I stopped eating meat on December 4, I think. I have only made two exceptions to my vegetarian diet. I had a small piece of ham during Christmas dinner. At my boyfriend’s family’s New Year’s Eve party, I had two boneless chicken wings, two beef (?) ravioli, and a “sausage flower.” I was really surprised to find that I didn’t really enjoy it.
I used to love meat. When I first stopped, the biggest temptation was bacon. It still tempts me. A lot of menu items with meat are tempting. The chicken salad sandwich on a croissant, the chipotle chicken avocado melt, the steak and arugula, the Cuban… I loved meat.
Which is why I was so surprised. I probably would have thought the ham was fantastic before. It was okay, but I didn’t want more than the small piece I got. I was really tempted by the chicken wings, they smelled and looked so good. So I made an exception, and wasn’t actually impressed. I know that I probably would have thought it was delicious and gotten more if I hadn’t stopped eating meat.
Less than a month of eating vegetarian and my taste preferences changed. I’m really shocked, honestly. I would have expected it to take longer for me to not enjoy meat.
Monday night and Tuesday I hadn’t fully committed. I thought I would try it or eat a lot less meat. I was eating vegetarian, but thought I would eat meat Wednesday night. I managed to abstain from meat, including bacon. Bacon was the biggest temptation. My grandma offered me bacon on Monday and my parents made bacon on Tuesday. I almost caved. Almost.
Wednesday I thought I’d have a small amount of meat for dinner. I was ready to commit to eating significantly less meat, but was still debating if I’d have any meat. That night I found I didn’t want to eat the chicken. That surprised me. I’d expected it to take longer for me to be disinterested in meat. I was definitely not disinterested in the leftover bacon in the fridge, but I didn’t want the chicken I’d made.
Thursday was harder than anticipated. It was my first day back at work since I’d stopped eating meat. I thought Panera would be easy because there’s a lot of various options. How wrong I was! While making people’s food, I remembered how much I love the chipotle chicken avocado melt and the Cuban panini… and bacon. I was reminded of my love for bacon countless times. I told myself, “Bacon is the enemy,” and laughed at myself for that. I also realized only two of the soups are vegetarian and I don’t really like one of them. I still managed to not order anything with meat.
Friday was the best of the first four days. I had fewer problems with feeling hungry and had an easier time abstaining from meat. I talked with Julianna Carbonare, a member of my Praxis cohort who has been vegetarian and vegan, about my problem with hunger. She suggested that I need more protein, so I made an effort to increase my protein intake. I had eggs twice, for breakfast and lunch. I discovered that the green passion smoothie at Panera is fantastic with basil.
Saturday I had thought out what I’d eat ahead of time. I learned that Culver’s, a burger place, surprisingly has a vegetarian soup and a few salads. At this point, it was already getting easier and feeling more natural to not eat meat. I did not want it, and only craved bacon a few times while at work. I had a better understanding of how much I needed to eat throughout the day to not feel ravenously hungry.
By the end of the week (only a week!) it felt natural. I never thought I would ever be vegetarian, but now I am.
Throughout the week I talked a lot with my friend Justine about food and eating vegetarian. She shared the information she had and suggested some food ideas. At her recommendation, I bought a few vegetarian canned soups from the brand Amy’s. I picked out some other soups while browsing. I made overnight oats Friday night and they lasted through Monday morning. I made protein “cookies” for a portable, filling snack early in the week. That first batch had a grainy texture that didn’t feel like a cookie, but the taste was good. I made another batch Monday morning before work. I didn’t follow a recipe or write down how I made them, just combined ingredients based on my knowledge of baking in general and cookies more specifically. They turned out better this time, but they were a bit crispier than I intended.
I’ve had to be more conscious of what I’m eating and putting in my body. I pay attention to foods that contain protein, because that helps stave off hunger between meals. I did some research to make this easier and now have a list of 36 plants or plant based foods that contain protein.
It’s been difficult starting out, but I feel good about what I’m eating and that I’m not harming animals.