it on sourdough. Certain salad dressings, thin and clear, are unlikely to contain dairy or egg whites, so I order them (safest, of course, is oil and vinegar).
I'm not saying that my way is right or wrong for you. You need to decide what is comfortable for you, then do that. As Lisa mentioned, concentrate on the good parts of what you are doing - eating vegetable based foods instead of animal based foods. That is a great commitment to make. Every vegetarian meal you eat is better for you, the environment, and especially the animals that didn't have to die to create it.
Posted: Tue Aug 15, 2006 2:03 pm Post subject: Hey there!
Like the other two ladies here, I'd just advise you to be gentle with yourself. Don't fret over the rules. The only one who is monitoring is YOU! If it's causing you stress, then let it go. It will all come naturally - and sooner than you can imagine.
Just wanted to let you know that I have been mulling over your thoughts and suggestions these past several months and it has been much easier! I've been asking if food is vegetarian and been surprised at times by the answers! (Steamed veggies at fast food restaurant - not vegetarian! What even made me ask? LOL!)
I also avoid certain items eating out if I can't read the label - soup, especially. I'm also more confident about asking! While strolling down the taco buffet line at a conference - past the chicken, steak, and refried beans - I noticed that the person across from me only had tortillas on his plate - just like me. We had arrived at the Spanish Rice and were looking at our bare plates! I went over to the catering staff and asked what was vegetarian and was able to share that information! Lunch was only spanish rice, guacamole, and tortillas, but was filling!
I'm beating up on myself less as I learn more! So thanks again!
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