Surely the "problems" described in your paragraph 2 don't occur often enough in most lives to be real impediments to eating a vegetarian diet! I, for one, am not about to worry about my being a world leader who has to eat meat to negotiate any kind of treaty. On the realistic side - I find that generally one has a voice in meal planning with business people, and I frequently recommend a special restaurant that offers vegetarian options, generally not including iceberg lettuce. I rarely eat at the homes of strangers, but when dining with friends I mention that I eat vegetarian meals and offer to bring something that will coordinate with their plans, or to bring my own food and enjoy their company. My husband will simply eat whatever is presented that is vegetarian and just leave the rest. Friends may think it odd, but we don't seem to lack for invitations! As to arriving at a restaurant and finding out there's nothing but iceberg lettuce and dinner rolls - that doesn't have to happen in todays age of the Internet. If my dinner companions insist on such a restaurant, I would eat before and just order the iceberg salad and dessert.
I've been a vegetarian for a couple of years and it isn't as convenient as being an omnivore - but I would not call it difficult. I know of people who were vegetarians for years and years and then went back to being omnivores. I suppose the most difficult thing is perhaps to STAY a vegetarian.
Staying a vegetarian would be perfectly convenient were you living in a majority-vegetarian culture (if you were perhaps a Himalayan monk?). I have been a vegetarian since I was 14--basically half of my life. I remain a vegetarian for many reasons, chief among them probably that this is my lifestyle and I've hit a stride with it. I am also a Whorebivore, and my involvement there comes in defiance of another book, Donna Maurer's "Vegetarianism: Movement or Moment," whose very title suggests what annoys me about other vegetarians. We shouldn't brand you a backslider if you can't manage to STAY a vegetarian. These are choices made at the most personal level: what I'm going to put in MY body. While a particular political ideology certainly informs my decision to remain a vegetarian, I won't, like some Irish Republican circa 1922, make traitors out of backsliders. As a culture, we need to open up the spectrum of possibilities when it comes to diet and let people make their own decisions, and then as much as possible we need to make it convenient for those people to sit down to meals together.
Hi L.J., I have felt as though I offend hosts. With the holidays fast approaching, and all the questions, and "Come on just a bite of turkey"...it gets old. I have managed to go to the Outback with some of my hb's clients and no one even noticed what I ate at all...(it was a lot of iceburg lettuce and dinner rolls...)
I've been a vegetarian for more than 3 years now. During the first few months, I had a hard time staying vegetarian. Looking back, it will still the choice I made (having a few cheats), no one else. No one forces you to put food in your mouth that you don't want unless you're a baby. I did feel pressure and I did start giving in around month 3, but I was sick everytime I ate it. I quit shortly after and vowed to never do it again. I did.. and I was sick and felt guilty again. It's been more than a year since I've had any kind of meat and honestly, it's been the greatest year of my life! My health problems calmed down tremendously when I stopped eating meat and I lost 15 pounds in 2 months, giving me self-esteem I had lacked for years.
I've been in situations where the only food for me was iceberg lettuce and rolls... and guess what I ate. That's right, lettuce and rolls. I'm willing to put the safety of others (animals) in front of my selfish wants (don't have those wants anymore, thank goodness). Once I saw slaughterhouse videos... never wanted to eat meat again. I've starved on my occasions and that's okay... skipping one or two meals is nothing... there are kids starving in other countries who are lucky to have one meal a week.
Anytime I go to someone's house (rarely a stranger), I tell them ahead of time I'm a vegetarian and I can bring my own food. It's no big deal unless you make it one. Just like it wouldn't be acceptable for a host to be mad that a Jewish friend won't eat pig, it's the same for vegetarians.
If a person is truly dedicated, they WILL do it. It gets to a point too where you're so used to not eating meat, it's not even a big deal. When I go out to restaurants, I don't say "Look at all of this food I can't eat." Instead, I think "I can't believe the amount of slaughtered animals they serve here." Even seeing a cooked corpse makes me sick to my stomach.
I am a Christian and I feel if I truly believe in my religion, I will stick to my beliefs, including not eating meat. Plus, it helps when you have a support group when you have society bringing you down. For some reason, it's socially acceptable to make fun of vegetarians. For anyone who's wanting to go vegetarian, the Veggieboards.com are the best!
I just don't understand why people get so weirded out when people chose not to fill their bodies with junk. If someone gets offended by my dietary choices, it's their problem, not mine.
I think society would be better off with more vegetarians... less demand for meat, less production of meat, less pollution, more healthy people, etc.
And the best way to stick with a vegetarian diet: plan ahead. That's the key. Make sure the host knows your dietary restrictions and make sure the restaurant you're going to has something (if not, call ahead and ask).