Hey friends! Happy Wednesday. I thought I’d pop in today to share how my journey into the veggie life has been treating me. As many of you may know, I started cutting out meat a couple months ago and have also cut back a lot on dairy as well. Turns out, whenever you start passing up bacon, people have a lot of questions for you! I thought you guys might be interested in how things are going and what my thoughts are so far. This is kind of a lengthy post, but it’s been on my mind so I want to be thorough. Here are some of the main questions I’ve gotten in the past couple months!
Why did you decide to (mostly) give up meat?
Lots of reasons, actually. My initial reason was to help the environment. As someone who believes in science, I finally decided to start listening to all the studies that outlined the horrible effects the meat/dairy industries have on the planet and the positive effects of cutting back on meat. Turns out, there are a lot of them! I wanted to do my part and realized that even going meatless one or two days a week can make a huge impact. Once I was on board, I realized the ethical and health reasons were all just as important and increased my interest in learning more.
While vegetarianism/veganism is on the rise in the US, there are even more people that are reducing their meat consumption, rather than cutting it out all together. I figure any effort in that direction is positive, so I’m not all that interested in being strict with myself. If I decide to have meat or dairy at a meal, I’m going to do it. If cutting myself slack means I can sustain my efforts for a longer time, so be it! A lot of people are doing their own versions of this, whether it’s eating vegan before 6 PM or only a couple times a week. Whatever works for you, right?
But where do you get your protein from?
I’ll be honest, this one is tricky for me! I know there are a million ways to get protein from plant-based foods and I still have so much to learn in this area. I started tracking my food again so I can see where my protein is mostly coming from. I’ll probably do this for a little while until I get the hang of things, but I still end up with at least 60% of my calories coming from carbs, though, so I’m struggling a bit. Even things like plant-based protein powders still have a ton of carbs compared to the protein, but maybe I’m just looking at the wrong ones.
I’ve never been worried about carb consumption, so I’m not stressing too much about this one. I tend to function much better when I have carbs at every meal, but I still want to learn more about plant-based protein sources.
How does one eat vegetarian/vegan and not spend hours in the kitchen?
Ah! A question I’m eager to answer. As you know, I do not enjoy cooking. It’s fun for a lot of people, just not for me. When I look up vegan recipes, however, they all seem so complicated! I know that probably sounds ridiculous to a lot of you if you’ve been cooking this way for years, but remember you’re talking to the girl who was happy to throw some frozen chicken tenders on a cookie sheet, heat up some french fries, and call it a day. Stouffer’s lasagna? The best! All of those easy, convenient meals I used to love are now out of reach and there’s now a lot more prep work involved.
Don’t fear, though! I am nothing if not determined. Part of my journey has included ways to make vegetarian/vegan meals convenient for someone like me (aka lazy). Here’s a peek at Monday’s meals, as an example:
Breakfast- coconut milk yogurt and vegan vanilla granola on top.
Coffee- TGIV (thank God it’s vegan). I usually drink my coffee black, but I included a splash of some pumpkin spice almond creamer this time.
Snack- Roasted chickpeas.
Lunch- Sweet Earth vegan burrito from the freezer section. I’m really loving the Sweet Earth brand and they have a ton of them at Target! If you’re like me, you’ll need a side or extra snacks, but I still recommend them. Amy’s is also a go-to of mine.
Dinner- cauliflower rice stir fry with portabellos, onion, bell pepper, and tofu. Since I’m lazy, I used the Green Giant frozen riced cauliflower medley, which saved me so much time. I chopped up the tofu and tossed it with some garlic and soy sauce to sit while I made the rest.
This came together in about 20 minutes! Also, the wine is vegan. I would drink it even if it weren’t.
What have you loved? Hated?
- I feel way less bloated. I wasn’t expecting this, but I’m not surprised. I’ve heard a lot of people notice this when they cut back on dairy.
- Feeling good about the food I eat. It’s a lot harder to eat junk food this way (except apparently Oreos are vegan), so I’m generally eating much healthier.
- I may have lost a couple pounds. I don’t weigh myself, but I feel skinnier. It’s probably a placebo effect, but I’ll take it.
- Cashew cheese!!! OMG I’m obsessed with the stuff. I also really really love nutritional yeast.
- I have an excuse now to eat portabellos with everything. I was obsessed with them before August, but now I can be more obsessed.
- Having to do copious amounts of research any time someone asks me to lunch.
- Tofu. Sorry, I still think it’s one of my least favorite foods. I’ll eat it occasionally, but I don’t really want to make a habit of it. As long as it’s chopped up really small I don’t mind it so much, but large chunks of it gross me out.
- Giving up cheese. Honestly, I don’t plan to give up cheese completely and I still eat it every other day or so. I’ve cut back a ton, but sometimes I just want it. Most store-bought vegan cheeses I’ve tried have made me gag, so this is another area where I need to learn more and experiment a bit.
How’s Riley handling this?
Ahh, my meat-loving, master chef husband! He’s amazing. One of the things I love about Riley and our marriage is that we make a huge effort to make our house a “judgement free” zone. That means he doesn’t judge me for my ways and I don’t judge him for his. He’s been incredibly supportive and is thoughtful about my new diet whenever he cooks dinner. Instead of making a meat sauce for pasta, he puts veggies in the sauce and makes meatballs on the side for him. When I made a big salad the other night, he grilled my portabello when he grilled his steak.
As a side benefit, when we’re both feeling lazy and just want pizza, he’ll bring home a meat-free option and we’ll both have that. He doesn’t seem to mind going meatless a few times a week in order to keep things convenient, so hopefully he’s reaping some benefits as well! I have no plans to push my beliefs on him (judge-free, remember?), but I certainly won’t complain if he cuts back on meat on occasion with me.
In conclusion, I’m happy about the direction I’m headed! I’m not trying to put a label on it, though. You can call me vegetarian if you want, but don’t get pissy if I cave and eat a hamburger. Side note, I tried that last week and got crazy heartburn, so that was fun. We’ll see what the future holds, but in the meantime I’ve loving all the new meals and ingredients I’ve tried and, no matter what happens in the future, I will never give up cashew cheese.
Do you follow a plant-based diet? Pescatarian? Meal-lovers? Whatever-the-hell-you-want-that-day?
Do you and your partner/spouse eat the same kind of food?