The Social Vegetarian

By Owen Jones

Lifestyle changes are the hardest ones to make and one of the biggest lifestyle alterations that anyone can attempt voluntarily is to become a vegetarian. Often individuals find it more comfortable to become part of a support group whilst making lifestyle alterations; think of Alcoholics Anonymous, Weight Watchers or giving up smoking. Joining a support group can help the beginner vegetarian too.

The advantages of being a member of such a support group are manifold, but some of them are encouragement, advice and friendship. You might not require the friendship, but you might like to socialize with other vegetarians so that you can see how they cope with eating out and basically simply mixing into a society designed by and for meat-eaters.

However, whether you intend giving up your old friends or not, you may find yourself moving away from them after a time quite naturally. Remember the old expression: 'Birds of a feather flock together'? This is quite standard.

You will have concerns substituting something else for meat; you will be worried that your diet is lacking in some mineral; you will start asking yourself which restaurants serve truly vegetarian food and lots more.

Your newly discovered support group friends will be a immense source of encouragement and advice in this sphere. You might not like the concept of a 'vegetarian support group', yet you could just as easily join a vegetarian dining club or vegetarian cookery class, the impact will be the same - you will learn and you will create new friends.

If you have difficulty locating such a group by the normal methods of your local Yellow Pages and an Internet search, try going to the local community centre, where there may be yoga classes - a few of the attendees will be vegetarians that you can ask. Or go to you local health food shop and ask there Likewise you could ask at a martial arts club or a Hindu Indian restaurant. If all else fails, you could begin your own club.

If you organize your own club, find a supportive bar or restaurant that will prepare your meal suggestions for that night at a reasonable price. After a time, I am sure you could build up a lovely little club of twenty individuals and the landlord might let you have your own room to dine in once a month like the Masons.

If you think that this is too much in the early days, you could just set up a blog. A blog is an interactive web site, where you and others can post relevant information. If you keep the name of the blog relevant to your town and vegetarianism, you should find that other people looking as you once did will find you, whereas you discovered no one. Once you have built up a group of local, on line vegetarian sympathizers, you could suggest meeting once a month in the flesh and take the dining notion from there. An advertisement in the local paper would help as well.

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