Transition to Vegetarian Life
In recent years, all over the world and recently in Greece Vegetarianism and Veganism gain popularity. Lots of small and big, modern and traditional restaurants, coffee shops are beginning to grow, daily. In Greece Vegetarianism and Veganism are now a way of life, and more and more Greeks are making this transition. It is worth mentioning that with regard to England, Germany and America, Greece is not yet “developed”. So let us hope to bend the rates of these countries! Pretty optimistic?? I hope not.
Having discussed with many locals and tourists, I can say that 80% face difficulties in transition and to remain faithful to Vegetarianism / Veganism, especially tourists.
As a result of the various complaints, I receive from foreigners as well as the total ignorance of the Greek omnivores about what we eat and how “crazy” it is to be a Vegetarian/Vegan, I decided to start a new series on the blog. Interviews Ex Meat Eaters who became Vegetarians or Vegans. I Interview them to discover how difficult is to be a Vegetarian / Vegan in today’s society where everything is surrounded by animal products.
Is it really hard to be a Vegetarian / Vegan? Do we eat only lettuce? Do we put our health at risk? Is it just a fashion? Are we getting protein and all the necessary vitamins or are we in danger of getting sick because of lack? And much more…
Our first interview is with Nektarios living in Athens.
Let’s find out, how easy is to be a Vegetarian in Greece.
Hello Nektarie, welcome to our first Interview! Are you Vegetarian or Vegan? Please describe us your nutritious habits.
I am Vegetarian. I am thinking to transition in Veganism but I am not in a hurry, I want to make it the correct way. Regarding my nutritious habits, I usually eat way too may legumes, vegetables, pasta, peanut butter, wheat and drink plant-based milk.
How long are you Vegetarian?
Describe your nutritional habits BEFORE your transition to Vegetarianism? Would you ever return to your old habits?
I was not particularly a friend of the meat, I confess. However, I consumed it. Because of my transition to Vegetarianism I have cut the meat, I eat in the same way as before, but without meat and very little cheese. Definitely, I would not ever return back to my old habits.
Why did you decide this change? Because of health, ideology or both?
Clearly due to ideology. I had some stimulus in the past about the abuse/exploitation/killing of animals, but I guess like most people just felt sorry for them and forget about it up to my next meal.
How long did you get the transition and what difficulties did you encounter? How did it happen?
It took me literally one day. I just decided it and since then, I have not looked back. Because of my work, I got involved in a project that was related to vegetarianism/veganism and that was the time to take that road. I did not encounter any difficulty.
Did you make the transition yourself or with the help of an expert? Are you aware if Doctors support this diet?
By myself. But I am planning to visit a nutritionist. Just to confirm that I’m doing it, in the correct way. Regarding doctors, I have heard some weird things. I am sure that in the event that you are lacking something from your health, your doctor will probably give you a phrase of the style “eat meat”. Personally, with my doctor, I did not have any problem.
Is it Difficult to Be a Vegetarian / Vegan in Greece? Aren’t any difficulties in feasts and family gathering?
It is quite difficult to say. First of all, with us the vegetarians, the situation is lighter, but if you are vegan, for example, your job requires you to be on the road for several hours, or you will your own food or you will “die” of hunger. Food options outside are minimal. Regarding with family or friends, I made it quite clear that this is my choice and any mocking is not welcome. So, yes, if we exclude the first time, it is a well-established situation without problems.
Is it easy to find all the ingredients you need to follow this lifestyle?
This is a great question. For the inhabitants of urban cities is really easy, where the abundance is plenty. For residents of provinces and especially small villages, despite the fact they have the infrastructure to cultivate a respected part of their own vegetables, things such as the almond milk is not easy to be found.
Do you think there are enough shops that offer Veggie / Vegan ingredients? If so what do you think about their prices and their quality?
I do not have extensive experience to answer this question.
Is it easy to be a Vegetarian / Vegan in Greece?
I had the opportunity to visit several European cities and it is actually much easier to be vegetarian/vegan there, than in Greece. I guess it’s more widespread as a culture, so there is more demand.
