While being a vegetarian isn’t for everyone (and neither is Pamela Anderson), I talk to lots of people every day who tell me they’d like to become vegetarian, but it seems like it would be too hard, and they don’t have the willpower.
But becoming a vegetarian, for me and for many others, is the easiest thing in the world.
If you’re not interested in becoming vegetarian or vegan, please skip this post (and don’t flame me in the comments). But I’ve had numerous people, just in the last week or so, ask me to post about becoming a vegetarian, as I seem to have become a poster boy for vegetarianism (move over, Pamela Anderson!).
So in this post we’ll look at some suggestions and tips for becoming a vegetarian without too much difficulty, and some reasons you might consider it.
Why Become Vegetarian?
Again, let me state that vegetarianism isn’t for everyone. If you are fanatically devoted to meat (and I was at one time, so I understand), you might not be interested. If you already eat healthy, or you’re not interested in your health, you might not be interested.
- Cut the fat. While meat provides a lot of protein, it also provides a ton of fat — especially saturated fat. Which means that by cutting out meat, you’ll be cutting out a lot of bad fat, and replacing it with things that are probably not only lower in fat, but that contain some good fats. This greatly reduces your risk of heart disease, and in fact numerous studies have shown that vegetarians tend to have a lower risk of heart disease, as well as hypertension, diabetes, cancer and other diseases. Read more here.
- Less food poisoning. Food poisoning gets millions of people each year — and many of them from meat, which is a good breeding ground for harmful bacteria, especially if not stored, prepared or cooked exactly right. Cut out meat and you lower your risk of food poisoning (especially if you also cut out eggs and dairy, but that’s optional).
- Reduce the suffering. You probably don’t want to hear about the horrific treatment of animals that are raised for food, even before they are slaughtered for our benefit. But suffice it to say, there are great amounts of suffering involved, and by cutting out meat, you are reducing your involvement in that. Read more here.
- Help the environment. There are actually numerous ways that the meat industry harms the environment, from a waste of our resources (animals raised for food eat enough grain to feed the world), to a waste of fuel, to the pollution caused by their waste matter, and much more. Read more about that here.
- Help your weight loss. It’s possible to be vegetarian and eat very unhealthy foods, including Coke and fries and fried stuff and pizza and chips. But it’s much more difficult. Studies repeatedly show that vegetarians are slimmer and are less likely to be obese than meat eaters. If you’re trying to lose weight, being a vegetarian can be a good part of your program.
- Get more nutrition. In general (though not necessarily), vegetarians replace meat with more nutritious foods, such as fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, and so on. If you do that, you will be getting more of the nutrients your body needs, giving you better health, less illness, and more energy.
20 Tips for Becoming a Vegetarian So, if you’d like to become a vegetarian, without too much trouble, here are my suggestions:
- Have good reasons. If you just want to become vegetarian for kicks, you probably won’t stick with it for long — not because it’s hard, but because any lifestyle change or habit change requires a little bit of motivation. You need to first think about why you want to become vegetarian, and really believe in it. The rest is easy.
- Read up. Before starting anything new, I tend to read as much as possible about whatever it is that I’ll be doing. I suggest you do so with vegetarianism. Check out a couple of good books from the library (or better yet, borrow from vegetarian friends). And there are tons and tons of good sites on the Internet. One of my favorites is GoVeg.com.
PHOTO: Sonia Monteiro of DeRose Antas School, Porto, Portugal
When I first started doing yoga, decades ago, many people thought it was a slightly feminine undertaking. And I have to admit, even today the majority of the students at my local yoga school are women — although that is changing. But the only people who think yoga is not a rigorous, difficult, often even aerobic activity are those who have never taken a class.
I’ll never forget one class I took in which there were three men among about a dozen women. It was a very ordinary, relatively basic class. At one point, the instructor guided us into chaturanga dandasana, the “plank” or staff pose. It’s basically like doing a pushup halfway down — and then holding it. The young woman instructor remained in the pose, calming issuing little tips and giving suggestions, her voice calm and not betraying even a hint of strain. Read more
I just finished reading Leo Damrosch’s magisterial 2005 biography of Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Restless Genius) and I’ve been thinking a lot about how Rousseau’s vision ties in neatly with what Christian Yoga is all about. (Full disclosure: My wife hates Rousseau because he forced his lifelong mistress, Therese Levasseur, to give up their five children to foundling homes and then had the temerity to instruct women on why they should breastfeed their children and raise them according to his precepts.)
Rousseau, born in Switzerland in 1712, was basically a professional vagabond and loafer who ran away from his home in Geneva at the age of 16, was almost entirely self-taught, and who earned his living through menial jobs, copying musical manuscripts and writing books that both titillated and outraged most of Europe. Rousseau’s basic argument is that “civilization,” far from being an engine of progress and advancement, is actually a corrosive, even destructive force. Read more