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.