5 Things I Realized After I Gave Up Meat for 31 Days

We. Did. It! It is officially November and my boyfriend and I haven't eaten meat or fish in 31 days! You can read my previous post here about why we decided to give up meat for a short time and here about how we were doing half-way through.

I thought about recapping the rest of the month and what I ate, but honestly - there are a million vegetarian blogs out there that can do that better than I can. So instead, I want to tell you truthfully - as a meat lover - 5 things I realized after giving up meat for 31 days. And to preface this, please don't think anything I say has any scientific value to it - it is simply the surface of my feelings after completing a personal challenge.

1. Vegetarians (Vegans too) really do get a bad rep - Okay peeps - I get annoyed at all the people who post non-stop about their eating habits on Facebook too, but does it really affect you? Click the "Unfollow" button and move on with your life! I mentioned this briefly in my last post, but we got SO many confused faces and laughs when we told people we were vegetarian. We also got a lot of peer pressure comments like "C'mon, just eat meat - we know you want to." Usually it meant no harm, but I it got pretty old by the end of the month.

Lol... just let me eat my vegetables!

Lol... just let me eat my vegetables!

2. My body does feel different - I decided not to weigh myself before and after because I didn't want to be bogged down in the numbers game. I think it might be something I do in the future, but not the first time around. Instead, I wanted to focus on how my body felt and yes, I do feel different!

First, the bad - I had CRAZY stomach pains and bloating. I was so confused - aren't vegetables supposed to make you feel better? Apparently, having tummy problems is actually a real thing when you first transition to a vegetarian/vegan diet. This is basically because your digestive system isn't used to the shift of nutrients your body is now ingesting. You learn something new every day!

Secondly, the good - eating vegetarian really did make me feel better on a daily basis. I always felt full - but not disgustingly full (you know the feeling I'm talking about). Also, (and sorry this might be TOO MUCH information) my digestive system was much more regular and pleasant. Okay, that's all I'm going to say about that.

3. Vegetarian isn't just leafy greens - Looking back at everything I ate this month, I actually don't think I had one salad. I could have probably used more salads - but they aren't my favorite. So if you're someone like me who doesn't like eating raw greens, there are still a lot of options for you! There are great hearty vegetarian meals out there like vegetarian chili, a vegetarian curry like Malai Kofta (my favorite), or even pasta with veggies (yay carbs!). 

Not the prettiest, but this chili was so filling and perfect for the cold weather.  

Not the prettiest, but this chili was so filling and perfect for the cold weather.

 

When I was too lazy to make lunch or dinner, I whipped up a quick meal with asian noddles, green onions, and leftover brocolli

When I was too lazy to make lunch or dinner, I whipped up a quick meal with asian noddles, green onions, and leftover brocolli

4. Make your own Veggie Burgers - it's so easy! On our last week of eating vegetarian, I was making a shopping list for the night's dinner. I planned to make black bean burgers because (let's be honest) I was lazy and didn't feel very creative. Out of curiosity, I wondered how easy it would be to make them from scratch. Answer: super easy! Another plus was that I already had 90% of the ingredients in my pantry. I only had to buy black beans which ended up costing me about $1.50 which made 6 patties as opposed to the $5 it cost to buy a pack of 4 ready-made. Score!

I used the Pioneer Women's black bean burger recipe and they turned out GREAT. The only changes I made was I added garlic because I love garlic and sweet potatoes because I had some leftover in the fridge. After realizing how easy that was, I definitely want to experiment with making other veggie type burgers.

Pre-Cooked Black Bean Burgers  

Pre-Cooked Black Bean Burgers

 

So much better than the thin frozen veggie burgers!

So much better than the thin frozen veggie burgers!

5. I didn't crave meat as much as I thought I would - Sure, I craved meat when my coworkers ordered the all-you-can-eat steak and crab buffet, but overall I didn't really think about it that much on a daily basis. I simply stocked my pantry and fridge with yummy fruits/vegetables and even some frozen vegetarian meals for those lazy days. 

We ended up going to Chick-fil-A on November 1st as our first vegetarian meal. We LOVE Chick-fil-A... but honestly, after my meal I wasn't more satisfied than any other meals I had during my meatless month. Who would have thought that giving it up was that easy!

Our first non-vegetarian meal... Chick-Fil-A! Please don't judge haha

Our first non-vegetarian meal... Chick-Fil-A! Please don't judge haha

So what's my final consensus? I don't think I would ever go completely vegetarian/vegan - but I will for sure continue to reduce my meat intake on a daily basis. I also think this opened a door in our household to have non-meat dinners every now and then (my boyfriend surprisingly loved eating black bean burgers) as well as ordering vegetarian meals while out.

