Help! I’m a Veg Head in a Meat Eaters World

Image by Stephanie Studer

Image by Stephanie Studer

On our recent trip to Asheville, NC, I was struck with just how easy it was to order vegetarian entrees and have lots of meat-free options to choose from. How lucky, I thought, that plant based folks had so many options in this more progressive town! This definitely isn’t the typical case back here at home. In the Midwest we still love casseroles, cheesy sauces and meat in everything. After more than a decade of being meat free I sometimes forget how challenging it was in the beginning to make the transition to full time vegetarian. And then I visit a place like Asheville and see how it could be even easier and feel grateful I have learned to navigate my food choices with more ease.

If you find you live in a less vegetarian/vegan conscious town then this one is for you- some of my best tips for supporting yourself as you go against the grain of the community around you with grace and more ease.

  • Plan Ahead | if you are dining out check the menu of the restaurant online first and get a feel for the menu. Not a lot of veg options? You can either 1) suggest a new venue if possible or 2) eat a meal ahead of time and enjoy a salad or some veg side dishes at the restaurant. There is nothing worse than showing up somewhere to find not a lot of options and then feeling hungry and unsatisfied.

  • Bring a Dish | this has been so integral to connecting with family over my vegetarianism. I offer to bring a dish to cookouts, holiday meals, and casual family gatherings that ensures I get the nourishment I need and they get the opportunity to try a plant based dish. Most folks don’t know plant based can be so delicious, knock their socks off with something special!

  • Be Non-Judgemental | I learned early on that standing on a soapbox would not in fact make people eat less meat. This is where bringing a dish and encouraging veg friendly restaurants as options for a night out has helped lead by example instead of by judgement. You don’t want your food choices to create a chasm between you and loved ones, but instead a bridge of possibility for them to explore plant based living and it’s benefits.

  • Find Veg Head Friends | having a support system really helps. Sharing recipes, resources, and ways to show up in a meat eaters world can be invaluable in learning to not just be a compassionate eater but a compassionate human. Isn’t that the goal of eating a Sattvic (peaceful) and Ahimsa (non-violent) Diet?

It can definitely be more challenging to show up in this way when you are the minority- it’s wild to see how more accepted plant based is on the coasts or in larger cities. But remember that you are a trailblazer- making way for it to be more acceptable and mainstream to choose plants over animals in your community. And that, to me, is truly doing the good work.

Are you a vegetarian/vegan/ plant based foodie with tips that make it easier? Share your wisdom below and keep the conversation going!