40 Things I Learned by Going 40 Days Vegetarian

As a Baptist, the concept of Lent has always interested me. The thought of giving something up for 40 (well, 46 really) days seemed so intriguing. Lent wasn’t ever something I had practiced, but I often pondered what I would try to give up…and if I could last from Ash Wednesday all the way to Easter Sunday. This year, perhaps with the influence of NOLA and Mardi Gras festivities, I decided to give it a go and give up meat. While I’m not necessarily a carnivorous gal, I do enjoy a good burger and a backyard BBQ. I knew that becoming vegetarian would be challenging, but I had faith that it was something I could easily accomplish.

It’s now been a few days since I successfully made it (piece of cake, right?). I’ve started to add animal protein back into my diet, and in doing so I found that I learned a few things during — and after — this journey.

  1. Chick-fil-A Good News Waffle FriesChick-fil-a must be a little piece of heaven on Earth. Having said that, it is also a slap in the face since it is closed on Sundays (you know, the day I could finally eat meat again). To get me through during my 40+ day journey, its waffle fries and Chick-fil-A sauce had to suffice when I had a craving.
  2. Who knew I liked, and wanted, bacon so often? I mean, seriously?! I began to imagine how much better my Parmesan kale pasta or maple-flavored ice cream would be with little bits of bacon in it. (It would be immensely better, by the way.)
  3. Tofu is weird. They say it’s soy, but I’m not so sure I buy into it.
  4. Making a quick “throw-together” meal is so much simpler when you don’t have to include a meat.
  5. Hummus is delicious. (I technically already knew this one, but it was recently further solidified.)
  6. There are several great chickpea recipes, and they often involve curry.
  7. Eat Healthy Curry ChickpeaSpeaking of curry, this stuff is delicious. I just don’t like to smell it for days after I’ve cooked with it.
  8. BudgetBytes.com became a new friend. The vegetarian section gave delicious, inexpensive recipes – which was extra nice considering I was also on a tight budget.
  9. I can cook. How ’bout that!?
  10. Being vegetarian CAN be cheap…but it can also get EXPENSIVE. Why do places have to charge $13 for a salad – sans chicken – that I could have easily made at home for $3? The nerve!
  11. Going out was probably when I had hardest time. Unless you’re going to a place that really caters to vegetarians, you’re going to have to get creative. “Instead of the steak, can I just get grilled veggies? Do you even have grilled veggies? No? I’ll just have the salad…without chicken.”
  12. Jacksonville really needs a better selection of vegetarian-friendly restaurants.
  13. There are so many new places that I’m dying to try now. Since adding meat back into my diet, I visited a new Jacksonville place, Hawkers Asian Street Fare. It didn’t disappoint.
  14. Giving up meat takes a little bit of research prior to making the commitment. For instance, did you know that it’s really hard (basically impossible) to get B-12 from plant-based proteins? If you’re thinking of going vegetarian, consider the supplements you may need to fill in the gaps.
  15. It IS possible to get a good amount of plant-based proteins. This was my mother’s main concern when I told her I was giving up meat. “But how will you get your protein?”  It’s actually pretty easy – and this article helped me convince my mom.
  16. I could probably definitely eat spinach at every meal. Every day. All of the days.
  17. Wasabi PeasWarning: Eating too many Wasabi Peas can cause you to temporarily lose the ability to taste food.
  18. Being vegetarian doesn’t mean that all of your options are “healthy.” So, while a diet of Chick-fil-A waffle fries is technically vegetarian, it’s not exactly an ideal diet.
  19. Friends will do one of two things:
    (One) Forget that you’ve given up meat and offer you the most delicious-looking steak/chicken/lamb/fish you’ve ever seen. Ever.
  20. (Two) Announce to the table/server/random people that you’ve given up meat/are a vegetarian.
  21. Some people don’t like vegetables. These people are not always children.
  22. Marshmallows are technically NOT vegetarian.
  23. I did not follow this rule. (Some rules are meant to be broken.)
  24. I really like mushrooms. I thought it was only under certain circumstances prepared in certain ways. Nope. I like ’em all kinds of ways.
  25. There was never a time that a craving for meat couldn’t be satisfied with a vegetarian alternative.
  26. I really don’t crave meat. Chocolate, however…(if that’s not vegetarian then I guess I broke that rule, too)
  27. Proverbs 15:17There’s a fun Bible verse about vegetables:
    A bowl of vegetables with someone you love
    is better than steak with someone you hate. (Provers 15:17 – NLT)
  28. Pretty sure no one said this about chicken:
    “Let’s face it, a nice creamy chocolate cake does a lot for a lot of people; it does for me.” -Audrey Hepburn
  29. Donuts could be a real meal. Or a pre-meal. A really good pre-meal. (This may have happened.)
  30. I could not be vegan. I love cheese.
  31. The fancier the grilled cheese, the better.
  32. This fancy grilled cheese would also be good with bacon.
  33. I can eat bacon right now, but I haven’t. Funny how things like that work out.
  34. I thought that after going so long without meat that I might feel sick eating it again. I guess I didn’t go long enough.
  35. I did feel a little better about myself by not eating meat. It was almost like I single-handedly saved an animal’s life. (You’re welcome, Wilbur.)
  36. I’d like to continue cutting out meat, but not all together. I think that having the option of meat every now and then cuts the desire to want it in the first place. (You always want what you can’t have.)
  37. Cutting out meat was more of a challenge because I felt limited in choices – not because I felt like I needed meat.
  38. I’m already indecisive, so narrowing down the menu to one small section is probably a good thing for me.
  39. I could be a vegetarian – but I’m not so sure I want to be.
  40. It doesn’t matter what’s on your plate when you’re surrounded by great friends and family.

 

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