5. Questions & Answers
I’m a little confused about lacto-vegetarians and lacto-ovo-vegetarians. What do you call a vegetarian who eats fish?
A hypocrit. You probably wanted a better answer than that. In the last few years, it has become fashionable to be a vegetarian or to be concerned about one’s diet and health. As a result, many more people are cutting back on the amounts of meat they eat. As soon as they eliminate pork or beef from their diet, these people usually proudly proclaim that they are vegetarians. They may continue to eat chicken or fish or perhaps they may eat meat only once a week or even once a year. They really aren’t too sure what to call themselves, yet they feel they must make some distinction between themselves and those people who continue to eat large quantities of meat.
Vegetarianism is already such an overused and misused word that it can scarcely afford any more bending or abusing by these well-meaning but misguided souls. Perhaps we
should call these people who eat only fish or chicken or meat irregularly “half-vegetarians” or “reforming carnivores.” Their goal is admirable, but their loose play with the term “vegetarian” only creates confusion in the public’s mind and does a disservice to those who are stronger in their beliefs and will avoid all meat.
Is there any good book that teaches someone how to be a vegetarian? How can we teach others about vegetarianism?
You don’t have to do anything to become a vegetarian. You just have to stop doing one thing: eating animals. Many books that conspire to help others become vegetarians are often full of meat-substitute recipes and devote far too much attention to the protein question. Some of the literature makes it sound like vegetarianism is a long and difficult transition, fraught with dietary perils. It is a fact: over 90% of all books on vegetarianism are bought by people who are already vegetarians.
A book or article may help a person make the final decision to give up meat once and for all. However, the desire to become a vegetarian must arise within the person himself. You cannot “argue” anyone into becoming a vegetarian. After the decision is made, however, you can offer your own support and provide an excellent example of the health-promoting effects of the vegetarian diet.
I want to become a vegetarian, but my husband is dead against it. The kids aren’t too crazy about giving up hamburgers, either. Help! I don’t want to start a family crisis, and I hate cooking two different meals all the time.
If you can’t solve a problem head-on, be clever. Your mistake may be that you are trying to confront or convert your family. Nobody likes to think that they have been wrong all their life, especially when it comes to something so basic as the diet. Your actions are making your family uncomfortable because now they must also re-examine their dietary beliefs and habits. Be patient with them.
First, you do not have to eat meat to please any of your family. It is possible to be the only vegetarian in a family of meat eaters. My advice is to gradually phase meat out from your family’s table. Don’t do this by offering them unfamiliar substitutes or “weird health foods.” Instead, try to have more and more of their favorite meatless dishes. Use meat more as a condiment or seasoning when you cook for them. Don’t make it a point to tell them how bad meat is; eating is an emotional experience, and rational arguments rarely sway anyone. Arguing will only reinforce their mistaken beliefs.
Above all else, be happy, cheerful, and positive about your new lifestyle. Radiate health and well-being. Set a good example and keep a sense of humor about yourself and your diet. Your spouse and children must decide on their own to stop eating meat; otherwise, the change may be only temporary and be made grudgingly. The good health and happiness that a vegetarian diet will afford you will eventually win over your family to your side. Be patient, persevere, and remain confident that you are totally correct in your decision and that only good will come from it.