Being a vegetarian for almost my entire life, I always received questions from friends who are curious about my choice of diet. Many were purely curious, which I am always happy to clarify their doubts, unfortunately, there were also some malicious ones. Whatever it is, the decision to be a vegetarian is a personal choice! Nothing to do with hating vegetables, love eating trees, or taking a vow of celibacy! (roll eyes) I always wanted to write about the 10 Misconceptions About Vegetarians for the longest time but have not found the time to do it until now. I gotta make a disclaimer first that this article is not written to change your diet preference or to prove anything or anyone wrong. This article is done to allow me (not representing anyone or any organisation) to clear your misconceptions about vegetarians. For vegetarians out there, you definitely will find some of these familiar! haha So here you go.
Top 10 Misconceptions About Vegetarians
#1 Being A Vegetarian, Do You Have Enough Strength?
“Wow, so you are a VEGETARIAN? I really can’t tell!” – Annonymous. Seriously? Is there a certain look for being a vegetarian? LOL Many people associate the vegetarian diet for being physically weak or skinny. Many believed that eating meat will give you a lot of strength. Let me give you an example to prove my point, first, look at the magnificent, gigantic and intelligent Elephant, which is arguably one of the most amazing creatures on Earth. If you want to talk about muscles, let’s see the Rhino, Hippo, Buffalo and look at their hunky diet! For runners, we have the horses who are great in speed, strength and endurance. These animals prove that they are great in strength and not physically weak or skinny. Most importantly, they are herbivores! 🙂
Enough about animals, let’s see the great athletes who are vegetarians. According to internet sources, these are some of the famous Olympians or athletes who are vegetarians or vegans: For example, Mike Tyson (Boxer), Venus Wiliams (4 Gold Medals Olympic Tennis Player), Carl Lewis (9 Gold Medals in Olympic Track & Field) and many more…
Sometimes I wish I don’t need to keep a diet and eat whatever I want. I love potatoes a lot, hence that explains my struggle with my high carbohydrate food intake. Moreover, due to the food choices available for vegetarians, overeating can also be a problem for us too! To be honest, I have my unhealthy times, and we cannot take health for granted. Vegetarian or non-vegetarian, it is our own responsibility to eat healthily and happily! 🙂
#2 Do You Have Enough Protein?
Being a vegetarian, I can get my animal proteins from Eggs, Milk, Cheese etc… Due to health reason, I prefer to consume proteins from the plant-based food source like the vegans, for my post workout needs. Somehow, eating more eggs, or milk will give me an acne outbreak (I don’t naturally have acne problems), hence I am seeking brown rice protein for my post workout drink now.
Just in case if you think it’s unhealthy to be a vegetarian. Well, think about the causes of the diseases nowadays, heart diseases, parasites hiding in the intestines, MCD, Trichinosis, Ciguatera Fish Poisoning etc… According to American Heart Association, Vegan and Vegetarian diets are actually the most effective for optimal health. Many people who were suffering from heart disease manage to control their illness or reverse their symptoms completely after coming on board the vegetarian diet. Source: American Heart Association
#3 Vegetarian Eat Eggs?
You may be wondering whether vegetarians can eat eggs? To clear your doubts, it depends on what type of vegetarian does the person practice. Most vegetarians eat eggs, milk, cheese, butter, etc as long as it doesn’t involve killing the animal for the food product. More importantly, vegetarians do not eat any animal flesh, including white meat (fish, seafood etc) or red meat (chicken, beef etc). On the other hand, the vegans have a stricter diet as they do not eat anything that is derived from an animal. For example, milk, cheese, eggs, butter and etc. Vegans are considered a higher level of diet than vegetarians. 🙂
Among the vegetarians, there are also other subcategories or different types. When you fly on big major airlines, you might encounter a list of special diets indicating all the different types of vegetarian! haha It can be quite confusing but I can help to explain some of it below. 🙂
Different Types of Vegetarians (No meat for all)
- Lacto-Ovo Vegetarians: Eat both dairy products and eggs; this is the most common type of vegetarian diet.
- Lacto Vegetarians: Eat dairy products but not eggs.
- Ovo Vegetarian: Eat eggs but not dairy products.
