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'Vegetarian' or 'a vegetarian'?

Updated on June 27, 2015

It's a subtle difference, but important

Are you 'vegetarian' or 'a vegetarian'? Is there actually a difference? To me, yes there is. You see, for many years, I ran a health food store. I was (and still am) vegetarian. But I object to being called 'a vegetarian'. Maybe I'm pedantic, but here's my reasoning.

You see, so if you don't eat meat and fish, that's is like being left handed, blonde, skinny ... it's just another description that says who you are. To be 'a vegetarian' is rather like saying I'm a Martian, or a Democrat or a Mongolian - it's WHO you are as opposed to WHAT traits you have. Being veggie is only a small part of what make you into you, a truly unique person. By using the phrase 'a vegetarian' it can make us sound to be a cliquey group which excludes others. That's such a shame in this day and age, isn't it?


A new vegetarian in the family? Arrgh!

When I had my health food store I frequently met appalled mothers who told me that their teenage son or daughter had become 'a vegetarian'.

This made it sound as though they had become something truly weird. (Martian, Klingon, alien etc.)

Yet every single day, people choose to make amendments to their diet for various reasons. People don't become a 'glutenfree-arian' or a fatfree-arian' - they just choose to cut out gluten or fat. Why should cutting out meat or fish 'turn' one into that strange being; 'a vegetarian'?

These mothers seemed to think that all of a sudden, they had an alien in their midst; someone really strange and weird.

'What' they would say to me ' what do these people eat?' I would reply blithely 'Oh, you know. Pies, pizzas, casseroles, stews, sandwiches, pasta and rice dishes ... strange stuff like that ...'



Number one

You see, something that is often overlooked is that to be vegetarian doesn't mean living exclusively on vegetables. (If you did, you'd be called vegan; vegans eat no animal products at all.) Cheese, milk, eggs, pasta - your weird new veggie probably eats all those foods.

Number two

One misconception that I often come across is that people who follow a vegetarian diet don't eat red meat but do eat chicken and fish! There are some people who follow this type of diet but it's incorrect to call them vegetarians. (My mum used to do this, much to my amusement).

Number three

A very frequent misconception is that when you have someone who follows a meat-free diet in your family - or when you decide that you're going to give up eating meat and fish yourself - is that you will have to develop new ways of cooking and use unusual ingredients. That's simply not the case.

A variety of meat-free meals
A variety of meat-free meals | Source

Recipe ideas - These are some of my favorite meat-free meal ideas.

These are my favorite meat free recipes and are meals that I make on a very regular basis. I'll add to these when more recipes are published.

Further reading

Life is so easy for today's veggie. There are some wonderful cookbooks available to help you. They make fantastic gifts too.

Whatever type of food you and your family prefers, you'll find that there are books tailored to your own tastes.

Photo credits

All photographs © me!.


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