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.
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!).
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.
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!
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)...