So there you have it. Now I'm preparing for about 2 weeks in Asia where we'll be eating a TON of new food. So excited! Until next time (probably December)...

Meatless Mid-Month Check In

'Ello All! It is officially past one month of eating vegetarian for the month. How are we fairing? Not. Too. Shabby!

To be honest, I'm not sure we're eating very healthy even though we've cut out meat from our diet. I was traveling for an entire week so a lot of meals were eaten out which ended up being a lot of pasta and...

PIZZA! Okay, I'm not really complaining... but I do feel guilty!

But I swear it's not all pizza (just a lot of it). Lunches end up being my healthiest meals because I'm always planning them ahead. So far I've done a lot of smoothie bowls:

I picked up a giant jug of Acai and a giant bag of organic berries from Costco and blended everything together with some flax seeds. Then I picked up whatever fresh fruit is on sale at my local Giant to top it off. I also picked up some Bear Naked Cacao + Cashew Butter Soft Baked Granola to add some crunch. YUM! Pretty proud of this one!

We have made a few veggie dinners at home. The easiest being veggie sandwiches made out of MorningStar Farms Spicy Black Bean Burgers. These were actually super delicious. Still can't believe I've convinced my boyfriend to eat a veggie burger though...

Lastly, one of the more adventurous recipes we tried was A Pinch of Yum's General Tso's Chicken. This was a HIT! I wouldn't go as far as saying the cauliflower taste like chicken, but it definitely reminded us of it. We paired it with some rice and vegetable pot stickers and it definitely felt like we just ordered Chinese take-out.

 

I will say that this recipe was SUPER laborious. I ended up not even making all of the cauliflower because I just got tired of cooking. Haha, luckily it did last us 3 days of leftovers.

So that is a quick update of our Vegetarian Month. I'm definitely surprised at how easy it is to cut out meat, but ONLY when eating in. It's definitely difficult to go out to eat with friends and not have as many choices as they do.

As far as how I feel? Not too much different than before. I didn't weigh myself or anything when I started this so I don't think I can report any actual statistics. I do have a better conscience though!

 

We're going Vegetarian!

... but just for this month! Happy National Vegetarian Month!

Okay, that's not the only reason my boyfriend and I have decided to go vegetarian for a month. The truth is, we have a big trip coming in November to Asia. With that in mind, we want to:

1. Save Money

and

2. Eat Healthier (before we have to be back in bathing suits and are ready to eat every pig in the Philippines and cow in Japan)

(Bonus reason: to help the environment!)

As the granddaughter of a livestock farmer, I am all about eating animals - it's something that I can't deny that I enjoy. But I also recognize that not eating meat (or even eating less meat), makes a big difference for one's health, one's bank account, and, of course, the environment. So, like everything in my life, I try to compromise.

I've tried to follow the ideas of a "reducitarian" (see the video below) and eat less meat on a daily basis. I'm not the best at it of course, but hopefully taking on this challenge to completely eliminate meat for a month will be a step in the right direction.

So we started our "Vegetarian Month" on the 1st of October, which was a Saturday... a BIG mistake. We ended up going to a BBQ at our friends house and they made SO much delicious BBQ - we were crying! But we brought our veggie burgers and buns and kept our will power strong. Unfortunately, my boyfriend has never made a veggie burger so he ended up keeping it on the grill for almost 30 minutes! As you can imagine they were pretty much cardboard at that point.

We salvaged the next day of eating vegetarian by going to Chipotle and having their Sofritas. We were definitely satisfied by that meal. For dinner, I made a vegetarian pot-pie... aka chicken pot pie but with no chicken or chicken stock. It wasn't too bad!

So I guess the past few days haven't really been THE healthiest of vegetarian meals, but we're easing into it. I think the next week is going to be an easy one since I'll be on a business trip for almost half of the week and eating out is always way easier than eating in, in my opinion. Let's be honest, salads are so much more delicious when someone else makes it for you.

Also, I definitely want to give big props to people who decide to eat vegetarian or vegan every day. After we told our friends we were doing this, we were faced with SO many comments about how stupid it was and how it doesn't make a difference. Sheesh! I would hate to have to face those comments every day. So good for you guys! *thumbs up*

So wish me luck and comment with any tips or vegetarian recipes you have! I'll let you know how everything goes next week....