Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Why I Went Vegetarian: An Evolving Tale

Three questions I get asked most are: 1. Do you have loose skin? 2. How did you get started? 3. Why are you a vegetarian?

Answers: 1: Yes (see “Closer to Accepting The ‘Flabby Bits’”). 2: See “How, When, Loving Yourself, and Other Thoughts” (scroll down the page, it's there toward the end). 3: It keeps evolving. Here’s why.

By the time I ate meat for the last time (a strip of Trader Joe’s turkey bacon) nearly two years ago, I’d come to realize how meat-centric I was, focusing entirely too much on tuna, chicken, turkey, and the occasional pork product. I felt confined in my eating habits, merely glancing at black/cannellini/garbanzo/soy bean recipes and thinking about trying curry and other non-staple spices. I was stuck in a “meat box.”

I loved vegetables, but never ventured far from the usual, and only to cook them by boiling the crap out of them before throwing some butter and pepper on top. Not that there’s anything wrong with that if that’s the only way to get you to eat veggies. But for me, the rotation of peas, carrots, corn, broccoli, peas, carrots, corn, green beans, peas, carrots, corn, Brussels sprouts was making me bang my head against the refrigerator.

My food choices were as boring as our dog Mathilda, whose idea of fun is to roll on dead fish at the lake (true story). Meat mind overshadowed a world of alternative foods and spices. This is in contrast to the many people I know who eat meat and still think broadly about their food choices. I’d just never grown out of my meat-and-potatoes roots until I went vegetarian.

Anyway, here I am, two years into this no-meat experiment and I have at least a two-year backlog of recipes to try, thanks to a plethora of vegetarian cookbooks and bloggers like Veggie Venture and FatFreeVegan. There’s no room for meat in my diet for awhile.

I try to make at least one new recipe a week. This week I whipped up curried lentils. Next week, it’s Spicy Collards and Black Eyed Pea Soup.

I also make an effort to try new vegetables. I had no idea I loved fennel, bok choy or beet greens. Now, after flipping through Arthritis Today last week and reading “Weird, Wonderful Vegetables,” I’m ready to give Jerusalem artichokes, celery root, and kohlrabi a try. The article offers some general preparation guidelines, but do you have a favorite recipe?

I’m doing the same thing with fruit. Because I limit my fruit consumption to no more than two servings a day, I try to pick just the right fruit for my mood. After reading about ugli fruit, I’ve decided to buy one as soon as I find one. They’re in our local Wal-Mart – I’ve seen it – but like pomegranates and papayas and star fruit in the past, I ignored it because it was different. But since going vegetarian, I’ve found that different is good. Different is fun. Different can be exciting.

Are you now or have you ever been in a “food box”? Some kind of food rut? I’d love to hear your strategies for escape.

24 comments:

  1. Hi, there! Aa vegetarian for almost 15 years and now a vegan for 1, I say YAY!!
    I'm just wondering why you limit your fruit to just twice a day? I hope this is not too nosy of a question!!

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  2. Many changes I've made: going from meat centric to veggie centric is likely never gonna be one of them. LOL That said, congrats! I DO admire vegetarians!

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  3. Hi, Lolly. That's not a nosy question at all! I find that when I eat more than two fruits in a day, I get...how do I say this delicately?...bloated LOL I have to be mindful of those kinds of sugars. Same with whole grains. I'd LOVE to eat more than two servings a day, but I don't usually because of the same kind of "issue." I never realized how sensitive my body was to these kinds of foods until I started really paying attention. Hope this answers your question. Congrats on your 1-year vegan status, too! Like Sunny in her comment said she admires vegetarians, I admire vegans!

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  4. Guess I am lucky that fruits and whole grains don't cause bloat for me. Although beans and brussel sprouts do.

    I find inspiration from other healthy living blogs to get out of ruts (hello chicken, broccoli, and strawberries for dinner 7 times a week!).

    However, studies have shown that if you eat at least one meal of the day as pretty much the same thing all the time, it is easier to lose and keep weight off.

    Your top 3 questions sound a lot like mine. Maybe you need an FAQ tab on the top of your blog?

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  5. Timely post for me as I was just thinking yesterday that I as going to email you and ask you about your 'flabby bits'. So many people seem to be having surgery to remove excess skin and it got me thinking. In the past I've always said my flabby bits were my badges of courage - or honor.

    Well, I'm off to read the post about your flabby bits. Thanks for everything, Lynn.

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  6. Lori, sadly I don't know how to post a FAQ on the top. Blogger won't let me add anything to the bar on top. I want more functionality in this blog but I don't know what (cheap) provider to go with. Any ideas?

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  7. Fab post Lynn. I like how it's a evolving relationship...

    I love kohlrabi slaw - http://www.dietgirl.org/dietgirl/2006/05/mighty-sputnik.html

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  8. I do get in food ruts (hello ginormous salad) but they are much healthier than my past ruts of fast food. And I go on jags with certain veggies. Usually reading what other bloggers are eating inspires me to try something different. I finally bought a grill pan after looking for a decently-priced one since last summer, and am excited to try grilling asparagus on it - I'll let you know how it turns out!

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  9. I think I'm becoming vegetarian just based on the wonderful products that boca and gardenburger has to offer. Lower in fat and calories, high in protein and it's stuff that my kids love. I was making a lot of chicken for a while but then I got tired with it and rather than backsliding to red meat I went to the vegetarian/soy products and really I don't see any reason to hold onto meat.

    I just feel better not eating that stuff.

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  10. i seem not to pay much attention to being stuck in a food box. when i lived with my family - that was one box, which i still come back to when visiting mom. with my ex BF it was a different box. now that i live alone, i also seem to have a rut.

    having friends over or visiting helps a lot. i often rediscover lots of "new" old stuff that i somehow miss out on.

