I have never been a vegetarian. Now, this is something I never wanted to do, but it kept coming up as a challenge from friends and family members when I first began discussing my “I have never...” idea. Knowing there was no chance I would ever give up my omnivorous ways for a full year, I decided would take on the challenge of being a vegetarian for a full week at some point during my “I have never...” journey. While I would continue daily “I have never...” events during the challenge, my life without meat would persist for a full seven days. I wasn’t looking forward to it, but I knew I would learn a lot from the experience. As a result, I decided to start my “I have never...” vegetarian sub-challenge today and start keeping track of my daily efforts. Over the next week I will update this blog entry daily to discuss my ongoing vegetarian efforts.
Meat... I will miss you.
Day 1: It begins. I woke up today and took a quick stock of our pantry to gauge the likelihood of me making it through the week as a vegetarian. The results didn’t look good. Nearly every food in our house that could serve as a main course I would eat contains some kind of meat product. Obviously, I had to do something about it. So, this morning I got by with what we had at the house, grabbing a quick bit of fruit for breakfast and preparing myself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, some pretzels, a peach, and some grapes for lunch. Midway through the day the meal made due, but I was very hungry by the end of my workday.
|Day 1 - Lunch: Peanut Butter and Jelly|
On my way home, I stopped at the grocery store to pick up some veggies, juice, fruit, and other goods to make quesadillas and some other vegetable dishes in the coming days. While at the store I had to remind myself several times the deli was off limits and that certain prepared food items contained meat products. Baked beans? Yeah, most of them contain bacon... Tonight’s green pepper, jalapeno, mushroom, and corn quesadilla with a side of vegetarian baked beans definitely hit the spot, but I’m already missing meat... Chicken would have made that quesadilla incredible, and finding a bacon treasure in my baked beans would have made me a happy camper.
|Preparing for the week...|
|Day 1 - Dinner: Veggie Quesadilla|
Day 2: I was in a hurry this morning, and I made a big rookie mistake. After skipping breakfast, I grabbed a few items for my lunch including some pretzels, some yogurt, and a package of beef ramen... BEEF. I didn’t realize my mistake until I was preparing the food at work this afternoon. Just as I was about to pour the seasoning packet into the ramen my eye caught the bright white letters on the wrapper. I immediately put the packet down and flipped the wrapper over to read the ingredients. There in fine print under the seasoning packet list of ingredients were the words “beef fat.” Go figure, they call it beef ramen because it has beef in the seasoning... As a result, my lunch consisted of unseasoned ramen, yogurt, and pretzels. If anyone has ever experience unseasoned ramen before, they will nod their head in agreement when I say, “it sucks.” It is nothing more than a briny mix of soft noodles... Sounds delicious!
|Day 2 - Lunch: Rookie mistake... Unseasoned Ramen|
Despite my rookie mistake, the meal got me through the workday. Then on the way home tonight I saw someone at a bus stop eating a burger. As if to taunt me, the man annihilated the beef patty as if he hadn’t eaten in days while I sat at a red light little more than 15 feet away. That stated, I was ok. I didn’t feel the need to bust out of my car door, wrestle the beef from his hands, and shove it into my face. Not yet, anyway, but then again, it’s only day two. Upon arriving home, Rachael was in the process of making me what I would call a veggie paella. She referred to it as “an experiment.” Regardless, I happily nibbled away at some of the paella and some Tostitos after tonight’s “I have never...” experience with Absinthe. I went to bed with a full stomach, and I felt OK. Two days down... Five to go.
|Day 2 - Dinner: Veggies and Rice|
Day 3: Today was the first day I really started to miss meat. After a few grapes for breakfast and a lunch of quesadilla and beans leftovers, I started feeling like something was missing. Perhaps it was because a team near my desk had a potluck with BBQ pork and sloppy Joe meat cooking most of the day, or perhaps it is my body starting to ask, “Hey, um, what’s up with this?” Whatever the reason, thoughts of brats and burgers have danced in my head today. In fact, they are inducing a Pavlovian response as I type this. However, I’m going to keep focused and stay on course. I can make it through Sunday. I know that.
Tonight I went out with some work friends, and, of all places, we decided to grab a bite at A.J. Bombers burger restaurant. Much to my surprise, the restaurant had a variety of vegetarian options, which made it relatively easy for me to a make a choice for tonight's meal. That stated, I found if hard to eat my black bean burger as those around me demolished cheeseburgers, mushroom burgers, and deep fried pickle burgers. I wanted to take a bite of their meals so badly, it made it hard to concentrate on my burger, which was actually quite decent. Regardless, my work friends did more than enough to make me know how delightful their meals were. With that, I can say I miss eating meat A LOT. I guess I only have eight to eleven meals left before I complete my goal. Needless to say, I can't wait until Monday.
|A.J. Bombers Black Bean Burger|
Day 4: Today my body started to retaliate in response to my vegetarian efforts. After eating a decent amount of vegetable paella for lunch my stomach slowly started to ache and I felt hungry little more than one hour later. It wasn't a sick feeling and it wasn't a food poisoning kind of ache, it was something different. Also, everything I had to eat was relatively fresh, which made the likelihood of food borne illness even less likely. As I tried to figure out the source, the muted, consistent pain in my gut held on for some time, even as I started to feel hungry again. It was clear something was up, and the only change I could attribute it to was the lack of meat in my diet. I could be wrong, but that was my first inclination. Whatever the reason, I knew the aching wasn't going derail my ongoing vegetarian challenge. So, I pushed through it and geared up for dinner tonight, which was an "I have never..." event of its own, eating from a food cart.