Care of Autumn Ladouceur – Past TVA Communications Intern

One of my favourite stereotypes that I’ve faced during my time as a vegetarian is that we are all members of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and that just because I’m a vegetarian, I want to parade around town in a bikini made of lettuce leaves.

But alas, this is untrue! My bikini is made of hemp!

So today, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Vegetarian Food Festival which recently passed, I give you a blog post that will hopefully debunk 30 popular vegetarian stereotypes.

When you consider vegetarian stereotypes, the first ones to come to mind are the ones surrounding nutrition. What’s funny is they seem to contradict themselves often.

IMAG0132All vegetarians eat healthy and are skinny. Wait! No! Actually, they’re malnourished. Or, no! They take tons of supplements to make up for their lack of meat. And if they don’t, they must all work out and drink quinoa smoothies, or whatever the new health craze is!

In fact, like all people, vegetarians vary from the hyper-health food junky, work-out type, to the marathon the latest HBO series and eat 100 doughnuts from Through Being Cool type.

Though the ones who are the best example, like all people, are the ones who moderate. They eat some healthy foods and some junk, they work out and they relax to obtain a balanced lifestyle. The same thing we’re all striving for.

Not everything has to be whole grain, gluten-free and organic and this is not what every vegetarian wants all the time.

Also we have an array of food-related stereotypes. The most common are, “WOAH, YOU’RE VEGETARIAN? What do you do? Do you sit around and eat salad all day? Vegetarian food sucks! All you eat is soy! There are no good food choices.”

In fact, we all have our own favourite food preferences, but there are tons of incredible, plant-based meals to be had in any city, town, or even made at home.

If you are new to vegetarian cuisine, my advice is to try the vegetarian option at your favourite Indian restaurant. The minute you get your hands on a good Chana Masala or Aloo Gobi, you’ll forget all about your stereotypes and hang up your hang-ups for good!

For some great vegetarian friendly restaurant options in Toronto and the GTA, check out TVA’s own Vegetarian Directory here.

We also have the stereotype that vegetarian food is expensive. Some specialty items like fancy fake-meat products and superfoods can be, but you can make delicious, healthy, vegetarian food at home, on a budget.

For instance, a delicious vegetarian chili will cost you under $15 and can last a few meals! (Check out the recipe below).

My $15 chili recipe also busts the stereotype that vegetarian food is hard to make. All you need to do is stir everything in one pot!

Just because I’m vegetarian doesn’t mean I ruin holidays like Thanksgiving either! Click here to check out a blog post with some great holiday recipes.

autumn luke hibiscusMy favourite stereotypes of them all are the ones having to do with vegetarian personality traits.

Just because I’m vegetarian, doesn’t mean I want your opinion, or that I feel the need to preach my own. It also doesn’t mean I think I’m better than you, I think you’re wrong, I don’t like you/want to be around you because you eat meat, or I don’t understand how you feel.

Aside from those who were raised vegetarian, we were all meat-eaters once, and we understand how you feel. Also, just because I’m vegetarian, doesn’t mean I don’t date meat eaters. 😉

We also don’t have the unwavering willpower that is expected of all of us. We make mistakes all the time, and sometimes cravings get the better of us, however we work on ourselves everyday and take strides toward our own ideal lifestyle.

Although I happen to be a proud, dirty hippy myself, not all vegetarians are smelly, Birkenstock wearing, indie music playing, granola-eating, nature-loving, hacky sack kicking, hairy armpitted urban farm hipsters.

People are people. To each their own.

Cheap ‘n easy vegetarian chili

Ingredients:

  • 1 small onion
  • 1 green pepper
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 celery
  • 1 can tomatoes
  • 1 can of kidney beans
  • chili powder, cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper to taste

Cooking instructions:

In a large pot, fry onion in olive oil on medium heat until it is golden brown. Add carrot and celery and simmer for 10 minutes. Add green pepper and simmer for 5 minutes. Add can of tomatoes, and spices and let simmer for 15 minutes. Add can kidney beans and simmer for 5 minutes.

It’s as easy as that! And, you can tweak this recipe by adding coconut milk, curry powder and chickpeas instead of kidney beans and you’ve got yourself a chickpea curry.