- Vegans: Do not eat dairy products, eggs, or any other products which are derived from animals.
- Raw Vegan: Eat raw or unprocessed food that is not heated above 46 degrees celsius
- Jain Vegetarian: Do not eat anything that grows underground e.g. Potatoes, Onions, Eggplants, Garlic etc. (common in Jainism Indian Subcontinent or the Japanese Shojin-Ryori Buddhist)
As for me? I am a Lacto-Ovo Vegetarians who exclude the 5 Pungent Plants! *Read #9 to find out more below about the 5 pungent plant. 🙂
#4 You Guys Eat Grass & Trees, Not Environmental Friendly!
Until now, I’m uncertain whether this is a misconception or a joke! Firstly, let me address the grass and trees part. I am unsure about the other people, but I certainly DO NOT eat grass or trees even though I think it’s perfectly fine to eat them if you find it appetizing! (Health Note: The human stomach will have difficulty to digest the typical raw grass/leaves from the tree we see in the forest, but there are also some other types which are edible for humans) However, it is definitely a much better choice compare to eating cockroaches, lizards, frogs or whatsoever if you are starving (if it comes).
Just because you are a non-vegetarian, doesn’t mean you eat EVERYTHING that moves on earth right? Some people said to me the forest is our buffet! Hence my reply to them would be, the zoo/safari/sea is your buffet then! 🙂
As for environmental friendliness, yes we may be eating more greens, but in fact, we are the ones going green! Vegetarianism reduces the impact of climate change, deforestation, and pollution. This is because much more resources are needed to produce the meat on your plate than vegetables. Reductions in meat consumption in our daily lives would substantially reduce the burden on natural resources. Think about all these resources used in producing meat, we could save the starvation in Africa instead! 🙁
#5 You Are Missing Out A Lot My Friend, Vegetarian Food Is So Boring!
Honestly, this may surprise you! Many vegetarians find the smell of meat (even when they are cooked, grilled, barbecued, fried, steam, well prepared) repulsive, pungent, unpleasant, unappetizing and to some extent, disgusting! It’s true! If you want to know how bad it smells like, try being a vegetarian for more than 6 months, you will know! 🙂 So, what I am trying to say here is “neah, we totally don’t miss out anything at all!”.
Be it Western Cuisine, Chinese Cuisine, Japanese Cuisine, Korean Cuisine, Turkish Cuisine, Mediterranean Cuisine, African Cuisine, Latin American Cuisine, or American Fast Food, I have eaten them all! Yes, the vegetarian version! Haha
Want to find out more? I just started writing about vegetarian food at Vegetarian Inspiration 360, and sometimes I write about food and cuisines that I have tried in my travel trips too in Travel Inspiration 360, so check it out! 🙂
#6 Oh Gosh, Vegetarian Food Is Very Expensive!
Only say this after you tried my food recommendations at Vegetarian Inspiration 360 articles. If you go to a restaurant, obviously it is going to cost you more! Just like with non-vegetarian options, there are cheap and also expensive options as well, especially in Singapore. The cheap and nice vegetarian food can be found in hawker centres and food court if you are on a budget. There are so many, in fact too many delicious, mouth watering food places around the world. Waiting for you to explore. 🙂
#7 Being A Vegetarian Is Not Cool At All!
First, take a look all these cool people! 🙂
Albert Einstein (The smartest person in the world!)
Andy Lau (The heavenly king in Asian entertainment industry)
Liam Hemsworth (Hunky actor from the Hunger Games)
Ellen DeGeneres (One of the most influential celebrities in the US)
Ariana Grande (American Singer)
Brad Pitt (Who doesn’t know this guy?)
Surprise!!! They are vegetarians too! 🙂 Google vegetarian celebrities, you will be surprise there are MORE! 🙂
Honestly, being cool is about your personality and is not related to a diet! Being cool is coming from internal (personality) and being hot is from external (physical), so vegetarians can be cool & hot too! LOL
#8 You Eat Fake Meat Because You Miss Them?
