Well the month is up and here's what I learned...
It was easier than I thought it would be. I expected to really miss the texture, flavor and protein source. The only time I really missed it was when we ordered sushi and I refrained from my favorite roll. But, other than that I got along quite nicely without it.
Good food is good food. This isn't a new revelation for me, but it was definitely reinforced throughout the month. If the food is tasty, fresh and made with love, I'll eat and enjoy it. It can be raw, vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, really from any food pyramid.
This one's just for me. Many of the family cooks out there can probably relate. Over the years, my culinary freedom has been limited by the likes and dislikes of my family members. I am forced to limit the ingredients I like to include to please the masses. My husband doesn't like onions or mushrooms, my daughter doesn't like a lot of sauce and my son doesn't like vegetables in general. Cooking for myself, I was able to cook unrestrained and got to use all of the things I love, in abundance. It was quite liberating and was a fun spark of creativity. I even developed a vegetarian recipe for bierocks or “runzas”, which I'll post later.
Meals can go both ways. Cooking two meals got a little tedious, especially when time was tight. But, I did discover a number of dishes/meals that worked for everyone. Tacos, quiche, pizza and pasta were the easiest ones. I would create a vegetarian version and then provide a side of meat to satisfy that contingency.
Let's be real. Pre-packaged foods and mock meats did not do it for me. In general, we don't eat a lot of pre-packaged items anyway. I tried some of the mock meat crumbles in sauces, but they didn't really add anything. Veggie burgers were helpful in quick meal situations or when the fam had turkey or salmon burgers. I never quite understood mock meats and still don't.
Eating out was a challenge. I was really surprised that there were so few vegetarian options on the menu. We only ate out a couple of times and I guess I just expected there to be more of a choice. You could usually count on some sort of vegetable pasta or stir-fry, something with a cheese or a salad. The vegetarian items I found were tasty though.
Excuse me. It should be noted that when you put all of those wonderful things into your meals like onions, mushrooms and spinach, you will most likely be gassy. If anyone has any special secrets for let's say, equilibrium, I would love to hear them.
I really enjoyed being a vegetarian. I ate a lot of good food, lost a couple of pounds and created a few new recipes. While I'm not ready to define myself to this one food pyramid, I am definitely choosing my meals more consciously and taking a little more time to include the fruits and veggies that I love. I've maintained a mostly vegetarian diet, but I did enjoy my favorite sushi when the month was up.
*For more information on the benefits of a vegetarian diet check out the following article from Vegetarian Times. http://www.vegetariantimes.com/resources/why_go_veg/