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.
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
- 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?