I told my friend Mike, a vegetarian for the past 10 years, that I am fully aware that I may be one of those annoying people walking up to him and saying "Hey have you tried breathing this oxygen stuff? It's fantastic!" I am surprised at how good some of the vegetarian options are, annoyed at the lack of fast food options and feel like telling everyone how easy it is! I have been fully vegetarian for a week, but been 80% vegetarian for three weeks. And yes, it's been surprisingly easy.
To sum up my experience so far, I don't really miss meat like I thought I would and I have lost 5 pounds.
Details, by way of addressing common Objections/Questions:
What am I eating? This really hasn't been as hard as I thought. A typical day consists of a protein shake for breakfast, orange for a mid morning snack, veggie burger (either from Burger King or a Morningside Black Bean burger with salsa), PB&J crackers for mid afternoon snack, salad with pan fried tofu for dinner. I have just started experimenting with tofu and been pleasantly surprised. It basically tastes like whatever seasoning I put on it but has a chicken like texture when cubed and pan fried. Last night I bought a General Tso's Chicken seasoning packet and just substituted the tofu for chicken. It was REALLY good. I served it over rice, with a fortune cookie on the side and I think even the most finicky eater would have liked it. It seems that every vegetarian sets a line for themselves...some still eat fish, some have binge days once a week, some called vegans, eat no animal products at all. My line is death....if an animal had to die for me to eat it, I won't. So that means I still eat eggs and cheeses and will have milk (though almond not cow). I did buy some Boca meat substitute and will use that in a Mexican way. But between the protein shake, the tofu, peanut butter and the fake meat, I am getting enough protein for sure. That seems to be people's number one concern, which is funny because it really is not a challenge at all to hit my daily recommended protein.
How am I feeling? This is a hard one for me to say exactly. I don't feel noticeably more tired or weak. I am taking an iron and potassium supplement (I was already doing that) and added in B12 since there are some concerns about not getting enough since that only comes from animal products. I did do a meat binge on the last day of the month to try to clear out my fridge and holy crap did I feel horrible. I haven't been running...schedule, rain, back pain and mostly laziness have gotten in the way, but I did do a 30 mile ride on Thursday. That was 10 miles more than I am used to and boy did I feel like crap at mile 25. It was also way faster than I am used to riding, so I think I felt so bad more because I am out of shape than because of my diet. Did I mention I also skipped breakfast that morning and had gotten drunk the night before? Overall I feel fine, my face has cleared up and I have lost weight. To be fair I am not sure how much of this is because of eating a vegetarian diet or due to NOT eating fried foods and sugars that my diet with meat contained.
Do I miss meat? Not really. I am kinda bummed that I JUST got my grill up and running and that made me crave a hamburger, but I am just going to get a recipe for a meatless burger and try that as well as grilling tofu. But for the actual meat, not really. I did have a craving for McD's the other day, but that really can't be counted as craving meat, and I ordered a small French fry and that did the trick. I think that there is a social aspect of meat that is there (I was able to eat bread rolls, salad and cake at a wedding this weekend) but I am not craving the taste of meat.
Is it more expensive? The jury is still out on this one. I have done one shopping trip and it cost me $53 and that should hopefully cover me to for two weeks. I would like to eventually get into the routine of going to the farmer's market each Friday and buying produce for the week, but am not there yet. I do need to find places that I can get more meat alternatives. I'd like to try the fake chicken and the seitan that I have read about but my local Wal-Mart does not have ANY vegetarian options and the Food Lion only has fake meat crumbles.
I am glad I am doing this for at least 4 months. I will be able to see if my body likes this lifestyle. Will keep you posted.