The accidental vegetarian: How convenience and curiosity is leading me to a healthier and fuller life

Let me start off by saying that I am not a die-hard vegetarian. As you may have noticed in some of my earlier posts, I am a big believer in all things in moderation. I believe that life is too short not to have a second helping of ham at Christmas, or savor a delicious Italian Beef sandwich when you’re back home in the Midwest–yes, Portillo’s, I think of you often. But I also believe that you need to have balance in your life, and this is what led me to becoming mostly vegetarian.

Vegetarian cuisine

One day I was at the grocery store thinking about what I wanted to make for the week. Mentally I ran through my go-to list of winter recipes like sausage, pasta, and peppers in a marinara sauce, or ground beef chili, or a “light” chicken/pasta dish with some other kind of sauce. I felt heavy just thinking about it! I was curious…

“Could I make a healthy and hearty meal without feeling lousy afterwards?”

Up to the challenge I decided just to wing it. I knew what foods make good meat replacements, but I didn’t have any recipe in mind. I just picked things that sounded good together like lentils, peppers, beans, and a curry sauce. All together my groceries were much less than they were when I had opted to include meat. Plus I didn’t have to engage in the moral debate of Cage-Free, Free Range chicken, versus saving a few bucks by getting the “regular” chicken. I was sparing all the chickens!

The meal itself was much faster to make, too. I didn’t have to worry about making sure the meat was cooked through or that I had washed my hands thoroughly enough. With vegetarian cuisine you can just rinse and dump it in a pot. Even I can do that. Without all of that meat stress I was actually enjoying the cooking process!

Afterwards I felt full, satisfied, and way better than I was used to feeling after a meat/pasta dish. I wasn’t tired or lethargic. I was actually able to get a post-dinner workout in which up until this point was a summer-only thing. After that night I was hooked.

I started experimenting with other vegetarian options like quinoa, eggplant, and beans. It was interesting, as I worked my way out of the meat market I was forcing myself to think more creatively and intentionally about the foods I was putting into my body. I got lazy when I was a mostly-meat eater. This experience was challenging me in a fun and engaging way.

Pros of a (mostly) vegetarian diet:

  • Forces you to think creatively
  • Cheaper groceries
  • Cruelty-Free
  • Less stressful cooking experience
  • Feel fuller longer
  • Have more energy later

These days I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve eaten meat in the last month, and I honestly don’t even miss it. Occasionally I’ll give into a craving for a burger or ham sandwich, but I have noticed that those cravings have become fewer and farther between. Maybe one day I’ll be able to call myself a full-fledged vegetarian, but for now I’ll settle for being mostly-vegetarian.

Has your taste for meat changed over time? What’s your favorite go-to meatless meal?

8 Comments

  1. I used to cook the traditional meat/potato/vegetable meals. Breakfast on the weekends included bacon/sausage. But, I recently switched to being a part-time vegetarian, eating meat about once a week (and I only eat bacon on Christmas morning!) After watching the documentary “Forks Over Knives” I felt a change was in order! I’m still experimenting with vegetarian recipes and as long as I put in things I like I’m pretty satisfied!

  2. Hey Steph, Great post!! I’m with you in that I’m not vegan by any stretch but my wife and I have been eating a lot more vegetarian than anything else lately and we both feel wayyyyy better! Now take it to the next step and start thinking about ‘growin’ your own food’. We took a gardening course at a local university a few years back and we’ve cut our grocery bill even further. That said, it’s not cheap to grow a garden so I’m not sure we’re really money ahead but I do know we’re eating a lot better.

    Nice to have you back blogging…sorry ’bout Carm!

    L

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