some early thoughts about vegetarianism

It’s currently Friday morning (cue that awful Rebecca Black song) and we haven’t consumed any meat since New Year’s Eve.  I know it hasn’t been a week yet, but what’s striking about this part of the challenge so far is how little our lives have changed in terms of eating.  That’s either a good thing or a bad thing (I’ll get to that in a minute).  Yesterday evening we stopped for pizza in KCK after picking up our friend from the airport and chowed down on cheese pizza; the only major change here is that sometimes when we were eating meat, we would order pepperoni.  But only sometimes—often we’d be out with one of our friends who doesn’t eat pork for religious reasons, and we’d share a cheese pizza with him.  We ate our Boca Burgers for dinner on Wednesday night, and while Ryan is totally correct in noting that they don’t taste like burgers at all, they were good enough that we will definitely eat them again, and like I think Ryan mentioned, they do sort of satisfy sandwich-type cravings even if they don’t really satisfy burger cravings.  We’ve had linguini with pesto for dinner two nights; we went to IHOP for breakfast/lunch once and ordered the same type of thing we often order at IHOP, only this time substituting toast for the meat that came with our entrees.  So far, things have been relatively easy.

We have both noticed feeling slightly hungrier since giving up meat.  I’m convinced that this is psychosomatic; we’ve certainly been eating enough food and aren’t starving ourselves or dieting.  We are really committed to doing this the right way—eating balanced meals, fruits and vegetables, finding protein and vitamins in other sources.  I am scouring my vegetarian cookbooks for advice on how to get the nutrition we require, but we’re also not giving up on sweets and carbohydrates either (like I said, this isn’t a diet, and we’re not giving up meat for health reasons).  We’re not interested in making ourselves feel like we’re being deprived or missing out on anything, at least not now, so what we eat looks pretty much like what we used to eat, minus the meat products that we’d consume at least a few times every week but never every day.  To be honest, I haven’t felt that great over the course of the past week, but I doubt it’s due to this change in diet.  It’s been a bad winter for my allergies and my stomach hasn’t felt great since I got sick down in Texas.

The real challenge will come in a week, when I start teaching again.  It’s going to require slightly more meal planning than we’re used to for dinners (we’re on our own for lunches during the week), so we’re making a trip to Trader Joe’s this weekend to stock up on some staples, and I’m working on a document that keeps track of quick and easy meals that we can make during the weekday evenings without a lot of effort.  I’m teaching an overload and adjuncting this semester in addition to working on my dissertation and Ryan teaches full-time and takes evening classes twice a week; we don’t want to rely on eating out any more than we normally would, so we’re going to plan.

A few questions I will tackle here in the future are as follows: 1) Is it a good or a bad thing that this part of the challenge is easier than we might have expected?  What I ultimately mean by this is that maybe going vegetarian is too simple of a task to be a part of a challenge like this, but I’ll elaborate on that at some point. Full disclosure: I expect to get hit with a meat craving one of these days, and I expect that I will handle it less-than-gracefully, so I’m not expecting it to remain this easy.  2) Why aren’t we going vegan instead?  I’ll tell you right now that going vegan is not going to happen, and I’ll talk about it more later.  3) What’s the ethical defense of going vegetarian?  4) Are we committed to a vegetarian lifestyle after this challenge is over?

That’s it for now.  I’ll update soon about some of the other aspects of the project, including choosing charitable organizations to support for the year, searching for volunteer opportunities, and the challenges of recycling.

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12 thoughts on “some early thoughts about vegetarianism

  1. Tim says:

    I would recommend the MorningStar Farms black bean burgers. I think they’re respectably close to tasting like burgers, they just need typical burger-type adornments — cheese, onions, mustard to really get the job done.

  2. Dez says:

    Ok, you gotta go to checkers to the freezer section and buy Local burger’s veggie patties that they sell there. THEY ARE AMAZING! No lie!

  3. Vanessa says:

    I haven’t found a veggie patty that tastes like burger. Of course, since I’m not vegetarian and only eat veggie burgers when I crave veggie burgers (and not as a meat substitute), I don’t look for ones that taste like meat. I prefer Gardenburger over Morningstar and Local Burger over everything (but they’re pricey). I haven’t tried my TJs veggie burgers yet.

    On another note, I’ve used the hamburger substitute crumbles in pasta sauce before and can’t tell the difference between that and hamburger meat. I mix it with beans to up the protein. For vegetairian chili, I just use beans. I don’t like the substitute when it’s more on its own.

    • Vanessa says:

      I forgot your mushroom allergy. Gardenburger’s originals contain the fungus.

    • beethousand says:

      Gardenburger used to make these fake meat riblets that were DOPE. They were so unhealthy and slathered with barbecue sauce but the texture was amazing. I’m on the fence about fake-meat-tasting-like-real-meat. Tofu is just good when it’s prepared well, independent of ethical concerns. I have to pay close attention to ingredient lists – I think I can handle TVP and I know I can eat most seitan-based products unless there’s something funky in them. If anything, this project will help me expand my meat-free horizons.

  4. Anonymous says:

    if you havent already, I would recommend Eating Animals by Jonathan S Foer. He does what I believe to be a decent job of talking about both sides of the meat issue.

  5. Franzi says:

    First of all, I think your year of ethical living is a great idea! Good luck to the two of you, I will be following your blog closely. On being a vegetarian you can always ask Derek ( and me) for recipe idea. As you know the two of us love tofu and you should try out all the different kinds (maybe you will enjoy the smoked variation since it has more of a texture and meat-like flavor). As already mentioned above, beans are always a great source for protein too. And I think it is normal to feel hungry. You actually have to eat just as much or maybe a bit more to feel satisfied, which a lot of people don’t get because they just think you will eat less as a vegetarian. And on a last note: just because being a vegetarian might be easier than you originally thought, I don’t think it’s a bad thing. After all, there are millions of people out there who don’t even try it in the first place. It is still quite the challenge!

    • beethousand says:

      Thanks Franzi! It is so good to have the support of our friends while we take on this endeavor. Let’s trade some recipe ideas soon. I’m glad to hear that it’s normal to feel hungry at first, although I still think a lot of it is just in my head 🙂 You and Derek are such a great inspiration for the vegetarian part of this project!

  6. Molly says:

    Dillon’s has a frozen veggie lasagna that is amazing. Stouffer’s or something. It’s huge so you could prep it and put it in tiny containers for lunches. I like to make a veggie lo mein (chinese noodles boiled w/ chicken bullion–does that count?–with cabbage, onions, carrots and green onions plus soy sauce, ginger, garlic, etc.) and veggie fried rice (fried white rice w/ peas and carrots, soy sauce, garlic, and an egg beaten w/ water, fried and chopped up) that are super easy, super tasty, and make great lunches on the go.
    Also, I gave up beef (just beef, not all meats, and non-organic milk) for about 9 mos or so a few years back because I kept getting sick and couldn’t get over it. In addition to consuming less antibiotics, imagine all the added hormones you’re not getting anymore! It’s probably withdrawl and your body will thank you for it later.

    • beethousand says:

      Ah, veggie lasagna! We’ll look for that at Dillon’s. I think we could make veggie lo mein but use vegetable bouillon, and that sounds awesome. I need to get a new blender so I can start making green smoothies again too. I love all of the support and suggestions we’re getting!


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