Vegetarian for a year: here is my assessment

The first time I expressed the wish to become a vegetarian, I was around seven years old. This surprised my family, to say the least, who were used to eating meat every day. Even back then, the idea of ​​eating what had once been a living being shocked me deeply. But at this age, we reproduce the behaviors of those around us, and above all we are not taken seriously. I finally gave up by giving in to the call of my parents' good food.
Ten years later, I made a second attempt, which was also a failure. No one to guide me, too much social pressure… I still lasted a week.
It was finally at the age of 22 that I became vegetarian. After reducing my meat consumption as much as possible, talking about it a lot with a vegan friend and reading up on the subject, I took the plunge.
A year later, here is my assessment through the questions I was asked the most.

“Why did you become a vegetarian? »

Followed by a multiple choice of answers “for ecology, animal welfare or health?” “. It is true that these three reasons are generally given for no longer consuming meat or fish. For my part, it was the first two that motivated my decision. We now know that producing a steak requires phenomenal quantities of natural resources. Not to mention the pollution of the air and groundwater that this causes. In comparison, growing plants uses much less water and has a lower impact on the environment. As for the conditions of animal breeding, I will not dwell on it. We all know what's going on there.
These are my personal motivations, but there may be others, such as not liking the taste of meat – which was not my case, I loved meat and never said no to one beef bourguignon – or for financial reasons.

“Do you eat eggs/shellfish/cheese?” »

I often get asked if I eat this or that food. In general, there are still many people who have difficulty navigating different diets. As a vegetarian, I do not consume animal flesh, nor products that have required its death such as gelatin, meat stocks, fish stock and eggs. However, I continue to cook with eggs, dairy products and honey. This is the difference with the vegan diet, which excludes all animal products. Veganism consists, for its part, of not consuming any food of animal origin, but also all products resulting from their exploitation, both in clothing and in cosmetics. More than a way of eating, it is a true way of life. Besides, although I am not vegan, I do not buy leather or fur clothing and shoes.

“Isn't it difficult to find recipe ideas without meat or fish? »

For some, the fear of not knowing what to cook is an obstacle to vegetarianism. When you eat the same way for 10, 15, 30 years, it is difficult to change your habits. I asked myself this question myself. Then I decided to take the problem in the opposite direction: what recipes can I make with vegetables, legumes, starchy foods, eggs, dairy products, etc.? Inspiration comes more quickly when you think about what you can do, not the other way around. Especially since some recipes are already vegetarian, without us realizing it. And when I'm lacking ideas, the Internet is a veritable gold mine for inspiration.
Among my favorite recipes, spinach lasagna, vegetable couscous, and vegetarian shepherd's pie, a specialty that won over my parents.

“In one year, have you ever broken down? »

I'm not going to lie, I have eaten meat and fish on three or four occasions this year. There was this time I was invited to a restaurant with no vegetarian option; or this evening when after a trying day, I broke down and went to a fast food restaurant. Did I feel guilty? A little. Have I considered returning to a flexitarian diet? No. The important thing is not these four days when I ate meat, but the other 361 days when I did not.

“Isn’t there a risk of deficiency in no longer eating meat or fish? »

The famous fear of nutritional deficiencies! Especially regarding proteins. It is true that by eliminating meat and fish, there is a risk of lacking certain vitamins and minerals. To this, I would answer that anyone with an unbalanced diet runs the same risk. And it's very easy to find alternative nutrient sources. Chickpeas, lentils and oilseed butter have become my best friends, because of their richness in protein. As for the famous vitamin B12, the one that is only found in animal products, I cover my needs by consuming eggs, cheese and milk. As a result, my plate includes a source of protein, vegetables and cereals, almost at every meal. “Almost”, because my diet is not perfect all the time. I enjoy pizza and raclette evenings just as much as before.
Eating a “generally” balanced diet allowed me to avoid deficiencies and certain inconveniences. However, I would advise people wishing to change their diet to inform their doctor. Depending on your state of health, there are sometimes contraindications to eliminating meat and fish.


Over the past twelve months, I've realized that changing my eating habits has proven to be quite easy. Cooking without meat or fish every day took less effort than I expected. There are so many possibilities for delicious and easy-to-prepare vegetarian recipes that it's impossible to get bored. Financially, I also had good surprises, since legumes and cereals are very economical. On the other hand, substitutes such as plant-based mince and steaks quickly add to the bill. I therefore consume them in moderation, especially since they are ultra-processed foods.

I also discovered that people are curious and seek to understand my approach. Some are much less benevolent. I've had my share of “And the plants, don't you think they suffer too?” “, or “But finally, Man has been hunting since prehistoric times! “. What if we stopped looking at other people's plates? In these moments, we realize that we cannot debate everything with everyone. As on many other subjects, including feminism or politics, sometimes you have to know how to retreat. For the peace of households and family meals, I prefer to change the subject, or firmly close the debate.
Aside from the plate, becoming vegetarian hasn't had a big impact on my life. I still go to restaurants very often, entertain guests, and do as much sport as before, four times a week. I just feel more aligned with my values.

Vegetarianism is, in my opinion, the victim of many clichés. How many times have I been told that I must be bored without meat, that it was complicated to do without it, or that there were risks for my health.
This year has, fortunately, proven to me quite the opposite: you can be vegetarian, have fun with your diet and be in great shape.

* Study “Vegetarians and flexitarians in France in 2020”, FranceAgriMer

Similar Posts