LOOKING for: Was it hard to change your dietary habits?

LifeIsSweetSeptember 19, 2002

Actually I just posted below, but I'm really curious about adopting a *more vegetarian* diet, plus cut out sugar, processed foods, corn, flour, peanuts, etc. (I've been reading how these can cause bloating, etc, so I'd like to at least cut back). I have type 1 diabetes and asthma, and am starting to believe/feel that I REALLY NEED to make some serious changes in my diet. But I come from a long line of southern fried chicken, bbq smacking friends and family. They tease me and dh for drinking water!!! What I'm trying to say is, it will be personally DIFFICULT for me to change (because I love junk food and meat), plus I won't have much support, except for my husband. But part of me feels desperate to change! Any advice/personal stories??? I would really like to hear from you! Thanks. ~ Holly

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Hi Holly,

I've been vegetarian for 5 years and a vegan for 4. The change was not difficult once I decided that morally and healthwise it was the right thing to do.

A good healthfood store can sell you products that look and taste just like your former favorites and will satisfy your cravings. I also strongly suggest The Compassionate Cook as a great resource to help you with the change. Every item in there is tasty, easy, and tested.

Regards your friends, if they really are friends, they will support you and your chosen lifestyle. Good luck and make the change today! :-)


    Bookmark   September 20, 2002 at 4:44PM
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Been a veggie for 25+ years. The way we did it was gradually. Started with 1 meatless day a week until we were comfortable with it. ---then 2 days and all the way up to all days.
I think you'll find a lot more acceptance today than we had then.
One easy way to start is to make a meal you're used to and just substitute something meatless for the meat course of that meal. Mushrooms work well.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2002 at 10:45AM
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Thank you!!! ~ Holly

    Bookmark   September 22, 2002 at 4:17PM
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Try Vegweb.com for recipes and great forums to help you ease into eating differently. I found it helped me a lot. Good luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: VegWeb - Veggies Unite!

    Bookmark   September 22, 2002 at 11:10PM
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As everyone else suggests, go slow. I changed from a meat-eater to a vegetarian ( almost vegetarian, I eat a little of our own free-range turkeys-maybe once every 2 weeks) within 2 years.
The problem is not, not to eat meat anymore, the problem is how to substitute meat and change a lifelong habit.
I feel so much better, since not eating meat anymore. Right now I am in the process of cutting down on cheese a lot. Never liked milk, so that was easy.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2002 at 7:55PM
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I am vegetarian to the point that I don't eat meat, fish or fowl. I do use dairy products but I don't use eggs because I don't like them. I have tried the various meat substitute products made from soy and other vegetable protein. What I don't like about these products is that they are textured like meat, especially the ones that are replacements for ground beef. I hate the texture of ground beef and I hate the texture of the vegetable meat substitute products. Why do they texture this stuff with that awful ground beef texture that I hate? Judith

    Bookmark   October 23, 2002 at 3:23PM
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It's been so long that our diet changed that it is almost difficult to remember LOL We changed because I really don't like the smell of meat cooking and husband has a genetic linked disease which causes extremely high cholesterol and triglycerides. If you occasionally feel the need for a meat dish, the world won't end. Just cook it with no added fat, and portion control is a must! McD's does not serve correct portions. Stay away from all fast food places. They are supersizing people into strokes. Children now have cholesterol readings by age 8 that didn't used to show up until they reached their 50's! For meat that won't hurt occasionally, choose buffalo, emu, or ostrich. IF you need an incentive, visit the nearest nursing facility or home. Do you really want to end up there?

    Bookmark   December 7, 2002 at 12:21PM
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SInce your DH is on board, I don't think you will have too much of a problem most of the time. It's really tough when not everyone wants to be a vegetarian (or one goes vegan and the other won't). People eventually get used to planning for your tastes. Several friends are various shades of vegetarian and it's really no big deal to plan menus with them.

