What does it mean to follow Vegetarian Diets when you are a Man in a Big City?


Last week for the first time after a year interval, I pulled myself together and went to a gym. I wanted to do everything right this time. That’s why I opened my wallet wide and paid for a private instructor. Therefore, everything started from a lecture about healthy diet, dietary and training regimen.

“…And what is most important, you should eat after each training. This has to be protein food. It can be chicken breast, tuna, something not fatty,” he explained to me. But I frankly said that it wouldn’t work out with chicken, because I didn’t eat meat. The same is about fish. I can only eat only dairy products. First, he didn’t get what I was talking about and then with unconcealed contempt, he said, “You must eat meat, you see? Otherwise, it doesn’t make any sense. At all.”

Long ago I decided not to try to prove anything to anyone. I could tell my instructor about my vegan friends, who eat just vegetables and nuts and became so thick with muscles that those eating muscle pills envy them. I could have explained that I’ve graduated from a school of medicine and I know all about proteins and carbohydrates and I have done lots of sports most of my life. But I hadn’t told him anything, since he wouldn’t have believed it anyway. Because his reality looks like this: there is no point without eating meat. At all.

There were the times when I, myself, didn’t believe that vegetarian strongmen exist, until I met one. On top of that, he was a rawtarian — it means that he didn’t eat anything except plants. He didn’t even drink soju cocktails, since they contained processed protein, not a raw one.

“Then where do all these muscles come from?” I asked him one day.

“And where do you think horses and cows get theirs?” he answered.

Vegetarians aren’t some disabled or just eccentric people. They are ordinary men, who live their ordinary lives. As for me, I’m even more normal than an average vegan, because I stopped eating meat not due to some vegetarian ideology.

It’s just I didn’t like meat as long as I remember. Well, of course I had to eat it when I was a child because parents, as a rule, do not ask their children much about their dietary requirements. However, after I left my parents’ house I stopped eating meat or any meat products.

Instead, I always loved fruits and vegetables. Especially, dry fruits. I can eat these several times a day and I enjoy such meals greatly. For example, my friends and acquaintances often ask me about what should they start eating to become vegetarians smoothly without any abrupt changes in their diet. I recommend starting from dried fruits and vegetables. First of all, it’s very tasty. Secondly, it is natural food. Thirdly, these are easy to cook at home using a special food dehydrator. I used to buy dried fruits, but now I get the best seasonal fruits when I want and dry them at home as much as I need.

A vegetarian’s life in a big city is much more comfortable than it’s considered by others. Even waiters in some reputable restaurants now see the difference between lacto-ovo-vegetarians (those who eat eggs and dairy products) and vegans (they eat only plants). This isn’t Africa, where for two weeks I used to eat Doshirak and bread. This was because in this unbelievably beautiful country they serve only two dishes: soup or fried meat. And as you may guess – soup is made of meat, as well.

My friends ask me if I ever get bored with vegetables with toppings. No, I don’t. When I go out for a dinner with my friends (no vegetarians among them), I just enjoy the company, communication, good beer or wine. Food, in this case, is just a snack. And when the others finish their evening with a final dessert and all they can do is just go to bed, my night only begins and I go dancing all night long.

By the way, I haven’t had any stomach problems for the last 10 years. I haven’t even had any abdomen heaviness. Actually, I get ill rarely, compared to my meat-eater friends.

The only thing that sometimes annoys me is attention or inattention of people to the peculiarities of my diet. For the last 15 years every time I come to my mother’s house, she keeps offering me some fish or meat patties hoping that maybe I’ll change my mind. In some unfamiliar and new companies, things get interesting too. Vegetarianism is usually taken as some kind of challenge.

“Oh no, don’t you agree that plants are living creatures, too? Or, why are you wearing leather boots then — it is kind of a mismatch.” I feel that it’s quite silly to give a detailed lecture about vegetarianism in such cases.

However, there are other vegetarians who, whatever the case, tend to accuse those who eat meat — and this annoys me as well. They are ready to kill anyone who doesn’t fight for animal rights or Amazon rain forests. They keep haunting customers in grocery shops. And, believe me, they cast a blight on my life, because I have to answer for what they do and say. The ill feeling they provoke in others is extended to me as well. Usually ordinary people don’t know much about the nuance of vegetarian types.

“Leave me alone, both of you, okay?”

Well, if you are very interested — yes, sometimes I do think I live more of a right life than you do, though the thought came to me many years after I stopped eating meat. Some time ago I used to live with a dedicated vegetarian girl, who taught me the strongest ideological argument in favor of vegetarianism. It’s not about people killing cows. That’s neither here nor there. The thing is that we grow cows for slaughter, more than we need, about twenty or even 100 times more. People have never eaten that much meat through the whole of human history. This looks like a slow suicide.

Sophisticated vegans think globally — planet resources, fresh water, clean air and so on. Not once has it been calculated that if humans hadn’t eaten meat, there would be more forests, water and so on. It would be enough for everyone. The thing is that 80 percent of forests are cut to create grazing lands for cattle. Most fresh water is used for the same purpose. Here is where you really start thinking: Are people eating meat, or vice versa?

In truth, I’d be glad if all of us stopped eating meat. Very glad, in fact, though I understand that expectations are low. I just keep eating my “grass” while trying to clean my conscience. I’m not trying to prove anything to anyone. Because what can I prove, if for 99 percent of all of us there is no point without meat. At all.

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Mike Tartau
Mike Tartau is a traveler, freelancer and vegetarian. He works remotely and spends his free time traveling to exotic parts of the world. Contact him at https://homeffect.com.


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