Sunday, February 1, 2009

Can you be a vegetarian or vegan if you don't like vegetables?

I can go in on my blog site and look at keywords people are using to search with when they find my blog (whether they're actually looking for me or not), and it gives me ideas sometimes on what I can write about. One particular keyword search I saw recently asked something to the effect of, "Can you be vegan if you don't like vegetables?"

Yes, you probably can be, but here's the thing; you'll have to eat the vegetables anyway, because you can't be a HEALTHY vegan and not eat vegetables. (Really, though, you can't be a healthy omnivore, either, and not eat vegetables.)

Now, I realize people really, truly do have aversions to particular foods for what are probably valid health reasons. For example, I really, truly can't stomach meat. It makes me ill to both smell it and to try to digest it. My particular physiological makeup not only does just fine without meat, but it does better without it than it does with it.

Can the same be true of vegetables? Maybe for a specific vegetable, but what I'd ask the person who doesn't like vegetables in general is whether or not he or she has really tried to eat them; I ate meat, for example, for 18 years before I became a vegetarian, and during that whole time I ate meat, I didn't quite feel right but I thought you had to eat meat to be healthy. Once I removed the meat from my diet, presto. I instantly felt better.

Age has something to do with it

One of the reasons vegetables can taste bitter to younger people especially is because as we get older, tastebuds develop and get more mature so that you begin to like flavors you didn't previously; for example, a lot of vegetables have both bitter and "astringent" flavors to them that often take a bit of tastebud maturity to really begin to like. So if you're a young person and you don't like vegetables, wait a bit. As you get older, it's likely that you will like at least some vegetables, and you should always give things another try every few years to see if your taste buds have changed, assuming you're not actually allergic to them. (I love most vegetables, but two I still can't stomach despite trying to get used to them are brussels sprouts and rutabaga; I do give them a taste every couple of years, though.)

Lots of choice, so lots of things to experiment with when it comes to vegetables

With meat, you've only got what are probably four main choices of meat (poultry, fish, beef, and pork). So if you don't like meat, you're pretty much out of luck when it comes to choices. With vegetables, though, you've got lots and lots of different choices; if you don't like one type of vegetable, you've still got lots of choices to try. Chances are, you'll find at least five or six vegetables you really do like if you give it an honest shot. You can put those in your diet first, and slowly expand out from there as your palate gets used to the taste of vegetables.

Masking the flavor healthfully

If you really can't stand the taste of vegetables at least at first, there is a way to mask the flavor healthfully (no butter or excess salt). Put just a drop or two of stevia in them to give them a bit of a sweet flavor that's healthy. Not a lot, just a drop or two, then mix very thoroughly (stevia is VERY sweet when undiluted). It will give you time to adjust to the taste so that you can stop using it once you've learned to appreciate the taste of vegetables. (And of course, you can always make sure you get a couple of servings of fresh fruit a day right off the bat even if you don't like vegetables at first.)

If a vegetable dislike sticks with you

If a particular vegetable you're trying still doesn't taste good to you after you've given it a fair try (assuming you don't already know you're allergic to it and therefore shouldn't try it at all), I honestly do think your body's trying to tell you something and that you shouldn't have it. I think our bodies are smarter than we are about a lot of things and really do know when something isn't good for us if we listen to them. That said, though, there are still a lot of choices available to you that you should try even if you find you don't like a particular kind of vegetable. Happy eating!

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