The Great Vegetarian Experiment

Captain’s Log Stardate 100616: It’s been almost an entire year since I attempted to go vegetarian. Here is my story.

It was last October when I first started researching the impacts of the meat industry on the environment. I watched a few documentaries and read some research online. As with anything, you can find *any* opinion you want on the internet. There is always someone somewhere that will back you up! However, I read enough info to be convinced of one concrete fact: I wanted to reduce my meat consumption.

And thus, the 30-day veggie experiment was born…

….but it kinda lasted longer than that. Let me explain

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PC: Will Rochfort

On October 31, 2015, I ate some shrimp scampi at our Halloween party {we do it right,  y’all!}, put down my fork, and declared my 30-day trial to be in effect. Regardless of your beliefs on meat consumption, I think we can all agree that eating less meat is an easy way to reduce our carbon footprint. I decided to start with 30 days of strict vegetarianism and see where it took me.

As a strict veggie gal, I lasted approximately 30 days. In fact, it went all the way until Thanksgiving, 2015, when my mom pulled out Alaskan King Crab legs for dinner. My mouth started watering as I eyeballed the shells, and I knew I was going to break. But as I dug into the crab, I came to a realization: I had no desire to eat the turkey. None at all. So maybe I should just listen to my body?

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One of *many* veggie meals that Will and I both loved.

From Thanksgiving until this week, I went pescatarian. However, I was very aware of how often we ate seafood. I tried to cap it to twice/week and based the rest of my meals around veggies. I can’t say I became a pro with tofu, but I learned enough to make some tasty dishes! I discovered that tossing tofu pieces in corn starch and then cooking them in a cast iron pan with coconut oil and salt was a delightful flavor that both Will *and* me loved equally. Tofu became a regular part of our weekly meals, as did tofu dogs {fake hot dogs}. In fact, those tofu dogs are still a favorite lunch staple of mine. They take zero time to cook and taste great!

As we crept into 2016, my desire to eat non-seafood meat diminished until it was non-existent. I simply didn’t want it. Will and I have never eaten red meat or pork, so there was no issues there, but I never wanted turkey and I only ate chicken on the rare occasion chicken wings landed on my table; I’m only mortal! Other than that, I found veggie options that left my happy and satiated just as much as the meat alternative. For example, I swapped out turkey sandwiches at lunch for the tofu dogs or simple avo, cucumber, red pepper, and pepper jack cheese sandwiches. Chicken stir fry became tofu stir fry. Chicken sandwiches became black bean burgers. In the past 12 months, I’d estimate that I’ve eaten meat {not including seafood} less than a half dozen times.

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Didn’t notice any loss in strength!

Only recently did I feel my urges changing. I ignored them for awhile because that’s what you do, but then I thought about it. I’m a firm believer in listening to your body and if my stomach was craving a little bit of chicken every now and again, I figure that it must need it.

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That’s where we are today. In the last two weeks, I’ve eaten a bit of chicken; maybe one night last week when Will and I went out to dinner and the chicken breast smelled amazing. But more than anything, I’m realizing that I truly broke the habit of being reliant on meat as an everyday staple in my diet. I suspect I will occasionally eat it moving forward, but I truly feel that I found a happy medium for my body, and that falls in the 80% veggie/15% seafood/5% meat pie chart. This pleases me since I feel like I did what I set out to do: reduce my meat consumption and thus, my environmental impact.

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14 Comments

  • Reply Chantae October 7, 2016 at 2:16 am

    Good job for sticking with it and finding something that works! I have to try that tofu recipe.

    I’ve been veg since ten years old and whenever people (usually straight-up carnivores) come to me saying, “I never am going to eat meat again!!!” I try to encourage them to scale back on the meat, and adopt a less-meat approach before going cold tofurkey. It’s more realistic and still helps the environment immensely 🙂

    • Reply Art October 7, 2016 at 6:35 am

      Lol, cold tofurkey!