DH doesn't know it yet, but I'm starting to go vegetarian on New Years (the only resolution I've ever made). I'm cutting out land animals first; I already don't eat pork because all those pretty pictures of eastern NC towns covered on floating pig poop after the nearby hog lagoons overflowed during Huricane Fran kinda turned me off of pig. Go figure. That part will be easy. I probably won't cut out seafood, though. Maryland steamed crabs are too good to give up. I'm careful about overfishing issues (the swordfish ban was difficult), but I don't think I can give up the taste.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2002 at 10:09PM
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You'll be surprised how your tastes change when you start exploring other ways to eat. I only set out to give up red meat and wound up totally veggie(ovo-lacto)

    Bookmark   December 18, 2002 at 1:54PM
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Can someone explain the difference between a vegan and a vegetarian?And can someone share a site that would explain the why's and all that a possibly future convert would need to know? THanks alot.Shelia

    Bookmark   January 16, 2003 at 1:50PM
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A vegetarian abstains from eating flesh but generally will consume eggs, milk, and honey. A vegan does not consume any animal product nor does she wear or use anything of animal origin.


    Bookmark   February 20, 2003 at 8:58PM
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What would someone who does not eat ANY animal products but wears lots of black leather be called?


    Bookmark   September 24, 2003 at 7:49AM
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It hasn't been hard for me, but I'm not a vegan. When I'm in someone else's house for dinner, I eat mostly the vegetarian foods and just a tiny bit of meat. However, by now most know I prefer to abstain from it so they try to acommodate me.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2003 at 6:49PM
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What would someone who does not eat ANY animal products but wears lots of black leather be called?

Conflicted? Foolish? Annoying?


    Bookmark   December 30, 2003 at 2:36PM
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Sunnyco, I'd call them a hypocrite...but it depends on why they are vegetarian. I won't eat anything that had a mother. I only eat free range eggs. I do eat cheese, because I'm concerned about protein, but I'd like to get to the point where I'm not dependent on that. I work very hard to find non-animal products for purses and shoes.

Lifeissweet, can't advise you about diet as far as diabetes is concerned, but I understand that the guidelines proposed by "The Zone" diet, and the Harvard Medical School are supposed to be good for diabetics. Neither are strictly vegetarian, but they seem to offer good advice on a balanced diet, and pay attention to foods that cause insulin to sky-rocket.


    Bookmark   January 1, 2004 at 1:08AM
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Interesting thread!

I am a vegan, have been for about 8 years. This is a long post because the subject is important to me. My reasons for becoming a vegan are closely related to how easy it was to change my eating habits, so I am going to be somewhat detailed.

In answer to the original question posted, I did not find it difficult to change my eating habits. I started out eating no dairy and no meat or poultry, but eating seafood. That decision was motivated by learning about factory farming and the way animals in the US are inhumanely treated when they are being raised for slaughter. And also by learning that egg production and milk production are related industries (male calves of dairy cows may be sold for veal, for example) and that the conditions in those are also disturbing.

I hadn't known. I should say that I hadn't made it my business to know, despite a very close friend who is a vegan and an animal activist. It took me several years of knowing her before I made the decision to really find out. So, I don't judge people who are taking steps on the path to being a vegan or vegetarian, or who care deeply for cats and dogs but still eat cows and chickens, or who eat completely vegetarian diets but also wear leather. Everyone walks their own path in their own time.

Anyway, when I learned how animals in the US are routinely mutilated and caged and restrained in tiny spaces and painfully transported and slaughtered, I couldn't put another bite of chicken or beef in my mouth. I stopped eating seafood shortly after that, because I just became uncomfortable eating anything that had been alive, or killing it for clothing. (I have heard that this is pretty common for people who start out being vegetarian or partially vegetarian.)

So, I try not to use animal-derived products. I say try, because this is the real world, and occasionally I make compromises. If I am on a business trip in Ohio, out to dinner with clients, and the only close-to-vegan thing on the menu is a veggie burger that is a brand that uses egg whites, I may order it. (If I am on my own, I will find someplace else to go, but I can't always control the restaurant for business meals.) I would prefer a vegan veggie burger, and I will mention that to the wait staff, but I also feel there is value in supporting any restaurant's efforts to offer vegetarian alternatives.

I also compromise sometimes about insects. If necessary I will kill bugs that invade my home. I rescue spiders, but I have exterminated ants in the kitchen or (yech!) roaches in my office building. I have purchased four silk blouses in the last 8 years, and now and then used products with honey in them.

Making those compromises does not in my view make me a hypocrite, or vitiate my commitment, or devalue the major life changes I have made. They just mean I am human.

