Vegetarian in a Meat-Centric Household

Alyssa Wright shares some of the changes in her relationship to eating out and cooking at home since becoming vegetarian.

My family loves meat. For the longest time, I loved meat. My family has even raised animals to eat them. We’ve gone hunting for deer and squirrels. We processed deer, rabbits, and fish in our kitchen and ducks in our backyard. My dad helped a friend process his chickens. We buy half a cow or pig on a regular basis.

And then I changed my mind. I decided I had some disagreements with eating meat, so instead of ruminating over it for ages, I committed to quit. I’ve talked openly about having meat after changing my mind. It’s only been almost three months. Here’s a few of the aspects of changing my diet I hadn’t anticipated.

Fast Food/Eating Out

I eat a lot of Panera Bread. A lot. Almost every day that I work, I buy food. I had a lot of variety in what I chose from the menu before. Now I tend to pick from the same small selection of items. The caprese sandwich, the BBQ mac n cheese with avocado instead of chicken, the Mediterranean veggie sandwich, or the southwest chili lime salad with avocado instead of chicken. Almost every time, I order one of those.

As for other places, most of the ones near me are burgers, like McDonalds or Wendy’s or Burger King or Culver’s. I don’t crave burgers at all anymore, and I haven’t even wanted to go get fries or icecream there either. I’ve gone to Chipotle once, a Chinese place twice, and Taco Bell twice, but those have vegetarian main dish options other than just salad.

Cooking at Home

I knew we ate a lot of meat at my house. What I hadn’t expected was how much more time I would spend cooking. Whereas before I cooked dinner for the family once a week and made myself lunch sometimes depending on the leftovers, now I cook nearly every day. Most of the time, there are no vegetable leftovers or very little. So I can’t base my meals off leftovers, I have to make something. I’ve bought some of my own food the last couple months and learned a little about just how expensive it is.

I’ve had a lot of fun with food since becoming vegetarian. I had viewed it as restrictive, coming from a meat-centric perspective, but it’s actually not. I have to pay more attention to what I’m eating, yes, but it’s encouraged experimentation and a playfulness that I hadn’t fully tapped into before. I created a soup without a recipe when I had a cold in place of chicken noodle soup. I had fun making that soup, experimenting with the basic cooking principles I had learned in the past. I took a favorite recipe of mine, Serbian mussaka, and tried it with black beans. I had the vegetable ratios off, but it worked. I never would have thought to try making it with black beans at all if I hadn’t become vegetarian.


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Have you tried any different diets before? What surprised you the most? Let me know in the comments!

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