When you think of a vegetarian, what comes to mind? If you are like most, you’ve probably got some stereotypes about vegetarians and vegetarian food ingrained into your mind. Sure, some vegetarians really might be patchouli-wearing hippies who eat nothing but salad all day. But, with polls showing that 5% of US adults call themselves vegetarian or vegan and even more people are eating a “flexitarian” diet, it is safe to say that a lot of those stereotypes about vegetarians are flat out wrong.
1. Vegetarians are Scrawny and Weak
In our culture, meat is associated with muscle and brawn. So, a lot of people incorrectly assume that vegetarians are going to be really scrawny and weak. News flash people! There are LOTS of other ways to get protein in your diet other than meat. Tofu is the most obvious veg source of protein, but you’ve also got seitan, tempeh, mock meats, beans, quinoa, lentils, nuts, etc. If you think that vegetarians are weak, just take a look at all the vegetarian athletes out there, such as baseball player Prince Fielder.
2. Vegetarians Just Eat Salad All Day
There is a lot more you can do with vegetables than just put them in a salad. If you don’t believe me, just flip through a vegetarian cookbook. Your mouth will be watering with thoughts of dishes like these phyllo pockets, lentil and wild mushroom flat bread and walnut-stuffed eggplant.
Even if you don’t like to cook, there are still plenty of vegetarian food options. Increasingly more restaurants and fast food places are offering vegetarian meals and supermarkets have a wide range of quick veggie options, like mock meats and instant dinners.
3. The Vegetarian Diet is Boring
When omnivores think of going veg, they usually think of their exact same diet but without the meat. When looked at this way, the veg diet probably does seem really boring. But vegetarians don’t just cut meat out of their diet! They replace that meat with other foods. A lot of vegetarians ultimately become “foodies” because they get excited about trying all sorts of new foods. So, whereas the typical meat-eating American falls back on the same foods for their daily meals, many vegetarians are constantly trying new, exciting foods that they may never have tried if they hadn’t gone veg. There is nothing boring about that!
4. Vegetarians Suffer from Nutrient Deficiencies
Yes, vegetarians do have to pay closer attention to some nutrients than omnivores. For example, it can be tricky to get enough iron on the vegetarian diet if you aren’t eating enough greens and calcium can be tricky for vegans. But, with so many vegetarian supplements and fortified foods available, you don’t have to eat 6 cups of greens per day just to get your nutrients. The vegetarian diet is associated with numerous health benefits, like reduced risk of heart disease, lower diabetes, and lower body weight. These benefits surely outweigh the small (and easily preventable) risk of nutrient deficiency.
5. Being Vegetarian is Hard
It is not hard to be a vegetarian – it is just very easy to eat meat. Once you look beyond all of the meat dishes at restaurants and the meat counter at the supermarket, you’ll see that there are actually tons of vegetarian options available. True, going veg can be a bit difficult at first because you’ve got to change your habits (like picking up lunch from that new Indian place instead of your usual deli). But, once you’ve settled into your new routine, you’ll realize that being veg is actually very easy.
6. Vegetarians Are All Hippies
There are a lot of different reasons to follow a vegetarian diet. Religion, health, animal-rights, and the environment are just a few. Because of all of the reasons for choosing to eat veg, the diet has attracted a wide range of people – and not just the “hippies” and other “weirdos” that were associated with vegetarianism back in the 60s and 70s. About 5% of US adults consider themselves vegetarian or vegan. So, no matter what your lifestyle is, you are sure to find likeminded vegetarians.
7. Vegetarians Are Self-Righteous and Will Try to Get You to Stop Eating Meat
There is a joke that goes, “How do you spot a vegetarian? Don’t worry. He’ll tell you.” This is just one of the many jokes about vegetarians and their supposed self-righteousness. In actuality, most vegetarians are far from self-righteous and could care less about trying to convert you over to their diets. Sure, a lot of vegetarians will tell you that they are veg. But this is more of a practicality so they don’t find themselves in awkward situations like getting served steak at a dinner party.