Recently, I’ve become a vegetarian. The last actual meat I ate was a little more than five weeks ago when I had a turkey burger when my mother-in-law came over for our weekly Sunday dinner.
Since then, I have been meat-free and mostly dairy free as well, although I am unable to resist mozzarella cheese on my homemade vegetarian pizza.
There are lots of reasons for going vegetarian. Mine are for health purposes. I’ve been reading for years now that removing animal products from your diet can not only help prevent illness and give you more energy, but also can actually reverse chronic and potentially fatal diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes and so on.
While I don’t have any life-threatening diseases (that I know of), I can tell you that since eliminating meat from my diet, I definitely have more energy throughout my day, feel healthier overall, and even seem to have a more positive outlook most of the time. While all of these could be psychosomatic, I really don’t think they are. I’m convinced they are related to my diet.
I’ve even started running again. Recent past efforts to return to running have all been cut short by injury or frustration, but now I’m running pain-free, look forward to my runs and am averaging about 15 to 20 miles/week.
I thought I would crave meat — and I probably did the first few days or so — but now the thought of eating meat sort of fills me with dread. Especially after reading about how animals are treated by food production. It’s truly horrible.
Another thing I worried about was that there wouldn’t be enough variety in a vegetarian diet to keep me interested in it. But that certainly hasn’t been the case. My wife and I have been eating a richer mix of foods than ever before. Where in the past we could get stuck in a rut — pasta/Mexican/pizza/grilled chicken/turkey burgers/repeat — in the past five weeks since I’ve started, we haven’t had the same meal twice.
If you would have told me a few years ago that I would be expounding on the benefits of vegetarianism or veganism, I would have called you crazy. In fact, like many people I looked upon vegetarians with derision and a little suspicion. Yet here we are.
I’m working toward veganism and have cut out 95% of dairy from my diet. Milk and eggs are essentially gone and — other than pizza — cheese is pretty much out of my life as well. read a book by wellness expert Kathy Freston in which she describes herself as a “vegan-ist”, or someone who is leaning towards veganism but hasn’t quite made the leap entirely. I think that pretty well sums up my mindset right now.
Here’s a recipe for Edamame and Orzo Salad that I modified (stole) from veghotpot, one of the vegetarian bloggers I admire the most. Edamame is a type of soybean that is similar to peas. You usually can find it in the frozen food section. If you can’t, frozen peas or even lima beans will work just as well.
Edamame and Orzo Salad
For the dressing:
Juice of 1 Lime
Few drops of Toasted Sesame Oil
1 TBS Bragg’s Liquid Aminos or Reduced Sodium Soy Sauce
1 Seranno Pepper, ribs and seeds removed, small dice
1 inch Ginger, peeled and minced
1 Garlic Clove, crushed
For the Salad
1 cup Edamame Beans
1 large Carrot, small dice
1 Yellow Squash
1 head Boston Bibb Lettuce
1/2 cup Orzo pasta, dry
To make the dressing, squeeze the lime juice into a bowl and add the sesame oil and liquid aminos. Add the Seranno pepper, garlic and ginger and add to the liquid in the bowl. Put to one side.
Steam the edamame beans for 3-4 minutes or microwave for a minute or two. Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions then run under cold water and allow to cool down with the beans.
Chop the lettuce into bite-size pieces. Cut the yellow squash and zucchini into thin strips. Toss together with the dressing and serve.
Edamame are very popular in our house. I’ve played with Orzo, but think I overdid it – after a certain point, I just didn’t want to eat it any more. Plus, it can be very frustrating to get on a fork.
Never discount the potential of a well seasoned and prepared portobello cap as a substitute if you get hit withe the meat urge.
I’ve been enjoying portabello burgers practically every Sunday night, when my mother-in-law comes over for turkey burgers.
What a great looking dish, and good on you for going full force with this new way of eating!
Thank you. And congratulations!
Right on my brother!
On our recent trip we had sixteen people – it was amusing how many odd food preferences our group had. For example we had at least four who avoided gluten (although none had celiac disease as far as I cold ascertain).
We had one guy who only ate vegetables for breakfast – which I think is actually a good idea!) but when you are staying at hotels that provide breakfast buffet – like fruit, breads, eggs, coffee, teas, cereals, sausages, yogurt, etc., it is a bit complicated. What he would do was go to a market the day before, buy vegetables, and have them cooked for him.
Anyway – I decided to try to stay vegan/vegetarian if given a choice; but to otherwise simply eat what was put in front of me (on our trek, for example – I think all the weird food preferences were a burden to the cooks on the trek).
And of course when you are in Peru (home of true Peruvian cuisine) you have to try alpaca (it was on every menu I saw) and cuy (said to be something that nobody ever tries twice – and I agree).
Good luck with the vegetarian /vegan quest.
I’ve reintroduced a little cheese back into my diet because I was getting too much fiber. I wish there were some way to get the binder that cheese provides in a vegan way.
Check out Joel Fuhrman’s book – Eat to Live. Very good manifesto!
I will. I’m reading the Scott Jurek book you got me for Christmas now. It’s very good, inspiring.
Can you believe I’ve never tried Orzo! It looks like a perfect addition to this salad 🙂 Just reading Michael’s comment and even though I am currently eating vegan and gluten free I have actually been thinking that when travelling (or attending a dinner party) I feel I would not want to be a pain so to a certain extent would just accept the food given to me! I love the idea of buying fresh veg for breakfast too! 🙂
You have well documented in your blog your attempts to remain vegan and gluten free while attending festivals and done an excellent job describing the challenges. Didn’t you go to France last year? I don’t remember.
I did indeed! Remaining on any kind of diet whilst staying with my foodie mum in France is difficult 🙂 once were together we spend hours just cooking in the kitchen for the sake of it. Plenty of bread, cheese and wine flowing! This year bless her she has said she is already planning vegan, gluten free meals for us to make! Now I must just resist that freshly baked French bread! 🙂
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