I’m one of those people who will try almost anything once. So it should come as no surprise that I am embarking upon the journey of vegetarianism. Let me give you a little background on this journey.
All of my life I have been a meat eater! Burgers, sausage, and bacon were amongst my favorite. Oh, and seafood! (How could I forget my beloved seafood?) This all began January 3, of last year, as I delved deeper into my faith; I came across a fast that changed the way that I looked at food. This fast is called the Daniel Fast. It’s a twenty-one day fast that eliminates the consumption of “choice foods”. So there was no meat, bread, sugars, dairy, processed food, etc. I basically lived a vegetarian lifestyle during those twenty-one days. This meant I had to cook! So I went grocery shopping once, maybe twice, a week. Any sauces for my whole wheat pasta dishes, and salsa/guacamole for my snacks, had to be made from fresh fruits, and vegetables! None of that jar stuff! I began to love fruits and vegetables more during this fast!
After the fast was over, initially, I only went back to eating seafood. Then slowly I returned to eating chicken and turkey products, but still, no beef and pork. I was used to not eating it, and was even sickened by the scent of it! I have not eaten any beef or pork products in over a year! I discovered alternatives such as chicken sausage, and turkey bacon and burgers and those satisfied me. However, my eating chicken withered because I’m one of those people who don’t like to touch raw meat. It’s just nasty! Then it came to a point where if it was on a bone, I did not eat it. Curiosity killed the meat eater in me! I started watching documentaries, reading books, and blogs. I was just over it!
With 2014 quickly approaching, I decided not to make vegetarianism a resolution, but a lifestyle change. As of January 3, 2014, my one year no beef/pork anniversary, I have not eaten any chicken, turkey, or seafood! I do, however still eat dairy and eggs, which is considered a lacto-ovo vegetarian. When cooking/eating, I make minor substitutions, like switching extra virgin olive oil for butter, whole wheat pasta instead of enriched, homemade black bean burgers for beef and turkey burgers, and almond milk for cow's milk. I've also been trying out vegetarian meat, like Morning Star, and Beyond Meat brands. Up next to try are quinoa, dairy-free butter and cheese, and tofu and tempeh. This experience is very exciting! I am still learning as I go, which is what this journey is all about. I'm not saying it’s easy, or that I've mastered it, but I’m saying it is worth it to try something new.
I know, I know humans have been eating meat since the beginning of time. However, have we not evolved as a society that can function and live a healthy life on a plant based diet? I’m not trying to convert you, by any means. This is my experience, and who knows, maybe I’ll go back to eating seafood, and be a pescetarian (a person whose diet includes seafood). Maybe I’ll go back to eating beef, pork, and poultry (I doubt that). What I’m saying is, for now, I’m trying something new, and I love the way that it feels!
Here are a few tips/lessons that I’ve learned along the road, that work for me:
Disclaimer: *I'm no expert, and everything I'm saying is of my own experience.*
- 1. Meal prep is key! If you do not cook or prepare your meals ahead of time, you’re setting yourself up! Get some Tupperware, cook it, store it, and freeze it, whatever! You know your own schedule, and habits best! I like to do mine on Sunday afternoon. Also, if you know you’re going to go out to eat, look at the restaurant’s menu ahead of time! Most menus have vegetarian alternatives.
- Ignore “them”. People are going to critique whatever you do in life, even if it’s for your own good, or for the fun of trying something new. They’ll try to deter you by saying, “You were just eating meat!”, “That’s not healthy!” Don’t worry about what you used to do. Focus on what’s to come out of it.
- Educate yourself! I love documentaries! Netflix has a ton! Check out: Food, Inc, Vegucated, Forks Over Knives, and many more titles!
There are some really informative and helpful people, with tasty recipes that I've come across on Instagram (check out their websites and YouTube channels, also).
- Spice it up! Living a vegetarian lifestyle does not have to mean boring, dry, fiber-filled foods. Google recipes, experiment with different flavors, and even find ways to make your favorite dishes healthier. I just subscribed to the Vegetarian Times magazine, and I can’t wait for my first issue! Check out Pinterest, too!
- Stay healthy! You have to make sure that you're getting all of your vitamins and nutrients! I fill my diet with supplements, and foods that are rich in vitamins, protein, and all that other good stuff!
This is not a concise list of all of the things that I have learned, but it's a starting point. I will continue to post about my experiences with vegetarianism, the recipes and restaurants that I’ve tried, etc. I hope that this helps someone!