Vegetarian for Lent – Week 1

Ok, I realize it’s not quite a full week, but I think 6 days is a good start to record my initial thoughts and experiences of Vegetarianism.

It’s been quite an experience so far. Many of my expectations have been shattered, while many have been fulfilled. I’m really enjoying this new experience.

A big realization that I’ve had is that finding food to eat that is vegetarian is both really easy, and quite frustrating. Before I took this step, I never really noticed vegetarian choices at the places that I ate at. Now, I’m all about hunting out the vegetarian dishes on the menu. I never realized, but almost every food establishment has vegetarian options. However, it’s quite frustrating sometimes. Often, the menu only had one or two vegetarian options. If I wasn’t in the mood for that particular option, then I was out of luck, unless I wanted to cause trouble and make the people that I’m going to lunch with go somewhere else.

Challenges
There are several challenges that I’ve encountered with vegetarianism. You have to analyze your food choices a lot more. Because there are many fewer vegetarian choices, it’s harder to spot them. For instance, you have to read the fine print on salads, because many have bacon bits, or some other type of meat added. Sometimes it’s not exactly clear if the plate you want will have meat in it. It’s always a good idea to ask to make sure.

Another challenge that I’ve faced is that I’ve not enjoyed some of the dishes. As you would expect when experimenting with any new food, I’ve had some stuff that wasn’t very tasty to me. Normally, this would be fine. You would just go back to eating whatever you were before. You branched out, didn’t like it, and are retreating to the comfort zone. My problem is that I don’t have a vegetarian comfort zone. For the most part, all of the places that I’ve been eating at my comfort zone is food with meat.

Let me give you an example of what I mean. Before my vegetarian experiment, I had a bunch of comfort choices: Mexican had meat filled tacos, burritos, quesadillas; Chinese had all sorts of chicken; American had burgers, country fried steak, mashed potatoes. (And that was the short list) Now, my cumulative list of vegetarian dishes: Bagels, fruit, eggs, bean burritos, cheese quesadillas, salad, and peanut butter. See what I mean? I could go into any given restaurant and be virtually guaranteed that I would find something that I love. Now, it’s a challenge to just find something to eat.

There was a small transition period, where my body got used to eating vegetarian. Because I had done a few short trials of vegetarianism before I started, I already knew what to expect. Between day 2 and day 3, I experienced some gastrointestinal disturbances. I’ll let you fill in the details.

Benefits
Before I took on this challenge, I usually rushed out the door in the morning, either completely skipping breakfast, or slurping down a bowl of cereal. Now that I don’t have many comfort foods, I make sure to eat breakfast every morning, because it may be the only meal that I enjoy that day.

I’ve never really been that fond of breakfast foods, but now that I’m vegetarian, I’ve really grown to love breakfast. I usually eat one of several things: bagel with cream cheese, honey peanut butter toast, and fruit. I can’t get enough of this stuff. Sometimes I start craving these meals while I’m out for the day. Eating breakfast is a great way to start your day, and is really healthy.

An expectation that I had was that I would have intense cravings for meat, and in turn, adjusting to vegetarianism would be extremely tough. I haven’t had any cravings.

I’m really curious to find out if vegetarianism makes me feel healthier. I would have an answer for you, but unfortunately I got sick right before I started. I’ll let you know in my next post.

I’ve felt like my willpower has been tested a lot this week. At the end of these 40 days, I will definitely feel a lot stronger. I feel that my will is a lot stronger already.

Meals
I’m going to skip everything that’s easy and common knowledge. I don’t think you want me to explain how to make bagels with cream cheese. 😛

One of my morning staples is honey peanut butter toast. Basically, I put peanut butter on toast and add some honey. This is super delicious. However, there is a twist: I use homemade honey roasted peanut butter. I use my Blendtec Total Blender, and follow the recipe in my Blendtec book for regular peanut butter. However, instead of using regular roasted peanuts, I use honey roasted peanuts.

Croissants are another big one. If I’m at school and don’t have time / don’t want a full meal, I’ll pick up a croissant. The carbohydrates give me a good boost of energy that lasts for a couple hours.

My mom was visiting from out of town this week, so I ended up eating out a lot, and so I haven’t made any vegetarian dishes except for one. The recipe calls them avocado tacos, but I like to call them guacos. However, I’ve made enough changes to the recipe, that I would go off of what I say, instead of the recipe. Basically, they’re tacos or burritos that are a mix of guacamole, beans, cheese, and salsa. Adding the beans gives the guacos more flavor and fills out the dish. You can get a giant can of beans for really cheap at your grocery store. I think the regular sized can of red beans was around $0.30 or so.

When I went out, I made sure to try new vegetarian dishes. I went to Pei Wei with my mom, and ordered Mongolian with Tofu and Vegetables. I didn’t care much for this dish.

At Einstein Bagels, I had a bagel with spinach, provolone, tomatoes for lunch. It was pretty tasty. 🙂

We also went to a diner, and I got the vegetarian benedict. I didn’t like it very much, but I have a feeling that I wouldn’t like any type of benedict.

At Olive Garden, I had Ravioli di Portobello. It was pretty good.

At Chili’s I had the Guiltless Black Bean Burger. It was super tasty. I found a recipe for it, let me know how it is if you try it.

Over the next week, I’m going to continue to explore new foods, and experience vegetarianism in its fullest.

– Neal

2 Comments


  1. ·

    Looks like you’re doing all right Neal 🙂 Transitions are sometimes fun and often inconvenient but good ones are worth every bit – and a lot more – in time.

  2. Neal
    ·

    Ali,

    Thanks for the comment. I really appreciate your encouragement, and your continued support. 🙂 I feel like every time you comment, you leave a jewel of knowledge that expands on my own thoughts. Thank you for that!

    Isn’t that what personal development is all about – making transitions? Well at least making transitions that are positive. I’ve never thought of it that way. Maybe one of the best skills to have is to be able to transition easily. Set your mind to something and if you’re good at transitioning, you can make it happen easily.

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