Does it take a lot of money for being a vegetarian/vegan? Have your expenses risen or decreased?
As a vegetarian, I have not experienced this. Okay, cow’s milk costs 1.30 euros while non-animal milk 2.90, where we have to do with an increase of> 100%. However, this is only a non-indicative case.
What was the confrontation you accepted because of your change to Vegetarianism? Does your family support the diet you follow?
I received a few rude comments. In addition, there are some people who have experienced bad bullying. I suppose this is also part of the general problem faced by the person who decides to be cut off from the norm. Among the 10 people where the 9 will make the choice, the one who will make the B choice is prone to censorship. Regarding my family, Yes. Although “support” would not be the word I would choose, but “tolerance”.
What differences have you noticed in your health, appearance and psyche in this way of life?
I have not noticed any particular difference, to be honest. In my analogues with people, I will not argue that vegetarianism can make you a superman. I found quite a big difference from the moment I decided to join the gym in my everyday life.
Describe a usual day as Vegetarian.
Breakfast: A good slice of black bread with peanut butter. Lunch: Baked salad or potatoes or spaghetti or mushrooms or pulses or combinations of the above or something else. Evening: 1-2 ounces of oat in non-animal milk.
How do you replenish the protein you do not get from animal feeds and what’s your favourite recipe?
Natural butter mainly. And broccoli. Regarding my favourite recipe, my girlfriend makes a vegetarian burger that makes me tear! I can not analyze it, I do not remember exactly what she puts on the burger.
What is your opinion about the quality of Vegetarian restaurants in Greece?
I have just gone and obviously, it is not advisable to speak nominally but one was really awful. We went with two non-vegetarian pals and we made them make fun of us all night! I look forward to finding out more.
Would you recommend someone to become a Vegetarian and why? What advice would you give to someone who wants to start Vegetarian?
No, not at all. At the beginning of my vegetarian “career”, I was in awe, but I quickly quit the effort. It is too ludicrous nowadays to get out of the nest of his beliefs and accept – let alone try so pervasive, especially in their diet. Also, if we exclude one or two non-vegetarian people who have given me a delightful debate over the issue, I am bored to hear the same foolish counter-arguments. My advice is: I would expose to him certain facts that, as long as he would satisfy his conscious need to stop feeding on animals, he equally made a real difference in the world. Of course, there are other ways to see it, such as the political look of human exploitation of the animal. But I keep this in my queer for the person who will have the ear for this.
Which is the easiest and most difficult part?
The hardest thing is to live in a small village. It is also difficult to learn new recipes. That is, for an average person who cooks, I do not think its difficult, but for me, who admittedly never developed the cooking skills, it seems quite difficult.
Vegetarians/Vegans have often been accused of their fanaticism about the subject. Do you think it is true?
With my hand on my heart, I think yes!. Although I sometimes find it a repellent, I understand it at the end of the day. It’s their truth. And sociologically if you approach it, people sharing the same truth tend to plough into communities and propagate their truth in ways that are often annoying to their recipients.
What would be the ideal way for you to attract someone to Vegetarianism?
Surprisingly, I think the ideal way would be the most disgusting to me. There are two poles on which this adherence can develop: either through equality or through personal benefits.
And I explain Equality: You can explain to one the equality of life with animals, our equal rights in life. The benefits to the environment.
Personal benefits: Prove that it will reduce the risk of getting bowel cancer, for example. Due to the self-centered tendency that characterizes our time, the second route is also the safest in the possibility of achieving the goal.
What would be your wish for Vegetarianism / Veganism in Greece? What would you like to become?
I wish that will not be a kind of fashion or some trend. Realistically I would like a high-level festival and a meeting point.
3 Myths and 3 truths about Vegetarianism.
Myths: 1. That we would be in danger of dying from de-vitamins. 2. The fact that it is difficult to fully achieve the turn. 3. That he will turn you into any kind of invincible ironmonger. Truths: 1. It’s hard to live long hours on the road. 2. It’s difficult if you live in a village. 3. You CAN make difference to the world.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Great effort! Pinelopi, wish you the best!
Thank you very much Nektarie for taking the time to answer the questions!