Tuesday, September 10, 2013

I'm Going Vegetarian. Starting Now.

I have friends who are vegetarians and vegans, and they've got good reasons for their dietary habits — the health benefits, protesting the way meat is manufactured, animal rights in general. While going vegetarian is something that I've always wanted to try, I have to admit that I didn't necessarily have a good reason for wanting to do it. Sure, Babe is cute, but he is also delicious. When thinking about not eating meat, it has always been more about the challenge (like that week I went vegan) than for any one particular reason.

A couple of weeks ago, I started thinking that I should go ahead and give this particular challenge a try. I ultimately decided against starting now, because in order to give it the full three months I had specified in my Life List, that means I'd have to be vegetarian on Thanksgiving. I didn't particularly want to do that. So I put the idea out of my mind with the intention to revisit it after New Year's, when there are less meat-eating holidays in the foreseeable future.

Then yesterday, I was prepping some meat for dinner. I'd found a Crock Pot recipe for cornish game hens, which is something I had never tried. The recipe said that if you wished, you could skin the birds with poultry shears. I don't particularly like skin on my chicken — I usually buy boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs — so I went to work cutting the skin off the hens.

And as soon as I made that first cut, I started to feel nauseous. Here I was, peeling the skin off a bird that still looked like a bird; it wasn't just breast meat or drumsticks. These things could totally have been alive if they'd had heads or, you know, innards. And I thought, "If I were dead, I really wouldn't want someone peeling off my skin."


I had never had such a visceral reaction to meat before. That nauseated feeling stuck with me for a good while, to the point where I wasn't even sure that I wanted to eat the meal I'd just spent time preparing. For the first time in my entire life, the smell of meat cooking was unappealing. When the birds were done, I took a couple of hesitant bites, and even eating that much was more than I really wanted to consume. I filled up on rice and broccoli, and confessed to Matt that ripping skin off the dead birds had kind of ruined them for me.

So as of today, I'm officially off meat. I haven't decided yet if that includes seafood. I'm also not sure if this will be an only-three-months thing or a permanent thing. I guess we'll see.

I do most of the cooking in our house. Any suggestions as to how to feed a husband that is still a carnivore if you are a vegetarian? What are your favorite meatless meals?

P.S. I'm not preggers. I know someone out there was thinking it.

21 comments

  1. Allie - this is awesome! I am loving all the initiative and gumption and bravery that Blogtember is bringing to the interwebs! Also, this little tidbit made me giggle: "Sure, Babe is cute, but he is also delicious." Haha. And now that we've got that out of the way, I just wanted to say that you are a much stronger woman than I think I could ever be, and I admire you for this, and the thought of peeling the skin off a cornish game hen makes me a bit queasy...but I think that's to be expected. Go you!

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  2. Wow, big decision! I'm happy to cut up turkies and chickens and still eat them. But you do what you have to do! Have fun vegeting. :)

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  3. Jason is a meat-eater and I'm veg and do most of the cooking. What we do is I make a meal plan for the week, and if he wants to supplement any meals with meat, he is welcome to do so by cooking it himself. That way he still gets meat if he wants it, and I don't have to deal with prepping the raw meat myself. He also really likes some of the "fake meat" items, especially the ground "beef" crumbles (we use Boca brand) -- maybe try some of those and see if Matt likes them.

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    1. Good idea, I'll have to check out what my grocery store has. I've never tried fake meat except for this one time at a vegan restaurant in Oklahoma where I had a "facon"-lettuce-tomato sandwich!

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  4. Welcome! I decided to go vegetarian after having a similar reaction to prepping my first ever Thanksgiving turkey. I have compiled soooo many delicious vegetarian recipes on my pinterest boards: http://pinterest.com/kateophalen/boards/

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    1. Whoa, you weren't kidding! Thanks so much for linking!

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    2. No prob! Happy to help if you have any questions. Tofu is delicious when prepared well, as are many of the fake meat products, although we don't use them much. Good luck! I'm going on a year and a half now.

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  5. I love meat way too much to give it up entirely, but I do try and mostly get it from a responsible local butcher who sources it from local farms, so it is all ethical.

