Frequently asked questions
Vegetarianism is a healthy choice as long as a wide range of foods is eaten. Chocolate and chips are vegetarian, however, they do not represent a balanced diet. Research comparing a balanced meat diet to a balanced veggie diet found that the vegetarian diet was the healthiest. (The Oxford Vegetarian Study).
Protein is available in all foods apart from refined white sugar and some oils and your protein needs are automatically met by a balanced, varied diet. Meat does provide protein, however it is only one source. Nuts, beans, eggs, soya, textured vegetable protein, Quorn™, and lentils are all excellent sources of protein.
For more information about protein
A lack of iron is one of the most common problems in a typical British diet. It is just as much a nutritional problem for meat eaters as it is for veggies but research shows that veggies are no more prone to iron deficiency than meat eaters! Even those people who do eat meat get 86% of their iron from vegetarian sources. Iron can be found in leafy green vegetables, chick peas, baked beans, tofu, bran flakes, muesli, wholemeal bread, dried fruit and pumpkin seeds as well as loads of other places. If you are worried about getting enough iron, try eating something high in vitamin C (or drinking a glass of orange juice) with a meal containing iron-rich foods because this can triple the amount of iron your body is able to absorb.
For more information about iron
Arguing that an action is natural can be quite problematic. A common argument used by meat-eaters is that because we have canine teeth this is evidence that we have been ‘designed’ to eat meat. Along with sharp claws, all meat-eaters, since they have to kill mainly with their teeth, possess powerful jaws and pointed, elongated, "canine" teeth to pierce tough skin and to spear and tear flesh. They do NOT have flat, back teeth like us which vegetarian animals need for grinding their food. As for our sharp teeth, gorillas are entirely vegetarian – as are almost all primates – and yet have far longer and sharper canine teeth than human beings!
Most people have other people kill their meat for them anyway and would be sickened if they had to do the killing themselves. Instead of eating raw meat as all flesh-eating animals do, humans boil, bake, or fry it and disguise it with all kinds of sauces and spices so that it bears no resemblance to its raw state. If humans excelled in pouncing upon animals, tearing their still-living limbs apart with their teeth, and then feasting on the warm blood, perhaps we’d have to agree that nature provided us with a meat-eating instinct!
Even if some of our ancestors ate meat to survive, we certainly don’t need to do so today.
Pre-packaged foods (ready-meals) are expensive whether they are vegetarian or meat–based. Vegetarian dishes in restaurants tend to be lower priced than most meat dishes, and preparing vegetarian food from scratch at home can be very inexpensive. As is true with cooking non-veggie food, the cost all depends on the ingredients you choose and the quality of the products you buy.
Doesn't cooking vegetarian food take a long time?
Just as in meat-based cooking, there are some veggie dishes that take a long time to prepare and there are others that are super-quick. It all depends on what you are in the mood for and how much time you have on your hands. Try our easy Cheesy Pasta Bake recipe.
What would happen to all the farmers?
Vegetarians need farmers too. Who do you think we get our vegetables from? There will still be plenty of jobs for farmers. If everyone in the world went veggie, some livestock farmers would move into arable farming while others may move into other food-related industries. Vegetarians are certainly not trying to put farmers out of work but if farmers did become unemployed that is no reason to keep farming animals for food. If it is right to stop it, the employment prospects of those who work in the meat industry are no reason to keep it going. As has been pointed out, if we got rid of all crime, the police would be out of work and if we got rid of all illness, doctors and nurses would be out of work: but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to get rid of crime and illness does it?
If we all went veggie what would happen to the animals?
Let’s be realistic! If we did all go veggie it wouldn’t happen overnight and therefore the number of farmed animals would also reduce gradually. We would certainly not be over-run by wild packs of farmed animals or have to look after ‘spare’ farm animals.
Aren't animals less intelligent and less important than us?
Some people might argue that animals have less intelligence than humans but why should we use this rationale to measure them? Are more intelligent humans more important than less intelligent humans? Pigs have been proven to be smarter than dogs, yet many people will happily eat a pig while shuddering at the idea of eating their pet dog. All animals have the ability to suffer mentally and physically. If we consider ourselves a compassionate human race, we need to reconsider our relationship with all animals, not just the ones we keep in our homes.
Take a look at our Butcher's Cat website.
As the top of the food chain, shouldn’t we be allowed to do what we like with animals?
Top of the food chain?! What do you think would happen if you put a hungry lion and a weapon-less person in the same room…?
If you’re a vegetarian, why are you wearing leather shoes?
First of all, it may be the case that your shoes are not made of leather; they just look like they are. There are lots of vegetarian shoes on the market these days. Secondly, many vegetarians have leather products from their pre-veggie days and have made the choice to continue wearing them rather than have them go to waste. There are also some people who are not comfortable eating meat, yet continue wearing leather. It is a question of where you as an individual choose to draw a line. Of course, if you are not comfortable with an animal dying for your dinner, you probably aren’t comfortable with them dying for your clothes and footwear either.
Don’t fruit and vegetables have feelings and feel pain when they’re picked and eaten?
No! Fruit and vegetables do not have nervous systems that are similar to humans and animals and are therefore unable to feel pain.
Isn't vegetarianism just a fashion?
Some people do change diets as they change fashions. However vegetarianism has been around for literally thousands of years. For example, the Greek philosopher, Plato (427 – 347 BC), and his teacher Socrates (470 – 399 BC) were both vegetarians. As were Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci, George Bernard Shaw, Charlotte Bronte, Gandhi, Tolstoy… but Hitler wasn’t! Vegetarianism is nothing new, and it is not just a fashion! (If lists of famous vegetarians ring your bell then visit The International Vegetarian Union).
Wouldn’t vegetarians eat meat if they were starving on a desert island?
Wow! You’re really getting desperate for an argument now… In the unlikely event that a bunch of vegetarians ended up on a desert island, some would eat meat in this life-and-death situation and others wouldn’t. As with anything, it is up to the individual to make a choice with which they are most comfortable. On a desert island you might also have to run around without many clothes, sleep in a cave, never have a proper wash, brush your teeth with a stick and wipe your bottom with leaves, but that doesn’t mean you would necessarily do those things after you’ve been rescued.
And anyway, wouldn't there have to be a source of edible plants on the island for most of the animals to be living there in the first place? Therefore a vegetarian might just get lucky, be able to cut out the middleman and share the plants and their fruits with the animals.
Don't some religions suggest that it's alright to eat animals?
You will find vegetarians amongst the followers of all the major religions, including Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Judaism and Hinduism. Many religions demand specific practices in the preparation and eating of different foods and these are open to differing interpretations. However, it is possible to observe any of these requirements whilst following a vegetarian diet, without compromising any religious belief.
What's the point of going veggie if everyone else keeps eating meat?
Most people go veggie because they don’t think it’s right or necessary to kill animals for our food. The average vegetarian saves the lives of over fifty land animals and hundreds of fish each year. People also choose to go veggie as it’s more healthy for them and by giving up meat they make less impact on the environment and the planet’s resources.
It’s important for everyone to make their own decisions and no-one should ever feel as though they have to do something, just because everyone else is. And not everyone else is eating meat anyway. Nearly a quarter of the world’s population enjoy a veggie diet! Maybe if other people see how easy and healthy it is to go veggie, they may decide to change their diet too!