      • Reply Heather October 7, 2016 at 10:57 am

        Haha that made me laugh too 🙂

  • Reply Alyssa October 7, 2016 at 11:41 am

    Love it! We’ve been on the veg train for about the same amount of time. I always said that I wasn’t going to be too strict – though I don’t believe meat should be an every day staple, it could still make an appearance at special occasions… like our honeymoon! I broke my red meat fast last week at the Ahwahnee with a gorgeous rack of lamb and discovered that while I still thought it smelled delicious, I just couldn’t get past the texture. Not eating meat for almost a year has completely re-sensitized me to the awkward feeling of eating animals. I guess it’s a good thing, now I know I don’t need to feel tempted!

  • Reply Marc October 7, 2016 at 12:20 pm

    Congrats on doing the veggie thing! I plan to go full on veggie next year! So what are these tofu dogs u speak of? Do you have a favorite brand? ☺

    • Reply Heather October 8, 2016 at 8:31 am

      I don’t remember the brand but we buy them at Sprouts in the section with the tofu and seitan products. They have a few different types!

  • Reply Andrea October 7, 2016 at 3:16 pm

    Congrats on achieving a more veggie-filled lifestyle. While I was in college I went mostly vegetarian, only eating meat on occasion when I would come home to visit my parents. Since getting married, I’ve been eating a lot more animal protein because my husband loves it so much. Gradually I think I’ve gotten him to try more veggie-heavy meals, but he loves a good burger or steak. Keep on, keepin’ on and thanks for the inspiration!

  • Reply Claire October 7, 2016 at 6:05 pm

    Thanks for sharing your inspiring journey on becoming a flexitarian! I too started with an experiment on a vegan diet then after 6 months I transitioned to a vegetarian diet. Nowadays, I’m a happy pescatarian! Our country has a meat centric diet and it has caused numerous metabolic conditions that can be prevented by adopting a healthier, plant-based diet. And together we can all help to reduce our carbon footprint and advocate for animal welfare!

  • Reply Miss Kitty October 8, 2016 at 2:40 am

    I started cutting back on my meat consumption this year, not so much for the environment as for my health – I realised one morning that virtually every meal I ate was centred around meat. Gradually I have cut this back and have found that there are plenty of vege dishes that are tasty and filling. I can’t quite make myself give meat up entirely though – I like it too much!

  • Reply Ingunn October 8, 2016 at 7:07 am

    Congratulations!! I’ve heard several people say things like “I wish I could go vegetarian but there’s just no way I could celebrate Thanksgiving without turkey” and I’m like…why not eat vegetarian the rest of the year and then eat that turkey on Thanksgiving/Christmas/whatever? Good on you for making it work for you.

    Re: tofu, Daily Garnish has a recipe for blackened tofu that is soooo good! Even my two-year old loves it.

  • Reply Jessie October 10, 2016 at 2:21 pm

    I hear ya on craving animal protein every once in a while, especially seafood! I mostly cook plant-based because it is quick, easy, and cheap, but I applaud you for eating strictly vegetarian. I always make sure that when I am eating animal protein it is organic, grass fed / free range, and local sourced as much as possible. That makes a big difference!

  • Reply Paul October 18, 2016 at 4:18 pm

    Interesting experiment!

  • Reply Christy October 25, 2016 at 9:07 am

    I know people love to jump on the it’s better for the environment bandwagon so I thought I would share this with you, http://www.agdaily.com/insights/farm-babe-no-livestock-arent-destroying-planet/.

    Movies like Cowspiracy are made by people with one agenda in mind.. to end all animal agriculture. They use old skewed studies and twist the data to fit their needs.

    Nothing wrong with being vegan, vegetarian or whatever a person wants to do, and I can support a person eating what fits them best, but I do like to defend my way of life and counter bad info and bad propaganda

    • Reply Heather October 26, 2016 at 6:27 am

      I saw when you posted this on Facebook the other day! I’ve been looking into it a bit more, too. Thanks for sharing!

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