Vegetarian February

The Conversation:

Rebecca: I don’t want to eat meat anymore.

Jeff: Why?

Rebecca: Because I don’t like eating animals. But I’ve been eating meat for too long to just give it up. I want to try being vegetarian for a month.

Jeff: OK, I’ll do it with you to support you. Let’s start in February.

Obviously our conversation went a little more in depth than that but you get the gist of it.

I grew up eating meat. I never really thought about it. My mother made chicken dishes for dinner. I had bacon with my eggs in the morning. I’d order a burger and fries at a diner. And, of course, there was always a Thanksgiving turkey. It was just part of my life-as it is with most people.

But recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about it.

I don’t like eating animals.

Especially after seeing Food, Inc.

I don’t like how animals are treated. I don’t like that animals are killed for food.

I understand that it’s part of everyday life for some people. And I am not going to try to force you to agree with me.

But there is something I can do about it for myself.

I used to think that it wouldn’t matter if I became vegetarian because people are going to continue eating meat regardless. It’s not like when I stop eating meat, everyone else will too. But it makes a difference to me. It matters to me.

I know it’s going to be hard because I like meat. I feel horrible about it and that’s the reason I’m doing this in the first place.  I feel guilty for liking meat. Eating should be an enjoyable experience, not something I should feel guilty for.

SO, starting February 1st, 2010, Jeff and I are going to become vegetarians for an entire month.

I’m actually starting earlier than February. I haven’t eaten any sort of meat since Tuesday (January 12th).

I think Jeff is the sweetest boyfriend in the world for doing this with me. I didn’t even ask him to.

I’m not sure if it’s going to be a permanent thing. It’s not like I’m going to stop feeling bad about eating animals. I’m just not sure that I can give it up completely. I am going to try though.

I’m sure we’ll be trying some interesting vegetarian recipes. I’ll definitely be posting them.

If anybody wants to join in on the challenge for a month,  leave a comment or send me an email: beccarose21@aol.com

Just to make something clear:

I am not doing this for health reasons. I don’t think I’m going to lose weight and I’m not treating this as a diet plan. It’s a moral thing for me.

Questions:

  1. Are you a vegetarian? Have you always been one? Was it hard to become one if  you haven’t always been one?
  2. Any fun recipes to share?
  3. Best ways to get protein in without meat?
  4. Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated!

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32 comments

  1. I am a veg have been for ~20 years – I am a vegan now though. My best suggestion is try tofu a buzzillion different ways. My meat loving husband ONLY eats “my” pudding – lite silken tofu in the food processor with stevia and cocoa and a splash of vanilla!

  2. Yay for going vegetarian for the month! I eat fish still but I stopped eating all other meat a little over a year ago. Since then, I actually haven’t missed it at all! There’s so many “fake” meat products to eat if you’re really craving something. Otherwise I get my protein from beans, tempeh, and tofu.

  3. That’s awesome! It’s good to try these things out first, too, so you get a sense if it’s truly what you want.

    Are you a vegetarian? Have you always been one? Was it hard to become one if you haven’t always been one? Nope, but I eat vegetarian a lot at school because I only eat wild or organic meat and that doesn’t come often.

    Any fun recipes to share? foodmakesfunfuel.com/recipes/vegan-meatloaf/

    Best ways to get protein in without meat? Lentils, greek yogurt, eggs depending on if you consider them vegitarian, tofu, tempeh, Lightlife soy products.

  4. I’ve been thinking I should go vegetarian for a month, too, but I’m worried it will make it hard to eat on the go and stress me out. Hmmm…I’ll have to keep thinking on it. I might just have to join you.

  5. Hi! I became a vegetarian 2 1/2 years ago for the same reasons as you. I found it to be a little difficult at first (LOTS of pasta dishes and salads) but now I love creating new dishes without meat! Some of my favorites are chili (made with tons of beans, tomatoes, peppers, corn, etc,) sweet potato falafels, roasted vegetable kebabs and that’s just to name a few! There are so many blogs out there with awesome advise and recipes. I don’t think I would of succeeded with my vegetarianism without them! Good luck!!

