Surviving going vegetarian for a month
By Cazzy Lewchuk, Staff Writer
November is often seen as a month of disappointment and change. While others are busy mourning the loss of Halloween, writing rushed novels, and remembering the veterans and victims of war, I chose to make this month stressful in my own way: by becoming a temporary vegetarian. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t eat meat for more than a day or two. I also don’t cook much, eat a lot of take-out/fast food, and don’t even really like that many vegetables. My ultimate goal in this challenge is to re-evaluate what’s in my diet and why, understand the importance of balanced nutrition, and learn better tactics for preparing or obtaining nutritious meals. It’s going to be a lot more work to prepare a plant-based lunch instead of grabbing it from Wendy’s across the street at work, but ideally, I’ll be better off for it. I could always order one of their vegetarian options, but I’m trying to better myself—not replace bad meat-food with bad veggie-food.
I decided before the month started that there was no way I was going vegan or planning on making a lot of vegan meals. While going vegan has lots of merit, it’s simply too hard for me to survive this without relying on animal by-products. Maybe I’m just lazy; maybe I’m the product of a Western country that relies largely on meat and its derivatives for sustenance. Either way, things like cheese and eggs will be my way of feeling full and a little closer to my carnivorous roots.
One thing any vegetarian or vegan quickly learns is the sheer judgement from those around them. After announcing my plan on Facebook, I got a lot of comments questioning my ability to eat healthily on such a diet, as if there aren’t millions of people around the world who do just fine not eating meat. I also noticed debates in the comments from those who are vegan/vegetarian debating the health, ability, and genital size of meat eaters. I thought balanced meals can take many forms and are not based on a certain diet, but apparently, those who do not follow your own personal food choices are completely wrong. There’s obviously a lot of misinformation floating around on both sides.
On the first day, I stocked up at Safeway on food that was not made out of animals. While I threw in a few unfamiliar fruits and vegetables, I mostly bought things I’m already comfortable eating: lots of yogurt, alfredo sauce, rice, bananas, beans, boil-in-the-bag Indian food, and, of course, perogies. I plan to play this by ear: start off with familiar foods/meals that I already eat, and move on to trying new meals once my body processes the shock of not having a slice of creature inside it.
I’m four days in as of the time of writing, and it’s still a challenging process. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I’ve been feeling fairly dizzy, confused, and like I’m missing something most of the time. This is most likely my own fault, and not a result of switching to vegetarianism; I’m still slowly learning how to prepare balanced meals, instead of “meals containing everything minus the meat I normally have in it.” I’ve never realized just how delicious the fries at A&W are on their own. I imagine I’ll get used to this in one way or another: either my body will give up and deal with the change by itself, or I’ll figure out through recipes how to actually make delicious and filling meals. Stay tuned.