The New Vegetarians: Promoting Health and Protecting Life

By Paul R. Amato; Sonia A. Partridge | Go to book overview

Chapter 3
The Transition to Vegetarianism

The transition to vegetarianism—during which old food habits and tastes are replaced by new vegetarian ways of eating—is a critical period. For some, the change is simple and painless. But for others it constitutes a mini-crisis. In this chapter, we explore how people go about making the transition from omnivore to herbivore. Trying to describe how people "arrive" at vegetarianism, however, is like photographing a moving object, for many people continue to change their diets, attitudes, and lifestyles long after they banish meat from their kitchens. Accordingly, it is necessary to consider not only where vegetarians come from, but where they are headed.


INITIAL INFLUENCES

Long-term vegetarians think it is normal to be vegetarian. Helen, a clinical psychologist and vegetarian for nine years, commented, "It is hard for me to remember that people still eat meat. I'm shocked when I go out with people and they order and eat it." However, most of the people we spoke with were once die-hard meat-eaters who could think of nothing better than sinking their teeth into a blood-red steak. What happened to change their minds in such a radical manner?

Exposure to the idea of vegetarianism comes about in many ways. For our respondents, these early influences fall into five broad categories. Forty percent mention other people as having had the major impact on their decisions. This is followed by

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