What I learned from being a vegetarian

As many of you know, I decided to give to give up meat for lent this year. I was technically a pescetarian –I ate fish because it’s a much learner, healthier form of protein, but no red meat, poultry, pork, etc. Let me tell you, it wasn’t always easy. I have no intention of becoming a vegetarian permanently, but I was eager to try doing this for lent because A) I wanted to see if I could do it and B) I wanted to test is out as a diet to see if life as a vegetarian really was healthier.

Aside from the obvious choices (like pasta and salad), these became some of my favorite go-to foods. The Boca Patties were great for meals on-the-go. I also relied on eggs, tuna and nuts to give myself protein since I wasn't getting it from meat.

Here’s what I learned…

  1. Eating out isn’t easy. By far, I had the most difficult time being a vegetarian when I was out to lunch and dinner. I live in a metropolitan city where there are a lot of restaurant options, but when going to popular chain restaurants you’re choices are extremely limited. Usually a boring side salad and French fries were the only options. No thanks.
  2. Meat substitutes aren’t so bad. Trust me – no one was more hesitant than me to try meatless chicken patties and meatless ground beef, but I was impressed! While the flavor/texture isn’t always exactly the same, they were great options and helped with some of my cravings.
  3. Zucchini is your best friend. I don’t know what it is about zucchini, but it’s great to add to pretty much anything because it adds moisture, vitamins and substance. Even if you don’t like the flavor of zucchini, shredding it adds almost zero flavor, but a lot of nutrients. Trust me! Next time you’re making tacos, add it to your ground beef (or ground beef substitute), add it to almost any casserole even add it to meals with meat (like this recipe for turkey meatloaf) and you’ll be impressed.
  4. You can’t replace meat with carbs. Another tricky element to being a vegetarian. When I go to a restaurant and can’t have meat, what do I look for – pasta (which at most restaurants is NEVER healthy), bread, French fries, etc. Yikes. Sounds dangerous, no? So controlling my love of carbohydrates was most difficult.
  5. It’ll take a few weeks, but you will lose weight. Yay! Mission accomplished – I actually did lose some weight. About 3 weeks after not eating meat, I started to noticed that I’d shed a few pounds. Now will I be able to keep it off? We shall see…
  6. By eating less meat, you reduce your carbon footprint. Yep, it’s true.

Let me make this clear, I don’t think that eating meat is necessarily unhealthy. It’s all about how often you eat it, and how it’s prepared. While I do look forward to having a hamburger every once in a while, my meat intake will be lowered significantly and whenever I can substitute meat with veggies, I will. And when I have major events coming up that I want to be looking fresh and healthy for (like, umm…my wedding!) I’ll be going meatless.

So, will you ever go vegetarian?




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