I don't preach to people who eat meat, or comment on what they are eating. (It is MUCH more likely that someone will ask me about my food choices, and then make a comment to me, along the lines of 'wasn't that carrot alive, too' or something equally original. I ignore it and am generally quite polite. It gets old, however.) I don't bring up the subject of the cruelty of factory farming. If someone _asks_ why I am a vegan, I say that I am a vegan for ethical reasons, because factory farming in the US is often inhumane, and it disturbs me. I am not graphic or inflammatory -- I don't go beyond that statement to describe the grotesque practices that are commonplace. (This post is far more graphic than I ever am in casual conversation.)

I also usually say that I find it easy to be a vegan -- which is true -- because it feels right to me. My day-to-day actions are integrated with my moral outlook. (By which I mean, but generally don't bluntly say, that I don't have to do that thing of not picturing what I am eating, not thinking about what it used to be, and how it was killed, and cut apart, and cooked.) I try to give an answer that is true to my beliefs, but that is also respectful of the other person. I try to do what my vegan friend did for me, for years -- she told me what she believed in, and left it to me to find my own time and place to learn and to make my own decision.

At any rate, that is my long and involved answer to the question; obviously I found it to be an interesting question, and I wanted to give my perspective. Thanks for reading it.

Happy New Year to everyone, and be well,

Seeking Flow

PS If you are interested, Farm Sanctuary's website is informative about factory farming. See link below.

Here is a link that might be useful: Farm Sanctuary Website

    Bookmark   January 1, 2004 at 8:36AM
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This is an intersting thread. I became a vegetarian in stages. When I was 16 or 17, I stopped eating beef and pork. A couple of years later, I stopped eating poultry and fish followed shortly after. I do still eat dairy and occassionally eggs.

Changing your eating habits (or any other for that matter) can be difficult unless you are really have a reason, motivation and support to do so. You seem to me to have all 3. Try getting a few vegetarian cookbooks from the library. You will probably discover many new and yummy recipies to try. There are also lots of ways to make some of your favorite non vegetarian foods meatless by substituting with things like beans and soy analogs.

Good luck! I bet the transition will be easier than you think!

    Bookmark   January 9, 2004 at 11:28PM
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I'm dating a guy who is not a vegetarian and the whole thing seems odd to him because he thinks "everything is a side dish," so this has given me a little insight into the difficulty of switching to a vegetarian diet. The key thing is, vegetarianism is a lot more than just not eating meat, it is a whole lifestyle.

Being an vegetarian for ecological and health reasons, it is a lot more important to me that my food is low fat, organic, locally grown and minimally processed rather than strictly "without meat." I also like to eat whole grains and lots of vegetables and I like food that tastes yummy, I don't want to feel deprived. I suggest you start by trying to incorporate whole grains and fresh fruits and veggies into your diet. Seek out recipes that combine lots of ingredients and meals that combine several different dishes, then you won't miss the meat. Don't just serve up your regular meal without the meat. Vegetarian meals are not like "meat, vegetable, salad, roll and dessert." They may be three salads, for example. Start with the familiar--pasta, salad and whole grain roll, soup and salad and whole grain bread, vegetarian versions of familiar casseroles--scalloped potatoes, goulash, shepard's pie, baked beans, etc. Quiche is easy to make too. Then, when you're feeling comfortable with the new cooking techniques and new menu style, you can start to branch out. You may want to try substituting tofu for dairy in some dishes. You may want to experiment with meat substitutes--I recommend the Mornigstar Farms and Yves brands.

I recommend subscribing to Vegetarian Times magazine, it is not that expensive and a lot of what is in it is meant to support folks who are just getting started, along with suggestions for branching out. They have a great feature where folks submit recipes and they develop low fat vegetarian versions.

You have to get used to whole foods, but once you do, you will never want to go back, processed food will just taste too tame! Good luck.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2004 at 11:27AM
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"What would someone who does not eat ANY animal products but wears lots of black leather be called? "

Just as deserving of the right to live his/her life the way he/she chooses as those who choose vegan for animal rights reasons.