  6. Awesome Rebecca!! I’m so excited for you to take on this challenge. I think you’ll have a lot of fun!

    Lots of tips are running through my mind, but here are two main ones:
    1. Find good “meat replacement” products to help with the transition, and keep in mind there are some great ones out there that are not full of soy and super processed. I LOVEEEE Sunshine Burgers!!! Or you can always make your own!

    2. Try not to rely too heavily on cheese. Newbie vegetarians typically end up eating more cheese, pasta, and junk food, but this will make you feel worse, not better. Instead of focusing on what you CAN’T have, just try to incorporate more of the good stuff into your diet, like veggies and whole grains, and you will find yourself very satisfied!

  7. Okay. I’m not a vegetarian. And I don’t think I’ll be vegetarian, because my thoughts are that we humans need a little bit of meat in our diets. But I think it’s admirable that you will stand up to your beliefs, and act on them. And I’m kind of glad that you’re not jumping head-first into it, but giving it much thought and consideration and doing it the level-headed, unextremist way.
    I can’t wait to view your journey in this, and boy…your man is GREAT to support you like that!!!

  8. yay im so happy and proud! i twittered this. 🙂

    i ‘liked’ meat when i went vegetarian too. but its not about liking something so we don’t give it up. it’s about the fact that the raising of animals for meat is pretty horrible and disgusting (there. i said it. no one freak out.). vegetarians choose to give up this very real, very human pleasure because its the compassionate thing to do, not because we don’t like the taste the meat.

    it will get easier, don’t worry!

    also, dont worry too much about the protein issue. i feel like this is completely overblown. if you eat things like greek yogurt, beans, tofu, etc. you will get more than enough protein. i usually get 60 to 70 grams a day without even trying.

  9. I am so glad Caitlin of HTP linked to this on Twitter. I loved it! You worded everything so perfectly. My fiance and I just recently went vegetarian for a 10 week health challenge. It’s been about two weeks, and we feel so great. Honestly, neither of us see ourselves going back to eating meat. It’s totally transformed the way we think about food, and now we actually put more effort into creating healthier dishes. We eat lots of rice (grain), veggie, and bean (protein) dishes.

    As for recipes, many people suggested Picky Cook, Fat-Free Vegan, and Vegetarian Times when we were looking for some advice. They are all great websites. I also think it’s fun to come up with a list of your favorite meat recipes and then challenge yourself to make a meat-less version. We’re going to be making vegetarian tortilla soup this week! Can’t wait to follow your blog! I’m glad we have another couple to look to as we start this journey. 🙂

    PS. Mark Bittman also has a book out called “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian”. We took it out from the library, but are thinking of buying it. It’s a great resource with nearly 1,000 pages of useful info.

  10. I went Vegetarian again for a month last year for a friend. I felt guilty for eating meat too. I was a veggie for 2 years a long time ago. I mainly did it for sports and it was my way of staying away from junk food and fast food burger…my weakness.

    Good luck with the challenge. I learned it’s very easy to replace meat in your diet. You can make veggie burgers or buy them and experiment with tofu. I eat a Semi-Veg diet right now.

  11. Hey becca, that’s exciting! I’ve been vegetarian about 7 years and I’ve never once looked back, it’s not very hard. Get protein with soy milk, tofu, beans, cheese, and meat replacements.

  12. I was afraid to go cold turkey, pardon the pun, so I have been slowly weanng myself off of most meat. I had a lot to learn about protein sources and options to ensure I wasn’t just eating lots of bread. I feel great andn hope to completely eliminate meat products. I haven’t had red meat in a few years

  13. I’m so glad you posted this. I watched Food Inc.recently as well and its really been weighing on my mind. I don’t think I’m ready right this second to completely make the vegetarian switch (I like to research things a lot before acting).

    I also have a small son to consider.However, I will be making some major changes in our eating habits. I’m going to be blogging more about this very soon, but I was excited to see your post!

  14. Hi Rebecca, This was the exact experiment that made mark and I start a blog! It’s going to be fabulous. I am still a vegetarian and Mark is most of the time. For protein I eat a lot of Greek yogurt and beans like lentils and hummus. Also, try quinoa if you haven’t already. It’s a great protein source and it’s delicious. I think my advice would be that if you are new at this maybe get a book out from the library like veganomicon because there are a lot of hearty “meat-like” meals in there. Good luck!

