This is my long-time friend, Michael Lyons.
He is a vegetarian. In the spirit of investigating the veggie way of life, and at the two-month mark for my own vegetarian experiment, I decided to ask him a few questions about his diet and why he decided long ago to give up eating animals.
1. When did you become a vegetarian?
I became a full vegetarian in Grade 10. I think I was about 16. I didn't really eat meat before, but then I sort of made a decision at that point.
2. Why did you decide to stop eating animals?
Because it was gross, first off, and also I didn't want to kill anything. I didn't like the idea of killing things.
3. Did you ease into this diet or did you quit turkey... "cold turkey"?
I guess a bit of both because I sort of fell off of it beforehand, and then I just decided at one point that this was how it was going to be. So there was a moment of a decision but there was also sort of a lead up to it as well.
4. Did you find it hard to change your diet, especially living with your family, who are not vegetarian themselves?
No, not exactly. My family was very cool and they weren't bothered by it. They were very accommodating; and by "they," I mean my mom, who made all the meals.
5. How annoying is it to hear the question, "Where do you get your protein?"
It's really annoying because I don't know. No, it's not annoying, people are just asking, they're curious or whatever. I'm not bothered by that. The annoying part is that I just never know how to answer that question. I mean, there's beans and tofu and grains and stuff like that, but that's sort of obvious.
6. Do you have to take any supplements, like vitamin B12?
Maybe. I don't. I suspect I maybe am a little bit iron deficient, or whatever, but I do eat a lot of eggs. I'm lacto-ovo vegetarian, so I do get a lot of stuff from that.
7. Do you ever eat fish or seafood?
No, I don't. I don't want to kill things.
8. Do you ever secretly miss meat or feel envious when you see friends eating beef burgers? Do you ever have cravings?
No, because I like veggie burgers so much more. I mean, it's been such a long time (since I've eaten meat) that it's not a problem. I guess the only time that I start to salivate is when it's barbecue and there's all the spices and sauces and things. Those always smell really good.
9. What are some of the staples of your diet?
I try to make lots of scrambles, so I will cook up some vegetables in a frying pan and sauté them, and then add eggs. I try to do that very frequently because that gets me protein and veggies and stuff like that. What else? I don't know. These are the kind of questions I find hard, because I don't know what I eat. I'm such a bachelor that way; I don't really think about food.
10. Do you like to cook?
I do but I'm not good at it. It takes me a very long time and it takes a lot of energy, so I don't do it often.
11. What is your favourite food?
My favourite food is my mom's spanakopita.
12. Is it ever difficult to eat out or at social events, like potlucks?
It's not difficult, in that there's always stuff I can eat. The restaurants always have something, but quite often it's like nothing – it's not a meal. They're not creative there. I can remember when I was at Queen's (University) the cafeteria had the vegetarian station, and there were all these different stations, like the dinner station, and there would be a piece of meat, some vegetables, potatoes, whatever, and at the vegetarian station, more than once, was an ice cream scoop of humous, carrot sticks, celery sticks and tomatoes, and that's it. That was dinner. Unbelievable. So, that wasn't Vancouver, of course; that was a small little university town in Ontario, but my point is, it's easy to not eat meat. It's very easy. It's not always easy to find something proper and nourishing.
13. Do you think other people should become vegetarian?
I would love for animals not to get killed, but I can't make that decision for people. That's not my point in doing this. Because I'm not so morally pure that I can make those kinds of judgments against people.
14. Have you ever had a debate with an omnivore?
Yeah, I suppose. I can't really remember any in particular, but people are always very curious and sometimes I think they can feel a bit defensive because I think when someone's not vegetarian it can put them on the defensive and they can feel judged by me. But I mean, I'm not doing it to debate it with people. I don't care what someone eats. So I can talk about it, but I'm not going to debate it. That's not the point.
15. Have your reasons for being vegetarian changed at all since you were a teenager?
No, I don't think so. I think they're still pretty much the same.
16. Do you plan to be vegetarian for the rest of your life?
17. Would you ever consider going vegan?
I think that might be the ideal, but I don't know that that will ever happen just because I'm not careful enough with (my diet) as I am right now. I would have to put so much energy and thought into diet to do that, and I just don't want to do that right now.
18. Do you have any tips for people considering becoming vegetarian?
I don't know... I think I'm in need of tips, actually, so if you have any tips, you can pass them along to me! I would say, learn about it; learn about diet and that kind of stuff, but I haven't learned about it, so I can't offer anything. I think the whole actual diet aside, I would say don't be righteous about it. You know, that's your decision, which is great if that's the decision you want to make, but it doesn't give you any moral high ground.
19. What's the worst part of being vegetarian?
Having to think about food. I'm not bothered by food, it doesn't excite me, so I don't like to have to sit there and, like, literally count beans to make sure I've got enough whatever it is that I'm supposed to get. I think that's the worst part – having to monitor my diet and having to think about it in a way that other people don't have to think about it.
20. What's the best part of being vegetarian?
The best part is vegetables. Vegetables are great. And if feels, for me, like the right thing to do. It suits me and how I feel about the world, and I couldn't do it otherwise. I just couldn't eat meat. It wouldn't be me.