As someone who has grown up in an area dominated by agriculture, if you would’ve told me I’d be writing about how accessible it really is to keep a vegetarian lifestyle, I would not have believed you. Yet, here I am.
It started with conversations I was having with classmates, where the responses from many were “Oh, I would be a vegetarian but…” followed by an assortment of reasons. It was a debate that began to occupy my mind; what were the reasons students would choose not to eat vegetarian? More to the point, are these reasons justified?
A clear objection that emerged from my discussions was that for students, eating vegetarian substitutes instead of meat is too expensive. Most of our choices often come down to finances. Therefore, if people see swapping meat out as far too economically draining on their budget, it would not be an option seriously considered.
However, this does not need to be the case. Holding a vegetarian lifestyle can work out to be cheaper than eating meat. Many nutritionists have done studies and research into this. Athlete and blogger, Matt Frazier, comments on how, at roughly $3.50 a pound, meat can be a large portion of a grocery shop. He explains how switching it pound for pound with something such as beans would not be as expensive. Even more pricey options such as tofu still work out cheaper.
So if this is the real reason we are choosing not to eat as a vegetarian, we should adjust our thinking.
A lack of variety was a further issue that arose. There seemed to be concern that becoming a Vegetarian meant only eating bowls of greens or vegetables for meals. Again, this is a misconception.
At the start of my time at UBCO this year, a group of my friends and I decided we would split evening meals, each person cooking on their assigned evening. As most of them were Vegetarian, we cooked meals that were either entirely Vegetarian or with meat substitutes cooked separately. Although as time progressed, more often than not we just made meals without meat. To my surprise, the meals had as much variety and came to much the same as when I cooking only for myself. From soups to lasagnas, our evenings were full of healthy and balanced meals.
More importantly, neglecting meat did not mean neglecting a source of protein. Therefore we were still receiving all the nutrients from the food groups we require to maintain a healthy lifestyle; a factor that is essential for our ability to perform in our academic assignments.
Of course, some people choose to eat meat not because they feel it is too hard to be a Vegetarian, but simply because they want to. It is important to acknowledge that some people enjoy cooking and eating meat. As a free society, this is something that is paramount to accept free of pre-assumption or judgement.
While eating a Vegetarian diet is more accessible that people assume, this does not mean that it is a lifestyle everyone should be forced to adopt. Nor should there be criticisms placed upon those who chose not to do so. What is important, however, is that we let this choice be our reason for behind the lack of Vegetarianism, and not cite financial or health misconceptions as the determining factors of this deitarian decision.