  15. Good for you! It might seem tough at first, but it gets easier as you go along, trust me. I went vegan for moral reasons 4 years ago and I have not looked back since. I have a few recipes on my blog if you interested, but I also recommend Vegweb.com for tons of vegetarian recipes. Wish you the best!

  16. I’ve been a vegetarian since I was 9 and vegan for the last 3 years. It wasn’t hard to become a vegetarian because I was lucky to have parents who supported me. When I became vegan my now husband was as well so it was an easy transition to make.

    I have a number of vegan recipes on my blog you should check out. Other sites that are great: meatlessmonday.com; veganyumyum.com; blog.fatfreevegan.com; http://101cookbooks.com/

    As for protein you will have no problem getting it- it’s a huge misconception that you need huge amounts of protein you really don’t. As well since you are eating vegetarian not vegan I would assume that you will be eating dairy products which have protein and B12. Other great sources of protein are beans and quinoa.

  17. Hey Rebecca! I’m a vegan so I definitely think going vegetarian is do-able! 🙂 I did it for health reasons, but I too liked (and still occasionally miss) meat and other animal products, specifically things like dairy, salmon, eggs, etc. It’s ok to miss it, just be firm in your standing (moral reasons v. health reasons or combination).

    My favorite protein sources are beans, lentils, quinoa, split peas, brown rice protein powder, etc. I’m allergic to tree nuts so I don’t rely on a lot of nuts and I have a slight soy sensitivity, so I definitely don’t over-do it on soy either.

    That said, other great vegetarian sources of protein are eggs/ egg whites, milk, Greek yogurt, tofu, other protein powders, etc. Greek yogurt particularly packs a hefty protein punch!

    For recipes I naturally have to suggest my blog. 😉 I love getting creative in the kitchen, and since I’m a vegan it’ll obviously all work for you.

    One recipe in particular that’s a favorite of mine and my carnivorous husband is my Three Bean Vegan Chili:

    http://www.soundeats.com/recipes/three-bean-vegan-chili/

    Favorite cookbooks include Veganomicon, Vegan with a Vengenance and eat, drink, and be vegan. 🙂

    Hope that helps!

  18. Hey Rebecca! I absolutely love this! I’m a vegetarian, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I don’t feel like I’m missing anything, and I think you’ll find it’s fairly easy.

    A good line of faux-meats you may want to try, since you enjoy meat, are the Gardein products. They are very meat-like (it’s almost freaky!). Here’s a link: http://gardein.com/

    Also, feel free to check out my blog for any ideas/ways to see how easy it truly easy it is.

    Ahhh! Great decision and good luck!!

  19. eggs, tofu, almond butter, cheese, yogurt, soy protein powders

    Check out Angela’s @ OhSheGlows recipes

    It’s VERY doable. Just a little shifting and bulking up on veggies.

    Enjoy.

  20. # Are you a vegetarian? Have you always been one? Was it hard to become one if you haven’t always been one?

    Yes, I’m a veggie, and I’m transitioning to vegan at the moment. I already don’t drink cow’s milk, eat butter or eggs but I’m trying to give up cheese – the hardest of all mofos! lol.

    I only gave up meat about 6 months ago. It wasn’t actually that hard. I liked chicken and a really good steak, plus obviously hamburgers and stuff. But the more I thought about it, the more I tried to associate the actual animal with the ‘food’ and the less I liked the taste. Like, ok, I am eating ground up cow right now, or this bacon is actually strips of pig. Just upsetting and horrifying, really. PLUS I read Skinny Bitch, and the tales from the slaughterhouse made me cry so hard that I knew I’d be a terrible hypocrite if I ever went back to eating animals.

    I started to realize how selfish I was being. As if a momentary pleasure was enough to justify animals’ suffering – being tortured and raped and murdered – I mean, really. I realized I was very, very selfish.

    PLUS vegetarian food is so freaking good and there are no shortage of fun recipes. My skin cleared up like whoa, I felt lighter. I started eating way more vegetables and in a greater variety – trying things I never thought I would try.