There are as many reasons to be veg or vegan as there are people who chose this path. Imposing your point of view on others (or assuming that they share your point of view because you have some things in common) is no more graceful for the far left as it is for the far right.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2004 at 12:31AM
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Here is a book that my nutritionist recommended

I cut most foods out of my diet in October and am following a diet prescribed by a nutritionist and monitored by my doctor. I was having lots of health problems and knew instinctively that I had to do something. It has been very difficult to adjust to and since it was a diet to detox my liver from all the meds I'd been taking for years I felt very sick for several months....but I am feeling a lot better now. I gave up all forms of sugar, salt, wheat, all grains, soy, chicken, pork, all seasonings except fresh mayo, lemon, lime and herbs. Oddly enough I was told to eat beef and lamb which I have avoided for years to rebuild my adrenals. The diet is tailored for each persons needs.
I did lose 20 lbs before the diet due to stomach troubles and 20 lbs after due to the detox process. I didn't really need to lose any weight so being very thin has been somewhat uncomfortable. For me I think this might be the most important thing I have ever done for myself...but it has been very difficult to go without so many things. A nutritionist might be able to help you find the right foods and help you with coping skills. I understand that salt is especially bad for asthmatics.
I eat mostly organic alkaline veggies and eggs and meat.
I can't have nuts or beans right now because of the sugar. When I cheat I feel so drained and fluish that I don't go there too often. This diet is restricted for a short time period - eventually I should be able to add back most everything in moderation. I have noticed that I get bloated, back pain, among other things when I eat grains.

I cope by remebering it is temporary and that I need to get better so I can enjoy the rest of my life - feeling good is a joy.

BTW, I am not recommending anyone go on a drastic diet - I am just sharing my experience.
and sorry for posting the bit about meat in a vegetarian forum.
Be sure the veggies you eat are oraganic if possible - much better for you and the earth.

good luck figuring out what you want to do

    Bookmark   April 7, 2004 at 4:41PM
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Fascinating! I've read the entire thread, as *someday* I may get serious about this veggie thing. In the meantime, I can recommend a website that is for vegans.

It's by Hallelujah Acres and has a wealth of information and support. These folks eat very "garden of Eden," recommending a mostly raw diet. There are recipes and tips from joyful people. Good for exploration.


Here is a link that might be useful: Hallelujah Acres

    Bookmark   June 12, 2004 at 12:30PM
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I like your answer the best! I was surprised at paulmyoung's reply becuase I know a few people who do not eat meat, eggs or dairy products (a couple who eat raw foodsalmost exclusively) but do not have an objection to owning leather furniture or wearing leather shoes. They do not appear to be conflicted, foolish or annoying but they are very healthy and energetic!

I am moving toward a vegetarian diet with very little dairy and some eggs. I will probably end up almost-vegan since that is the diet I think is healthiest. I will probably never completely quit eating honey, though I am cutting most sugar out of my diet so I will not eat much. I will not quit wearing leather, or at least I don't plan to.

The biggest problem I am having is that I can not each much soy, so that eliminates a whole bunch of meat substitutes and tofu, which I have used quite a bit in the past as a meat and dairy sub.

This is not an easy transition for me but it is important.



    Bookmark   July 4, 2004 at 6:08PM
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Pronunciation: 'vE-g&n also 'vA- also 've-j&n or -"jan
Function: noun
Etymology: by contraction from vegetarian
: a strict vegetarian who consumes no animal food or dairy products; also : one who abstains from using animal products (as leather)

    Bookmark   July 8, 2004 at 8:23AM
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Try to get ahold of as many exotic & interesting fruits & vegetables as you can so good food is more exciting. For example, start growing your own vegetables, concentrating on unusual tomatoes, asian vegetables, unusual eggplants, spices, etc.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2004 at 11:14PM
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The real problem with being vegetarian is dealing with the social implications. Example: Christmas Eve tradition in our family consists of meeting at my brother's house for Mexican food. Since my husband and I have been vegetarians, we don't eat the meat enchiladas and meat tamales normally served. We try not to make a big issue and just eat the cheese dip, olives, rice and beans but I always have a sense that everyone else is uncomfortable.

I am currently considering trying to phase into being vegan. I know this will be even worse as far as social issues. I just wish other people didn't feel so uncomfortable about it.

I have to decide which I feel more strongly about, making people feel uncomfortable socially or being conerned about the abuse of animals along with the unhealthy manner in how the animals/meats are handled when up for sale. Unhealthy used here in respect to the consumer.