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  11. I do get in food ruts all the time. Like cottage cheese. For a while I couldn't imagine running out of it! (We won't mention the cool whip lite rut...)

    As far as meat and veggies go, I have gone from being a real meat lover (I mourned when I had to eat smaller portions of meat when I started losing) to not minding or hardly noticing at all if I have a day without meat. Now, though, what I find myself paying attention to is: did I have at least one serving of meat today. Because I am not a fan of the bean, and I am pretty sure I will not get enough protein without at least one small serving of meat.

    I am not as adventurous as you about veggies and fruit. But I am WAY more adventurous than I used to be. And I am going to try those rutabegas the next time I go to the store!

    I don't know if you've tried wordpress.com, but I love it. Tons of themes to choose from, and each one has a different format and different 'widgets' that you can choose from. I don't know if they allow advertising though.

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  12. Just a word of warning about Jerusalem artichokes. They are scrumptious, especially in soup (or use them wherever and however another person might use potatoes). However, at our house we call them Jerusalem FARTichokes. For a reason.

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  13. South American SlimmerJanuary 13, 2010 at 7:29 PM

    Didn't mean to go anonymous with my last question. The Jerusalem artichokes aren't potent enough to require total anonymity!

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  14. Okay so this is unrelated, but can I say how psyched I am that you have a facebook page! There are so many people I want to connect with. I am going to have my friend help me set mine up. There are too many people I want to connect with. And maybe I can meet my husband via facebook! (Heck, online dating is not working so well, and I have heard people connect via facebook!)

    Okay sorry for the unrelated comment, but I really do like the fact that you are on facebook!

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  15. I also found once I started paying attention to what I was eating I found ruts - mine was around bread and all related baked goods, I just lived on them and couldn't ever imagine how I could be satisifed (as in really content with a meal) without them. Now I rarely eat bread or any baked goods and find when I do I bloat in the most horrible way! Ditto with the fruit, I have found cutting back to two a day really works for me. However, what I have found, much to me astonishment, I not only love a wide variety of veges now I actually crave them if I haven't been eating as many as usual for any reason (usually to do with travelling). For someone who did Atkins enthusiastically because she never cared if she ever ate a vege this is truly a transformation! I do find I eat the same things for weeks on end, especially for lunch, as it makes the morning grab and go after exercise much quicker. I prepare my food the night before as I don't have to make decisions in the morning while rushing. I get ideas from blogs or going back through my food diaries and then latch on to another idea for a few more weeks. I am still deciding if I can learn to love my loose skin or whether to take the surgery route....

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  16. some days I think I live in the aforementioned rut.
    I get sooo focused on not letting my child reside in the ruttage I get stuck there.
    and then I remember and YANK MYSELF OUT.

    Its funny how I can remember to do unto others (hello husband!) yet forget myself.

    sign me:

    huge carnivore :)

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  17. http://www6.netrition.com/bell_plantation_pb2.html

    Sharla just found this site that carries PB2. Are you familiar with the site? it looks like the PB2 shipping prices are a lot lower. or do you have a local store that now carries it for you?

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  18. Hi Lyn,
    I am still at the early days of my journey. I dont know if I havent been able to find the post but a question that came to mind was that of exercise. What has been your exercise plan during the early days of your weightloss days and did that increase as you kept losing the weight? How do you reach your daily protein levels? Did you use any protein shakes etc?
    I must compliment you on your wonderful blog as I have followed it since the last few weeks and it is well written and so very informative!!
    Cheers
    Tara

    http://dietadventures-currymunchin.blogspot.com/

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  19. Thanks for the heads up about the "fart"achokes! LOL I'll be sure to consume them when I'll be alone for a good long while.

    Pilbara Pink, I still and always will crave and want bread and everything bread related. I just have to get all mom on my ass and say NO. Once in awhile, yes, but boy, I know where you're coming from.

    Thanks for the link, Vickie! I'll check it out. I'm all for saving money on shipping.

    Tara, I didn't start a formal exercise program until I'd lost more than 100 pounds. As for protein, I get more than enough from egg whites, soy milk, cheese, beans, veggies, etc. I've never had a protein shake and (not that I'm opposed to them) never will. I hope you find a good balance for your needs. Let me know what you come up with! Thanks so much for finding my blog and for the comment.

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  20. Do you actually track your protein amounts or just try to eat the foods you listed? Some protein at each meal?

    Are you worried about soy/breast cancer?

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  21. I don't eat enough soy to worry about the breast cancer risk. Just a little milk, maybe some edamame a few times a week. I don't do "fake" meat or cheese. Tofu maybe once every two months.

    As for tracking my protein, I'm a ballpark kinda gal. I aim for protein at every meal, particularly breakfast. A yogurt smoothie or egg white omelet with cheese usually. Hope this answers your question, 45!

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  22. I have enjoyed your blog for a long time since I saw it when you were featured in was it People magazine? Anyways, I am restarting WW and have always wondered. After years of maintaining do you count points, or something else?

    Thank you for being an inspiring example to me. I have more hope when people like you share your success.
    Thanks,

    Jenny <------working on being a vegetarian ;)

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  23. Hi,

    For Jerusalem artichokes i recommnend roasting them in a medium hot oven with a drizzle of olive oil and serving them alongside other roasted veg. I wouldn't cook a large portion for the first attempt as the texture can be a bit overwhelming at first.

    Kohlrabi I love raw. Peeled and cut in chunks,to eat like an apple. I used to take them to school as snack. So refreshing!

    Let me know what you think!

    Lips

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  24. Thanks, Lips! I'll give both a try as soon as I find them. The kohlrabi looks really bad right now in our grocery store. Probably will have to wait until farmer's market this spring and summer.

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