Before we begin, let’s clarify what a vegetarian is. A vegetarian, by definition, is someone who does not eat meat. This includes, but is not limited to: beef, pork, chicken, turkey, and fish. Essentially, if it’s any animal of sorts, vegetarians do not eat it.
A person who only eats meat on occasion is considered a flexitarian. One who only eats fish/seafood is a pescatarian. A person who does not eat meat or animal products (milk, honey, eggs, etc) is considered a vegan.
I’m a vegetarian. And I’ve abstained from meat for over 3 years now.
I’ve briefly touched on my journey before, but now I’m here to sit down, dig my heels in, and tell you all about why I made this particular lifestyle change.
There are so many reasons to go vegetarian, but you have to have a reason to stay vegetarian. This is what made it hard for me to make the switch originally 5 years ago. I wanted to stop eating meat because I didn’t like it – and I did! For a whole month. There’s nothing wrong with that! I tried! I just didn’t know how to keep up with it.
When my second go round came, I immediately thought out two reasons. Why I should abstain, and why I should stay. Reason one (abstain) : I don’t like meat as it’s usually bland and isn’t all that healthy. Reason two (stay): The impact animal agriculture has on our world is not one I want to contribute to.
If there’s one doumentary you must watch in regards to animal agriculture, I’ll always recommend Cowspiracy.
I cannot justify eating any type of meat when the world is hungry. The amount of food and land it takes to feed an animal for consumption could be used to directly feed a human. And I stand firmly behind that.
For me, being a vegetarian seems most natural and in tune with my self. I enjoy veggies and meatless dishes way more than I’ve ever enjoyed meat.
This year, I made a goal to limit my intake of processed foods and start making meals out of whole foods. For the first two years of my new lifestyle, I relied solely on Morningstar Farms products to survive. I didn’t know how to cook or what to cook for myself. And while I still have some processed products in the freezer, I started googling vegetarian recipes and by vegetarian recipes, I mean that I was googling recipes in hopes of omitting meat for veggie crumbles or Impossible meat.
Here’s the thing: when you have severe food allergies and voluntarily limit your eating options further, you’re not going to get a lot of options. So, despite only wanting to eat what’s familiar to me, I have to be as creative and as flexible in learning how to better nourish myself.
My hate for eggs and avocado turned into a love. My adversions to mushrooms and brussels sprouts is slowly turning into a like. I’ve tried hummus and live for chickpeas. I’ve even learned how to make soups and chilis and wow.
It’s a culinary journey I would have otherwise not gone through if I wasn’t vegetarian. I’m eating more whole foods now than I ever have in my entire life. (We’ll just pretend I didn’t stuff myself with pizza yesterday.)
what’s in my kitchen
These are my top items that, if I’m not eating daily, I’m at least enjoying them once a week. The items I’ve discovered and just can’t get enough of. The items that make my vegetarian lifestyle a breeze.
veggie staples i can’t live without
- Chickpeas: Also known as garbanzo beans, these babies are your new best friend. Roast them to add to your favourite dishes for some extra protein, add them to soups, and even snack on them. They’re so universal and such a staple.
- Quinoa: I’ve tried this at restaurants and in soups and I can’t believe I didn’t try it sooner! I look forward to buying some the next I hit up the grocers.
- Brussels sprouts: These have always been fed to me steamed and ew. Then one day, I found some in the fridge and roasted them. Olive oil, bit of salt…stunning! They’re one of my new veggie faves!
- Mushrooms: I blame Fantastic Fungi (available on Netflix) for my new love of mushrooms. I haven’t yet tried them raw, but they’re fantastic thrown into stir-fry and when paired with onions as a side.
- Green beans: Raw, cooked, even sautéed. I love adding these as a side or a quick, healthy snack. You can find these in your local produce section, either in bulk or pre-washed in plastic bags. Opt for the bulk option for a more sustainable cart!
- Bell peppers: Fun fact! I developed an allergy of some sort to raw bell peppers and can now only eat them after they’ve been cooked. Crazy, right? One of my favorite recipes is stuffed peppers and wow, oh wow. So good!
- Avocados: I used to hate these! Turn my nose up and hate them. But then I discovered avocado toast. And I eat these weekly. Either with a meal or entirely on their own as a snack. Drizzle a bit of olive oil, sprinkle some Everything Bagel seasoning, and you’re golden!
Psst! You might like sautéed garlic green beans: easy 15-minute recipe.
3 vegetarian resources you need
There wasn’t one single source that helped me go vegetarian. I looked at pretty much whatever I could find online, and again, pulled from what was familiar and made it meatless. Here’s what I’ve found that I often turn to:
- Love and Lemons: vegetarian and vegan food blog
- Vegetarian Times: vegetarian and vegan food and lifestyle blog
- The Beginner’s Guide to Becoming a Vegetarian: medically reviewed guide
Another great resource is your primary physician or a dietician! They can give you the best advice when it comes to you, your body, and what you need to stay healthy.
There you have it!
Not ready to commit to a vegetarian lifestyle? Try Meatless Mondays! They’re a great start and help reduce meat consumption. You can start by taking your favourite meal and swapping the meat for a vegetarian/vegan product.
For example, instead of beef/turkey in sloppy joes, grab Impossible Meat or Beyond Meat. Two great meatless options – and just as good! Swap your meat patty for a black bean patty or a veggie patty. Yum!
What do you think about going (or trying) vegetarian/vegetarianism? Let me know in the comments below.