On 1 January, I started living as a vegetarian for no reason other than to see what it was all about. On 1 April, the experiment ended officially.
Then again, it didn't really end.
At the start of this, it was very difficult to not have meat every day. I was used to eating chicken or turkey with my dinner every day. I had to be creative in my meal prep. Extra creative because my husband is the furthest thing from a vegetarian. So I had to create meals that we both could and would still eat. The first couple of weeks were a lot of trial and error. My husband isn't a big fan of vegetables. I had to prep meals that I could take on my trips.
However, as time wore on, I became used to the lifestyle change and welcomed it. Meal times stopped being sources of stress for me. I enjoyed the change in my energy and overall physical feeling. I discovered new ways to prepare familiar ingredients and added more variety to my diet. Things like tofu, lentils, and quinoa became my staples. I hadn't really eaten much of those foods before. I learned to appreciate mushrooms more. I made it a point to not replace meat with more carbs (like pasta).
I did slip up a few times. Maybe three times total. One time was intentional - those bangers and mash were pretty freaking awesome. The other times were accidental - just because French Onion soup doesn't have bits of meat floating around in it doesn't mean that it's not made with beef broth, Jade. Oops. ?
The end of my vegetarian experiment came just after a very busy couple of weeks for me. And it took me by surprise. I was all, "Oh! It's 1 April! I can eat meat now." And you know what? I didn't want to eat meat.
Even today, I don't get thrilled about eating meat. My husband and I went out with my sister and her boyfriend to a great local burger joint. And I ordered a falafel burger. Because I didn't really want anything else. And that falafel burger was DELICIOUS.
I've had meat a few times since 1 April. And each time was nothing special. I didn't really miss it. I might still have it occasionally, but I always find myself looking at vegetarian options on restaurant menus and cooking vegetarian meals at home. I really enjoy being a vegetarian. :)
On Being a Vegetarian
What I Liked:
- Crispy tofu - I'll admit, I wasn't that big a fan of tofu before beginning this vegetarian lifestyle. But I learned how to make it crispy and OH MY GOODNESS. So good. I've substituted crispy tofu for meat in most of my usual recipes.
- Quinoa, lentils, and beans - Wasn't a fan of any of these before, but now that I've learned how to cook them to my liking. There's a delicious Mexican-style quinoa bowl that I've made a couple of times that is simply amazing. You can find it here. I appreciate the heartiness that beans add to a dish, especially during the winter months.
- Feeling light - A few of my vegetarian friends had said that they never really felt weighed down by their meals. I've come to find that this is true for me too...unless I eat three slices of pizza. But 99% of the time, I don't get the dreaded food coma that previously plagued me.
- The challenge of being creative with food - it's not that hard to live a vegetarian lifestyle these days; supermarkets and restaurants usually do a good job of catering to alternative diets. There have been a few times when I've had to pull something crazy together out of my pantry because I forgot to go shopping. Or I've learned a few basic recipes and decided to put my own twist on them. I've discovered new flavours and new methods of preparation. Homemade falafel? Yes please all the time yes.
What I Didn't Like:
- Being the odd one out: There were plenty of occasions when I was the only person who didn't eat meat. And special accommodations had to be made. I hate that, to be honest. I tell people that they don't have to do anything special for me and that I can figure out things on my own. I don't like being a burden.
- Crappy options - There were a few restaurants I went to that had terrible options for vegetarians. There's a particular Mexican restaurant that my sister and her boyfriend like. So, we went with them twice. Both times, the food that I got was subpar. Apparently, all of the meat dishes were great. Oh well.
So, here's to living a mostly vegetarian lifestyle with the possibility of going full veggie later on,