    # Any fun recipes to share?

    Anything at Choosing Raw – http://choosingraw.com but especially her ‘pizza cheese’ which is unbelievable, salads and pates. Gina at Fitnessista http://fitnessista.com makes great foods – breakfast cookies, sweet potato hash, spiralized veggie salads, lots of raw goodies. The homemade baked beans from Eat, Live, Run are the best I’ve ever tasted: http://eatliverun.com/breakfast-recipes/homemade-baked-beans/ – even my bf likes them! Raw, vegan nachos: http://www.rawmazing.com/recipes/sun-dried-tomato-cashew-cheese-spread/ Try anything from Oh She Glows – http://ohsheglows.com – awesome, awesome vegan recipes.

    You can vegetarian-ize any recipe, though. I always do. 🙂

    # Best ways to get protein in without meat?

    Beans, lentils, hemp, nut butters, seeds, tempeh, broccoli… I also use ‘Genuine Health Vegan Proteins’ – 1 scoop mixed with 1 cup vanilla rice milk, after working out. It’s a mixture of hemp, pea, alfalfa and maybe brown rice?

    Most people get too much protein anyway!!

    Good luck:-) I think you are awesome to do this.

  21. I’m not strictly a vegetarian, but I cook vegetarian food (and usually vegan) about 90% of the time (my husband’s a vegetarian and I can’t eat dairy, hence the weird combination!) Congratulations on taking on the challenge!

    I’m with Caitlin on the protein thing–you’ll definitely get enough if you eat a variety of nuts, beans, yogurt, etc. Soymilk is also great for this too.

    As for fun recipes, I cannot recommend the Moosewood cookbooks enough! My favorite is Moosewood New Classics–it has lots of interesting recipes from all around the world as well as great vegetarian versions of comfort foods. I’ve had it for years and make things from it at least once a week.

  22. This is awesome! Good luck!

    I’ve been veg (mostly vegan) for almost 7 years. I know I am contributing positively to the environment, my body, and to the well being of animals. I love it! I think the food is better. 🙂

    Find yummy recipes that have things you love in them. A couple of websites: http://www.veganchef.com, http://www.happyherbivore.com, http://vegandad.blogspot.com/. Get a new cookbook – The Vegetarian Slow Cooker is a great one. If you want to try vegan, La Dolce Vegan is one of my go-to books.

    Set up your plate with 1/2 veggie, 1/4 starch, 1/4 protein. Proteins like beans, hummus, lentils, nut butters, tofu, and even meat substitutes (but don’t forget, these are processed foods and not always the healthiest). Don’t stress too much over proteins. We really don’t need as much as you might think. I’d also suggest almond milk for your cereal (I like unsweetened vanilla).

  23. Hi Rebecca, congrats on going veggie for a month! I think once you start you might not even want to continue eating meat so I bet it will be a great challenge for you! I have been vegetarian for most of my life but I still get the random craving for meat. You know what gets me? Sausages! I live in Boston and walk by sausage carts all of the time and it makes me crave it like no other so I eat fake sausage when I get those random cravings. Although I think there are PLENTY of ways to get protein and eat healthy without fake meats I do suggest trying them whenever you have meat cravings.. my favorite is morningstar farms.

    I see a lot of people suggested you eat greek yogurt which is a HUGE source of protein.. 1 cup usually has around 20 grams. Friendship dairies all natural cottage cheese also has 16 grams per HALF cup. So if you eat one cup of yogurt and one of cottage cheese that’s 50 grams right there! I also sneak beans into most things I eat and I choose to eat eggs which are high in protein as well. My blog is all about healthy vegetarian recipes, mainly for one or two people so feel free to stop by for any ideas. GOOD LUCK!

  24. I’ve been veg for 14 years now, and it’s not as hard as you’d think. For awesome veg recipes (they’re all vegan actually, but you can use regular dairy products) try http://www.vegweb.com Also, if you need motivation to STAY veg, watch Earthlings. It might just make you vegan. It’s online, not hard to find at all. Good luck!! If you have any questions, please email me erica.r.phillips@gmail.com

  25. Read the book Portrait of a Burger as a Young Calf by Peter Lovenheim. I read it years ago and loved it, in part because it’s a well-written piece of journalism set in Upstate NY and because I’m a vegetarian who grew up around cows.

    Correction: I’m a pseudo-vegetarian who never eats red meat and rarely eats chicken.

    Rebecca: as a journalism major living Upstate, I think you’ll enjoy.

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