I’ve asked the questions and I’ve gotten all sorts of answers. The majority of the answers I got back when I asked, “Vegetarianism, what’s your take?”, had to do with people’s beliefs, and I mean strong, personal beliefs. This means that I didn’t get specific suggestions or explanations on how to live a healthy, active, even athletic lifestyle on a vegetarian diet. What I did get were reasons why people live as vegetarians, which included their love and sympathy for animals’ lives as well as living responsibly by not contributing to what makes them personally uncomfortable, and doing this by not buying and/or eating animal products of different varieties.

Although that doesn’t give any new information or convince me to become a vegetarian, I think that’s fine. Whatever is deemed personal for whatever reason is allowable, as long as it doesn’t become defined as a social abnormality or psychological diagnosis, e.g. OCD. Most vegetarians I know just can’t bear the thought of putting carrion in their mouths to feed themselves because of the psychological ramifications. But, they all did grow up to be healthy and strong adults eating meat before the psychology made itself known. So, the quest for answers continues.

I was  a strict vegetarian for 12 years, so I can relate to what it must be like for some, if not most, vegetarians who eat dairy and eggs. I didn’t get the vast array of vegan junkfood and fake meats that are available now as a whole new food industry, so it is actually easier in big cities and in vegetarian cultures to say no to meat in 2011 and beyond. One of the reasons I began eating meat again is the constant grey area that being a vegetarian can cross into when hunger strikes and none of your acquaintances or friends are vegetarians, and this is the grey area that feels like a psychological abnormality. Another reason is that it makes situations difficult on your friends who have the right to eat whatever they want and now have to make special arrangements for your vegetarianism. Ultimately, I realized it was making life more difficult for me as well. If I decided I just wanted to loaf around and rarely test the limits of my strength and endurance, I’d probably still be the kind of vegetarian I used to be. Eating is still very exclusionary of unhealthy substances(processed foods, high amounts of starches and saturated fats, refined sugar, etc.) but easier because meat is never an issue anymore.

As a vegetarian, I’ve never been malnourished, so going from no meat to meat basically felt exactly the same to me and had no effect on my body or energy levels. The only thing that changed was the psychology, and it was very freeing. I do know that as a vegetarian I was consuming higher levels of carbohydrates in general, and with my new diet I am able to obtain more protein while having control over the amount of carbohydrates I ingest. For example, if I wanted proteins from beans, I’d have to consume the carbohydrates that came with the beans. Now I have the option of eating whole foods exactly the way I want to keep a certain dietary proportion of nutrients tailored for specific energy and strength requirements.

A lot has changed in the 25 years since I first decided to be a vegetarian, and although my own psychology has changed in terms of what is right for me, I am still intrigued about what an adequate vegetarian diet would include without just saying phrases like, “I’m not hungry, that’s all I need” in order to stay slim, and without wasting the body away under intense physical activity because nutritional needs are not being met due to a psychological aversion to the foods the body craves and needs(i.e. no foods with faces). It’s no secret that protein is available in many foods that even a vegan can devour like a hungry beast, but I find it all comes down to the way that you eat what you eat. You can’t be casual about what you eat, unless you are fine with looking like you are casual about what you eat, and that goes for everybody, meat or no meat. Just lift up your shirt over your abdomen and take a look and that will be the indicator of what kind of vegetarian you are. If you want to, look even further to the body’s largest organ, the skin, and see what kind of vegetarian you are. Even further, you can examine the different systems of the body and whether they are operating in harmony or under stress caused by nutrition.

I’ve read misleading sentences like “How does a Gorilla, which pound for pound is 10x stronger than a full grown man, become like this just by eating fruit, roots and green sprouts? Vegetarian protein sources provide it with all the materials it needs to do this.” How? By being a Gorilla, that’s how. The same thing can be said of cats, the argument being for eating carcasses. The answer there, of course, is that they are cats, not humans.

Every person is different and has a different type of body that responds differently to the environment. I know some people that would lose enough weight to look like a healthy, lean example of extreme strength if they decided to live a healthy vegetarian lifestyle, and I know some vegetarians who would begin to look healthy if they they just ate more healthy foods. You choose what works best for you – not what works best for the animals you feel sorry for, but what works best for you. Most vegetarians and vegans confuse sympathy and compassion. With compassion for animals, you don’t have to limit your life’s possibilities and opportunities for happiness by restricting what you eat. If you want to sympathize with the animals, you can wage your silent war one vegan whoopee pie at a time while watching the meat-eating machine continue on without a scratch and be able to sleep at night because you feel good about yourself. I salute all the vegetarians and vegans that have learned to alter their lives and diets for all the right reasons with all the right results, and I hope to learn a lot about life from them. Next, we’ll talk more about the specifics of what to eat and when and how much if you’re a vegetarian.