    I'm not particularly squeamish about prepping meat either, but I will admit I've had a few wobbles with fish! There was the time I bought a whole fish and thought I'd have to gut it myself (I didn't, phew!). Then there was the time my Dad bought me some fresh mussels and I realised as I was preparing them that they were STILL ALIVE (although that didn't stop me from eating them, but they took so long to do that I was just grumpy by the end of it). And then there was the time with the mini-squids, and it took me and my boyfriend both to prep them and we both kept winding each other up over the tentacles.

    So we've stopped being so adventurous with the fish.

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    1. I made mussels one time. It is one of only two meals I've ever made that Matt flat-out refused to eat. It would freak me out to prep live seafood too, I think. But on Sunday night I made shrimp, and I peeled and deveined those with no problem.

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    2. Yeah, bizarrely I've got no problem with prawns. Like, I can eat those grilled in-shell and peel them no worries. And I can eat mussels out of the shell fine too, once they're cooked!

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  6. Wow, this is very cool! And I need to check your blog posts before I email you, since we've been talking about BBQ! :P I like meat, but I'm more of a sides person when it comes to a meal like Thanksgiving. I usually buy the boneless, skinless chicken breasts, too. Once, my husband bought some rib meat chicken on sale, and he had to cut it apart for me, since I couldn't handle it. My dad grew up on a farm, but I just shop at HEB. :P

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  7. Can't wait to follow along with you! I always said I would have become a vegetarian if I were forced to prepare raw chicken. I still refuse to cook most meat, but that's also partly b/c I'm bad at it. I would be totally fine being an at-home vegetarian and only eating meat at restaurants and other people's houses!

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    1. Matt used to make fun of me in college because the only way I knew how to brown ground beef was in the microwave. I had never learned how to do it properly on the stove!

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  8. Good for you! When I was in elementary school my family ate vegetarian for several years, mainly for health reasons. I was the kid at school with weird stuff in her lunches :) I'm not vegetarian anymore, but some of the habits stuck with me. I use almond milk, and I occasionally eat veggie dogs (but I never really liked real hot dogs anyway). If you need some motivation to stick with it, I'd suggest checking out some of the Netflix food documentaries. I've seen a couple, and they're pretty interesting!

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  9. I am so, so with you. Dara is indifferent towards meat and will take it or leave it (he even requests veggie meals fairly often!), whereas I am nauseated by the thought of slaughtering animals. And for some reason, eggs weird me out a little too, although I still cook with them/eat them. We eat meat occasionally (2-3 times a week, I'd say) but I was a vegetarian for 6 years and I can totally relate. I'll message you some of my favorite vegetarian recipes, there are so many out there! The important thing is to keep up the protein intake and to not binge on carbs. Lately my favorite source of protein is quinoa :)

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  10. P.S. I was totally thinking that. :P

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    1. Psh, if I was, this would NOT be the way I'd let you know.

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  11. I could probably go vegetarian out of sheer laziness and cheapness (meat is expensive and a pain to cook, yo!), but hubs would be grumbly. If I am making a meal that doesn't have meat, it always has some sort of protein - usually beans or eggs - in it in place, so it still feels filling. I'm also a big fan of easy crockpot recipes that make a TON of meat - maybe Matt could learn one or two of those, freeze a bunch of leftovers and heat up when it goes with the meal.

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  12. I am this way every time I cook meat, but my husband could never go meat free, so I try to find recipes that I can add meat to easily. Also, black beans are my favorite food ever, so versatile and delicious!

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  13. Welcome to the veg club. ;) I went plant based last year for the health benefits and have felt SOOO much better since. I can relate to how you felt about skinning the chicken. Similar thing with a turkey was what triggered my change in diet. If you like documentaries there are a couple that I thought were wonderful; Veducated, Food Inc. and Forks Over Knives. Talk about eye opening.

    And as far as meals, I found that what works best for us is if I make the usual side dishes (potatoes, rice, veggies, etc) and to whatever starch I am making I add beans, lentils or sometimes grilled tofu for my protein and then a grilled chicken or steak for my husband. That way I don't have to cook two whole complete meals.

    Also my fav meal is called bliss in a dish (http://plantpoweredkitchen.com/chickpea-artichoke-bliss-dish-vegan/). It's a one dish meal (minus any meat you cook). Try it with the cannellini beans and parsley version. It's also great with just about any combination of veggies in your fridge. I did it with eggplant and squash a couple weeks ago.

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