A little over a year ago, I made a full-stop on eating meat. I originally gave it a six-month commitment, but a year on, I don't really have any plans to go back, and so far, I pretty much like it. I won't rule out ever eating meat again, especially if its wild, shot by a local hunter. Or a buffalo, because those things don't put up with being force fed, raised improperly, or injected with hormones (I'm making an assumption on that last one). However, so far, unless it can survive under water for more than 24 hours, I don't eat it. I have taken to describing myself as a vegetarian, but I'm not totally comfortable with that description yet either.
In the last year, I've learned a few things. Mainly, there is a lot of stuff that they (whomever "they" is) don't tell you about becoming vegetarian. I had read a fair bit about making the transition, but really, there's a boatload they left out, such as the following:
You can call bullcrap on the "you will lose lots of weight when you cut out meat." Baloney... or whatever the vegetarian substitute is. Maybe you lose weight if you go vegan, but really, is life really worth living if you can't eat cheese?
Speaking of substitutes... they're terrible, but well meaning meat-eaters will buy them so you can "participate" in meals with them, even if you've said that you don't need anything special. I didn't go vegetarian to eat processed vegetables shaped into cutlets. Now, I have to admit, that, knowing this, but vaguely remembering a food cart I patronized in grad school with vegetarian hotdogs, one time this summer I purchased a package of tofu hot dogs. We were camping in the mountains near Independence Pass, and I wanted to grill hot dogs over the fire. We ended up having to make a last-minute trip into town, and I grabbed my tofu-dog and took in the car with me.
Where I gagged, spat it out the window, chucked the rest, and apologized pre-emptively to whatever animal might find the offending "food item" along the side of the road. Seriously, it was THAT bad. I promise you, whatever sides you are making are just fine with me if I come to dinner.
How about this one? The cookbooks you own have vegetarian recipes in them, except you don't know that because you rarely look through them. Seriously, it wasn't until we moved into the House on the Prairie that I realized that my definitive grilling guide had all kinds of vegetarian recipes in it that beat the heck out of boiling lentils and adding dill.
Or this one? Despite NOT losing weight for your food choices, you might as well move your desk into the lavatory at work, because, between the increase in fiber that comes with getting your protein sources from beans, legumes, etc., and the overall increase in fruits (mostly water), and vegetables you will eat, well, you're in there like 100 times a day. 200 if you have my size bladder.
On a related... note, beans and legumes have significant side effects. You will keep Beano in your purse, and take it faithfully, but your intestines will laugh at you and ask "you really think THAT is going to stop THIS?" Last night, I literally had to run into the house after a bean burrito dinner, wherein Eric followed me in and complained that he had to trace my "trail of tears" into the house... between this and the other odiferous things I consume, I really am not sure some days how he puts up with me.
Oh! And how about this? If you run, you've probably encounter the bonk at some point- you know, when you just run out of energy or have nothing left suddenly? Well trust me, if you don't put enough protein in your lunch, you will bonk on your afternoon run. Hard. There were a number of times when we lived in the House in the Woods where I was running through the hills and got stuck drag-walking my rear end back to the house.
The upside? I dropped something like 70 triglyceride points after just 3 months of the new routine. Oh, and you can eat like as much salad as you want. All the time. You can have salad for breakfast.
Yes, I know I am the only person on earth who gets happy thinking about salad. Whatever, its my blog and I'll eat salad for breakfast if I want to.
Also, with very few exceptions, you can almost always find something to eat when you go out, even if you go to the barbeque joint. Your friends and family will be worried and freak out a little, but you will know that you will be fine. You will, however, get the side-eye from the guy in the "I didn't claw my way to the top of the food chain to eat vegetables" t-shirt behind the counter when you order just corn on the cob or a potato.
Lastly, you will spend a LOT of time talking about food, and explaining why you became a vegetarian. Like, you know, when you write a blog post about it...
Did I really just write another blog post about going to the bathroom and how stinky I am?