“Why don’t you just eat a salad?” “You going to eat rabbit food?” “When you going to eat real food again?” “You don’t miss meat?” “So you just eat soy and lots of beans?” These are just some of the questions I’ve heard whenever I mention or someone finds out I’m a vegetarian. Sometimes I entertain it and sometimes I do not. I stopped eating meat during my senior year of high school therefore I’ve been a vegetarian for about seven years. I didn’t see any video propaganda of animals being abused that changed my mind about eating meat. Since a child I’ve always been a picky eater. For example, I consciously stopped eating fish when I was about six years old. I often tell people that prior to becoming a vegetarian I was only eating chicken and one day I just got tired of chicken. It wasn’t hard for me to stop eating meat when I was only eating one type of meat.
There is this misconception that vegetarians only eat salads and veggie burgers. Lucky for me a salad and veggie burgers aren’t my only options in food. I can eat pizza, pasta, cheese empanadas, sushi, tacos, quesadillas, veggie patties, and spring rolls, pad thai, mozzarella sticks and bunch more other things. Some of my favorite things to eat are Trader Joe’s Chicken-less Mandarin Orange Morsels, Quorn’s Garlic and Herb Chicken Fillets, Morningstar Farms Spicy Black bean Burger, and Morningstar Farms Buffalo Wings. Usually when I’m going out to dinner with friends I have to look at the menu before hand on my phone to make sure I have at least two options in a meal. As someone that doesn’t eat fish it grinds my gears when the only non-meat dish is a fish dish. I know its probably annoying to my friends that we can’t just stroll into somewhere and get brunch, lunch, or dinner without worrying about what I’d eat.
Usually when I go out to eat I usually get something with shrimp. That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy eggplant Parmesan, or my favorite calamari salad from Cafeteria. Since I have started eating lobster within the past year I’ll get that if I’m feeling fancy only if I can’t see the whole lobster. As someone that is both a vegetarian and a picky eater I avoid eating at people’s home. Aside from feeling like an inconvenience I don’t just want to eat sides all night. Yes I love sweet potatoes, baked mac and cheese, and string beans just as much as the next person but that doesn’t mean I want a whole plate of it. On the other hand I am grateful for being a vegetarian because I’m slowly but surely expanding my palate. I would have never given Lobster a second chance, I would have never tried Brussels sprout and I would have never tried burrata.
I get full pretty fast, so the amount of food I eat is not an issue. Plus the food I eat has some type of protein in it. Also I tend to always take home a doggie bag. I must be honest and share that since becoming a vegetarian I am low in iron. This means my body doesn’t have enough iron, which can affect the number of red blood cells, my body has. Since I don’t eat meat or fish, my body doesn’t have the opportunity to get haem iron instead I have to rely on non-haem iron. Non-haem iron can be found in certain cereals, vegetables, and nuts. As a result of my iron deficiency I’m anemic. I get fatigued very quickly and always feel like I need to take a nap. Personally, I don’t think having low iron levels is the worst thing in the world. However, during my last doctor visit my doctor played out a scenario where I could faint from my body not being able to produce enough red blood cells that need to move through out my body.
In the same amount of time I’ve been a vegetarian is also the same amount of time I’ve been prescribed iron pills. I’ll also be honest again and share that I do not take these iron pills at all. In fact I can’t remember the last time I took one. I cannot stand the taste of those small green or red pills. Aside from not being able to give up eggs, yogurt, cheese, and milk, my iron deficiency is a big reason why I cannot be a vegan. I know I’d only be taking away something else that my body probably really needs. I want to make more of an effort to eat more iron rich foods, not only for myself but also for my friends and mother’s nagging to come to a stop.