By: Kiana Keys
Five months into the vegetarian life and I’m loving it! Now that I’m officially beyond the difficult transition phase, I’m finally able to look back and appreciate my journey. No, I didn’t watch whatever documentaries that were out there saying not to eat meat. And no I’m not doing it to lose weight (although my pending “summer body” needs a kick-start right about now). But I did transition to be a healthier ME, in general. My journey was a lot easier than expected and now I’m able to reflect on my thoughts.
10 observations I’ve had since becoming a vegetarian
1. I rarely eat fried foods now. At least a third of my meals used to be fried: fried chicken, fried shrimp, especially french fries, which was a staple side-item I ate several times a week. But now that I’ve cut out burgers, hotdogs, chicken fingers, and basically everything with a drive-thru window, I rarely eat fries or anything breaded.
2. Less fast-food. There’s not a McDonalds, Wendy’s or Popeyes than can curb my appetite. No more late-night fast-food runs, no more impulsive stops through hole-in-the-wall chicken shacks to satisfy an instant craving, and very little snacking on the go. All of those things were causing my diet to plummet and up-and-coming “summer body” to take a rain-check.
3. Decreased random eating. Because I have fewer options, I rarely snack and eat outside of meals. All meals are carefully planned and well though-out. A vegetarian diet makes me more aware of what I’m eating and I have to be intentional about what I’m putting in my body.
4. Carbs and sugars are the devil! So here’s the thing. A lot of us vegetarian rookies end up substituting meat for carbs and sugars. Do not try this at home! It’s better to substitute the meat with more veggies instead. If you’re confused about how many veggies, use this rule-of-thumb: half of your plate should be comprised of vegetables.
5. Pizza isn’t a good meat replacement. Pizza is one of the few meals that makes me feel “normal” again. In fact, I order it at least once a week. But don’t be fooled! All the veggie toppings in the world don’t make it healthy. Pizza is a dangerous optical illusion!
6. A lot of pasta isn’t good either. But it’s so yummy! My pasta recipes have increased since becoming a vegetarian and I must get control of it! Refer to #4 regarding carbs and sugars.
7. Weight gain can be a side affect if you’re not careful with numbers 4, 5 and 6. I gained 6 lbs within the first 3 months because unintentionally transitioned into a carb-based diet instead of a veggie-based one. It’s easy to drop the meat and add carbs on a quest to get full. The problem is with assuming that vegetarian = healthy. Vegetarian life can be healthy if you make it healthy.
8. Cheddar cheese has protein. When I realized that my protein intake took a hit when I cut out the meat, I started googling vegetarian foods with protein. When I came across cheddar cheese, I did my shoulder dance and thanked God for giving me favor (cheese is a staple diet in my world and I’m pretty sure I won’t survive this side of life without it).
9. Restaurant envy is real! As a foodie, It’s hard going out with a group of friends that are trying everything on the menu (that used to be me.) Now I’m stuck with only a few options and have envy big-time when someone orders a mouth-watering el pastor taco with cilantro and mini purple potatoes! Even typing that made me hangry. American restaurants are the hardest to enjoy because most of the choices are meat-based. Sometimes I want something besides a salad!
10. Wine is vegetarian-approved. Good thing I didn’t have to give up my adult-based fruit salad!