Vegetarian for Lent – Update

I’ve had quite a few new experiences since my last post. I’m proud to say that I’ve successfully stayed a strict vegetarian this whole time (no meat, even fish).

Sustainable Vegetarianism
I’ve found that in order to sustain a vegetarianism lifestyle, you have to discover comfort food that meets the vegetarian criteria. If you hate Mexican food, bean burritos are probably not a good food to think you can eat for the rest of your life. Naturally, if you’re only doing the vegetarian experiment for a few weeks (like for Lent), then you don’t have to worry about this as much. You can suffer through a few bean burritos or just avoid them altogether.

I’ve spent the last few weeks implementing this concept. One of the interesting things about this experiment is that my tastes have changed. I remembered HATING cottage cheese as a kid, but the other day I was craving it. I bought some, and now I can’t get enough of it. The same goes for bagels and cream cheese. I honestly can’t think of anything that I enjoy as much in the morning as a cinnamon raison bagel with strawberry cream cheese. (Yes, I know this is weird, but it tastes REALLY good!).

Also, working at a pizza place over the last three years, I’ve come to accept the role of pizza in my life as a staple. Since cheese pizza is vegetarian, I’ve been eating that up, because it’s super convenient (and free!).

One great thing about this vegetarian experiment is that I’ve found that I eat a lot more fruit than I used to. I’ve always loved fruit, but now that my food choices are more limited, I’ve made sure to always have fruit on hand to eat. Fruit definitely is a staple for someone who wants to have a sustainable vegetarian diet.

My Diet
I love breakfast. As I said in my last post, I’ve discovered the joy of eating breakfast again. In the mornings, I usually eat either a bagel with cream cheese, fruit, or eggs. I got an egg cooker, and it’s been fantastic to make poached eggs in.

For lunch, I’m usually at school so my options are a bit limited. I basically only have the choice between Mexican, bagels, or pizza. Of course, I could eat some other small things like croissants, but I don’t think that’s a sustainable choice for lunch. That being said, I love pizza, and I love Mexican food, so I’m happy. Since I eat bagels for breakfast about half the time, I haven’t really been eating them at school. One of my staples from school is a really yummy burrito that has rice, beans and mushrooms.Burrito

Dinner is a bit different than I thought it would be. When I started vegetarianism, I anticipated that I would be forced to cook more foods because my options would be limited. While my options have been limited, I’ve found quick and easy solutions to avoid having to cook. Unfortunately, these options aren’t necessarily good for me.

For instance, I’ve been eating a lot more pizza (as in a couple times a week) because it’s quick, easy, and cheap to pick up a cheese pizza. On the days that I don’t pick up pizza, there’s usually left over pizza in the fridge, and it’s quick and easy to microwave that. Outside of pizza, Applebees has a pretty tasty Veggie Patch Pizza (I get a side of limes and eat it with lime juice).

I would say that I actually make something only once a week on average. When I do, I love it. I’ve made Guacos and spaghetti several times. I haven’t experimented much beyond what I made the first week of going vegetarian.

I made a really tasty vegetarian pizza at work. It had green peppers, red peppers, mushrooms, pineapple, provolone, and mozzarella. Veggie Pizza

I also made spaghetti squash. I LOVE spaghetti squash! It takes about an hour to bake (follow the directions on the squash), but it’s worth it. After you bake the squash, you take a fork and scrape the ‘guts’ of the squash to get naturally stringy “spaghetti”. Just add your favorite spaghetti sauce and any spices that you normally would eat with spaghetti (I add spaghetti seasoning and a bit of garlic to the sauce). Spaghetti Squash

Also, another really tasty vegetarian dish that I discovered is veggie fajita’s from Chilies. It’s basically mushrooms, onions, broccoli, and green peppers, but it tastes fantastic!Veggie Fajitas

My Future With Vegetarianism
I’ve decided that I’m going to quit being vegetarian on Easter day (when Lent ends). I started vegetarianism primarily because of the health benefits associated with vegetarianism, and quite frankly, I’m not seeing any. I’ve actually been eating more junk food since becoming vegetarian than I did when I ate meat. Home-made vegetarian foods is probably what most of the health benefits come from. I’m in a period of my life that I have a whole ton of demands that need my attention all at once, and cooking my own food is just another demand of my time. Because of this, I’ve been eating a lot of junk food. Obviously, because I’m eating junk food, my health hasn’t improved, and so the whole reason that I decided to become vegetarian is pointless.

Another reason that I’ve decided to quit is because of convenience. I live with my brother, and we split the food bill. Often, we share meals, especially since most food is in a bigger portion than for one person. Since Lent started, he has cooked food that has meat in it, and so we haven’t shared meals as much. This hurts him as much as it hurts me, because he isn’t as addicted to cheese pizza as I am. Seriously, it’s become a real inconvenience for both of us. If we’re going to a restaurant that he wants to go to, and I don’t like the one item on the menu that’s vegetarian, I’m not going to enjoy my meal. In turn, he’s probably sick of going to Applebees so I can get my Veggie Patch Pizza.

Also, I don’t know if it’s because I haven’t quite adjusted yet, or if it’s all the junk food that I’ve been eating, but my insides aren’t as calm as I remember when I didn’t eat as many beans. I’m sure that if you were serious about vegetarianism and cooked the majority of your own meals, you probably wouldn’t have this problem.

I would love to have another vegetarianism experiment in the future, when I have time to cook most of my meals. Right now, especially during school, vegetarianism isn’t a good choice for me.

Despite deciding to quit, I am determined to finish my vegetarian trial. I feel as though my will-power has grown tremendously through consistently avoiding the temptation of meat. I want to prove to myself that I can last until Easter.

Other Thoughts On Vegetarianism
I love how vegetarian has done a few things for me. Breakfast food is a much bigger staple in my life, as well as fresh fruit. I’ve also discovered several new meals that I enjoy.

My girlfriend has warned me that if I eat a steak for my first meal, it’s going to make me feel sick. If you decide to try your own vegetarian trial, keep this in mind.

Try the veggie dish next time you go to a restaurant. It’s possible that you discover something new that you absolutely fall in love with. You won’t grow unless you put yourself out there. In finance terms, there is no substantial return (personal growth) if there is no risk.

– Neal


  1. Jamie

    Your girlfriend probably also warned you against Jack-in-the-Box, I hope. I assume that basically any first meat with tons of, well, meat and also tons of grease is not a good way to kick off your return to your previous lifestyle.

  2. Neal

    No she didn’t. Thanks for the tip Jamie!

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