As an individual, I don’t like mock meat that has a “meaty” taste. As mentioned, meat smell is pungent and unpleasant to us! My personal favourites are, e.g. potatoes (number 1 favourite), Curry, Thai Tom Yam, Laksa (made from laksa paste, beancurd, noodles, chillies, ginger, coconut milk etc), Fried Kangkong with Sambal Chili (Water Spinach), Aglio Olio Pasta, which all these can be prepared with pure vegetarian ingredients. On the other hand, I do love some vegetarian patties, just that when I am eating them, I enjoy them as a food that made from vegetarian ingredients! I don’t crave or imagine it as eating a real meat, even though they might be named after a meat product! It is the vegetarian food manufacturers who labelled their mock meat products to what they think would be easy to understand by the consumers, or easy for those who are converting to vegetarianism. If you really ask any vegetarians, we do not desire or crave for these meat substitutes when we consumed them, in fact, I wouldn’t be bothered if the manufacturers change their naming labels.
Moreover, there are more and more upscale vegetarian restaurant and fast food restaurant removing the “meat’s” name in their food menu. Instead, they are replacing the menu with creative and appealing names. 🙂 For example, some fast food restaurants in Singapore name their burgers as “Creamy Shrooms, Hawaiian Teriyaki, Potato Croquette, Meatless Mexican”, instead of Vegetarian Beef Burger or Vegetarian Chicken Burger! In addition, most Western Cuisine usually list down the full ingredients of their food product in the menu so that you know what you are eating! Obviously, we never miss or desire for meat! 🙂
#9 Onion, Garlic, Leek, Chives & Shallot Are Also Vegetables Too, Why Can’t You Eat Them?
Similar to Jain vegetarian but not entirely because I do eat potatoes and eggplants, I am a typical lacto-ovo vegetarian who excludes the 5 pungent plants in my diet. There are two ways of explaining this, (1) according to various Asian spiritual explanations, these 5 “aromatics” plants are often the cause of bad breath and repulsive body odour from our perspiration. We believed they have adverse effects on our lungs, heart, spleen, liver and kidneys respectively when consumed. To some, they believed it creates a desire and triggers aggressiveness, which is disruptive to spiritual growth or cultivation. The consumption of these pungent plants is also known by many yoga groups to negatively interfere with the practice of meditation.
(2) In terms of modern scientific explanation, no doubt these pungent plants have their individual health benefits, but there are also studies to show they could cause brain poisoning effects, skin irritation etc. Many vegetarians believed these pungent plants are harmful to our body especially when we do not consume meat. But all in all, leaving out the 5 pungent plants in my diet is still a personal preference. 🙂
#10 It Must Be Hard For You As A Traveller!
To be honest, there are some places like Russia where the concept of vegetarian is lesser known and they do not have many vegetarian restaurants or vegetarian-friendly dishes on their menu, but I still can get by as they prepared some simple dishes using potato or vegetables, home-made pasta with olive oil, grilled mushrooms, or pizza for me. Often, the tough part wasn’t really about finding vegetarian food, but whether I can find something to my likings! I am kinda picky actually! haha Usually in big cities, there are many vegetarian options, restaurants, eateries or even in a non-vegetarian place, there are bound to have a vegetarian menu or at least allow me to make a special request. So, I would say it’s never hard to be a vegetarian traveller, but I will definitely miss the home cooked food when I travel! haha That’s hard for many people including non-vegetarians I guess! 🙂
Being a vegetarian is definitely a personal diet choice! There shouldn’t be a judgment call made due to diet preferences. For non-vegetarians, this is not to prove you wrong, or rather to help you understand vegetarianism better. For those who are trying to be a vegetarian, I hope this would help to strengthen your determination in converting your diet, because it is NEVER an easy journey, understanding why you want to be a vegetarian and sticking to your ground, affirming your faith and values are the keys to success! For fellow vegetarians out there, I hope you like this “10 Misconceptions About Vegetarians”. I’m sure you have different experiences, so do share with us in the comments below. Tell us more what other ridiculous misconceptions you have encountered! But remember to always stay cool (inner self) because we are really cool! haha 🙂
“I personally chose to go vegan because I educated myself on factory farming and cruelty to animals, and I suddenly realized that what was on my plate were living things, with feelings. And I just couldn’t disconnect myself from it any longer.” – Ellen DeGeneres