Another problem is that it seems that many associate begin vegetarian with being unpatriotic.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2004 at 1:31PM
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Alice - Have you tried bean tamales (no lard)? Maybe you could bring some bean tamales to share and it would make everyone (including you) more comfortable. Not that I think it is your job to make any "comfortable" with your dietary choices. (I've not eaten meat for close to 20 years, but it never failed - for probably 15 years my mom would ask me EVERY Thanksgiving if I was still not eating turkey.)
If you decide to try them, look in the freezer section of your store. They are pretty common around here.
For OP, Holly: Make your changes over time, as has been suggested. Start with meatless meals worked into your routine and grradually increase the number. Try things like veggie burgers and Tofu dogs, if that fits better into your lifestyle than recipes that are really different for you.
TBS, eventually do try some of the more exotic meals - I think the key is that you need not to feel deprived. For some of us, our original reasons for becoming veggie were for reasons other than health and I think that makes it easier. Good Luck!

    Bookmark   October 4, 2004 at 5:30PM
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I assumed the bean tamales were made with lard. I'll look and see if there are any without lard. That would help some, probably.


    Bookmark   October 5, 2004 at 12:30AM
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Anyone interested in reading a book that comes from an interesting angle explores the raising of farm animals in this country should read "Fast Food Nation". It's an interesting read.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2004 at 7:29PM
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I thought this was an interesting topic -- I recently had to completely reform my diet, due to high cholesterol. I cut out red meat completely, and am only occasionally having chicken or fish. This is actually something I had been wanting to do for a while, as I've always felt uncomfortable eating meat...but the thing holding me back was that I don't like vegetables very much! Well, when you're hungry enough, even peas and carrots look yummy ;)

The thing I've found that works well is finding substitutes for as much as possible; a lot of the meat substitutes are actually pretty good. I've even learned to like tofu (it really tastes kind of like bland chicken). The hard part for me is that I've never been much of a cook, and so ate mostly prepackaged meals. That doesn't work very well anymore, since most tv meals are far too high in fat to fit into my diet plan...so I've actually had to start cooking. It's fun now; give it another few months, and I may feel differently.

The other hard part has been getting my husband to go along with it (he has high cholesterol as well). He's turned up his nose at most things I eat, but we've managed to find some compromises: home-made veggie pizza, or tacos made with crumbled soy are a couple of surprisingly good meals he'll eat. I'm going to take a gander through this forum and see what else I can find :)

    Bookmark   December 18, 2004 at 1:55AM
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Here are a couple of cookbooks that might help:

Mayo Clinic-Williams-Sonoma cookbook
The Healthy Kitchen, by Andrew Weil and Rosey Daily.

Both have excellent recipes that aren't difficult to cook and food that tastes good for what it is, not as a substitute for something else.

Even our teenage son liked chickpea fritters from Weil's book.

You can find both of them online.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2004 at 2:00PM
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Hi! In response to the original question (was it hard to change your diet?) NO! I am a veggie for moral & ethical reasons. A while back, I did a little investigation into factory farming, and what I found out made me lose my taste for meat forever. For me, it was that simple. It was also a bit easy for me also, because I've always actually preferred vegetables, and grow most of my own.
The health benefits of a meatless (and dairyless) diet are great - my sky high cholestorel went WAY down within a couple of months, I generally feel more energetic, I've lost a little weight and am able to keep it off, and my conscience is clear of causing harm to another living being.
If there's a Whole Foods or Earth Fare near you, try 'em out. There are lots of meat-alternatives available, such as Wham (meatless ham), Tuno (meatless tuna), and lots more. By incorporating these into your diet, you will still be getting all the protein you need.
Good Luck!

    Bookmark   February 11, 2005 at 7:58AM
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I'm originally from Iowa and adopted a vegetarian lifestyle in the early 1980's when I was a freshman in High School. I was working on a school report and was totally disgusted at how animals were treated in the factory farms. My parents were totally unsupportive and I received many a lecture on how I was an embarrassment, not to tell their friends, how they could loose business, etc. (they manufacture animal health products, among other things). Well, to make a long story short, they were unsupportive about a lot of things and I'm still a vegetarian! I don't think there is a stigma like there once was and restaurants are paying attention. It's so nice to go to a restaurant today and have something other than a grilled cheese sandwich. When I am in a social situation, I don't make a big deal about it. People may notice, but it seems more people are curious. My husband was a total meat and potato guy when we met 8 years ago. I still make meat for him - or buy it and he grills it, but more and more he is choosing veggie too. I really enjoy Vegetatian Times as a resource for recipes. Good luck!

    Bookmark   July 3, 2006 at 11:40PM
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