12 Scenarios You’ll Know After Going Permanently Plant-Based
Attempt to find a single person who genuinely regrets going vegetarian and you’re in for a long and fruitless search. After all, anyone who willingly gives up meat only to regret doing so has the option of switching back at any time.
Hence, pretty much every committed vegetarian you’ll encounter in your lifetime will be overwhelmingly happy with their lifestyle. They’ll also have absolutely no intention of ever going back to their old ways, irrespective of the occasional temptation.
And let’s face it - to pretend temptation doesn’t occasionally creep into the mix is pointless…it’s all part and parcel of the experience.
In any case, plant-based lifestyles are becoming exponentially more popular in the Western world than they have ever been. All vegetarians have their own unique motivations for giving up meat, but the benefits of doing so are more or less universal.
A Growing Global Plant-Based Population
To put things into some kind of perspective, it is currently estimated that around 3.6 million people in England alone consider themselves to be vegetarian. That’s a full 6% of the entire population of the country. Over in the United States, 3.2% of people identify themselves as vegetarian - somewhere in the region of 7.3 million people.
But this is still a drop in the ocean when you consider countries like India, where nearly 40% of people are strictly vegetarian. This accounts to just under 400 million people, which goes some way to explain why India’s take on vegetarian cuisine is just about the most delicious on earth.
Be it for religious reasons, environmental motivations or simply to do your health the world of good, going vegetarian is something most health experts and nutritionists recommend. Even if going 100% plant-based isn’t something you could realistically stretch to, a vegetarian diet that excludes meat can be beneficial in a variety of ways.
It can also be quite the eye-opening lifestyle change - particularly when it comes to your interactions with other people. As with many things, it’s not until you adopt a meat-free lifestyle that you appreciate just how satisfying it can be.
You also suddenly find yourself being able to relate to a fair few things only vegetarians will understand, including the following regular scenarios:
1. Everyone suddenly becomes a nutritionist
Out of the blue, plenty of people you know have no professional qualifications whatsoever suddenly start acting like qualified nutritionists. They’ll tell you how difficult it is as a vegetarian to get enough iron in your diet, they’ll warn you’re probably not getting enough protein and they’ll take pleasure in pulling all manner of weird and wonderful vitamin-based facts out of thin air. All of which you’ll quickly learn to shrug off with a diplomatic smile and nod of the head.
2. Everyone also starts justifying their own eating habits
This tends to be relatively short lived, but most of your friends, family members and colleagues who eat meat spend some time attempting to justify their lifestyle choices. Chances are, you probably couldn’t care less what they eat, how much of it they eat or why. But for some reason, they’ll feel the need to explain themselves ‘til the proverbial cows come home’…no pun intended.
3. People feel the need to ask very intimate questions
Once the conversation is flowing after a couple of well-deserved libations, don’t be surprised if you start being questioned about things you’d rather not discuss. The associations of vegetarian diets with gas, maybe even how a high-fibre plant-based diet affects your bowel movements. All questions of semi-admirable curiosity, but slightly on the intimate and uncomfortable side, nonetheless.
4. You’re often expected to explain yourself
Rather than simply appreciating and admiring the fact that you’ve made such a positive lifestyle change, you’ll encounter plenty of people who want a more detailed explanation. And if you choose to provide one, they’ll often take pleasure in bringing up as many points as possible as to why you’re wrong. It happens, it’s annoying and it’s ignorant, but it’s something you quickly get used to.
5. Your entire outlook on shopping changes
Giving up meat sounds easy on the surface, until you realise just how many of your favourite foods and products contain traces of meat in some form or another. Even if you’re still perfectly happy to eat dairy products, your entire outlook on shopping changes radically as a vegetarian. That said, there’s never been a better or easier time to go plant-based, as the range of top-notch products up for grabs right now is simply outstanding - it’s not all about nuts and tofu!
6. Some people take pleasure in catching you slipping up
Or worse still, they go out of their way to trick you into eating something that contains meat. Why this is the case is a mystery, but some people take genuine pleasure in catching vegetarians and vegans who make the occasional mistake. Though as soon as they see you really couldn’t care less about the odd slipup, the smug smile is well and truly wiped off their face!
7. Some people even act offended
This scenario has a tendency to pop up when dining out, attending a celebration or dining at someone else’s home. On occasion, people learning you’re vegetarian for the first time in these instances will actually act put off or even offended by your eating habits. Almost like you’re deliberately being awkward and making things inconvenient for everyone else. Frankly, this is a hugely ignorant and offensive attitude to adopt, which says more about the offending individual than you as a conscientious vegetarian.
8. People believe part-time vegetarianism is a thing
Firstly, you have those who occasionally go a day or two without meat and genuinely categorise themselves as vegetarians. Then, you have those who see vegetarianism as a temporary fad, which nobody really sticks with long-term. Both of which you can expect to encounter on a regular basis, which is why you’ll routinely encounter questions like “Oh wow, really? You’re still vegetarian?” Almost as if it’s something you do for six months before diving into the nearest bacon sandwich.
9. Not eating fish leaves people flabbergasted
“Yeah but they’re fish, not animals.” Cue the inevitable cringe, but one which for the sake of social graces you’ll have to stifle later. There is, of course, absolutely nothing wrong with being a pescatarian. If you want to eat fish, go right ahead - it can be insanely good for you. But what’s amusing if nothing else is how some people simply cannot fathom why those who consider themselves to be all-out vegetarians don’t eat fish and seafood. So don’t be surprised if this debate pops up on a regular basis.
10. Some vegetarians can be annoyingly preachy
Discussing your lifestyle choices is fine, as is explaining your motivation for going vegetarian. By contrast, being judgmental, pretentious and downright arrogant is unacceptable - irrespective of how strong your views may be. The overwhelming majority of vegetarians and vegans never for one moment feel the need to get preachy and patronising with others. But you’ll occasionally encounter the odd exception, who if anything actually makes you feel slightly embarrassed for being in the same bracket as them.
11. People are astonished if you still serve meat
It’s not uncommon (quite the opposite, in fact) for a household to contain a mix of vegetarians and meat eaters. Which, in the vast majority of instances, means a mix of meat and plant-based dishes to suit the preferences of all involved. While some vegetarians shudder at the thought of even touching a piece of meat, others are quite happy to prepare and serve meat-based dishes. If you fall into the latter category, you can expect a certain amount of shock and awe when people see you handling lumps of dead animals.
12. It all quickly becomes quite entertaining
Last but not least, all of the above could make the prospect of going vegetarian sound somewhat daunting. In reality, it’s almost guaranteed to turn out to be the best decision you’ll ever make. All the initial niggles, annoyances and needlessly awkward situations quickly become surprisingly entertaining. Rather than the naivety of others getting on your nerves, you’re more likely to find their inane questions quite hilarious.
The Feel-Good Factor…
Irrespective of any of the above, the feel-good factor of going plant-based is something only vegetarians and vegans can truly understand. Even if you cannot quite put your finger on it, there’s something about the plant-based lifestyle that has you feeling so much better on a day to day basis.
More energy, fewer bad moods and the knowledge you’re contributing to the solution, rather than the problem. All of which more than justifies any early challenges you might face along the way, which are really a small price to pay for what you get back in return!