Here’s the deal: For the past 30 years, I have been a meat-eater. The thought of living a vegetarian lifestyle has never once appealed to me. I live for delicious turkey sandwiches, and I’m really not willing to give that up. However, I live in New York, and when the pandemic hit, I decided to go spend a month living with a friend in Washington, D.C.. My friend happens to be a vegetarian. Rather than make different meals every time we ate, I decided it would be easier to simply adopt her eating habits. If you’re wondering how your body will react to cutting meat out of your diet or how difficult it was to supplement protein, I decided to do a little experiment. Here’s what happened.
My typical Monday through Friday breakfast didn’t usually contain meat, so giving up meat wasn’t too difficult in the AM. However, when I first arrived, I was eating cereal while my friend was drinking a smoothie. I was hungry within two hours while she was full enough to not eat lunch until later in the afternoon. I switched over to a protein-packed smoothie, which revolutionized how I ate for the rest of the day. The smoothie consists of banana, spinach, almond milk, peanut butter, ice, and protein powder. The vegan protein powder replaces the need for animal products while also helping to keep you feeling full.
Truvani: Plant-Based Protein (click here)
This is where I started to miss the meat in my diet. On a typical day, I would make a turkey sandwich or a salad with chicken for lunch. However, because our breakfast kept us feeling full, we ate lunch later in the day. Starting the day with protein allowed us to keep our lunch meal on the lighter side. If we had a salad, we made sure to incorporate avocado and almonds to add protein and healthy fats. Pro tip: Season your greens! Add salt, pepper, or whatever seasoning you enjoy most to liven up your salad – this revolutionized my lunch.
This is where the desire for meat really hit me hard. Normally, I would have been eating chicken, steak, fish, or any other meat option with a veggie or over rice. Living as a vegetarian, we had to get a little more creative to keep the meals interesting. The use of grains became very important in our dinners. We often made bowls with a rice or quinoa base. Then we packed them with veggies, and sometimes even meat substitutes. Another go-to was to get creative with pasta salads and veggie burgers. The key here is to make sure to mix things up to avoid redundancy. After a bit of trial and error, I feel Trader Joe’s has the best meat substitutes, and in some cases, I honestly couldn’t tell the difference.
After 30 days of living as a vegetarian, I will incorporate some of my newly-learned habits into my daily life, starting with that delicious smoothie. Applying some of the vegetarian practices will help me lead a healthier lifestyle with fewer fats and carbs. Overall, I lost seven pounds by changing my diet for one month and keeping up my regular exercise routine. That’s reason enough to consider making a few simple swaps, right?