I’m having a late lunch today, so I will post it tonight! In the meantime, check out these morning snacks!
I am down to my last Larabar. Must replenish stash stat!
A girlfriend of mine recently requested a specific blog topic and who am I to deny such a request? She is curious to know more about my vegetarianism – the whys, whens, and hows – so I thought I’d run through my history a bit and give some tips on how to be a healthy, frugal vegetarian. Because that is what I strive for…most of the time!
I became a vegetarian 10 years ago. My vegetarian-iversary is actually August 2000! It was the summer between high school and university and I was beginning to question things I hadn’t previously. I was learning about politics and social movements and vegetarianism came out of this learning curve too.
Throughout childhood, I was never a huge meat eater. I didn’t like meat loaf or sausages and I despised this thing called London Broil. Ick! But I’d eat chicken, hamburgers, and pepperoni. I wasn’t picky in most ways. I just ate what my family ate.
In my teens, thoughts of vegetarianism occasionally came to me and the diet and lifestyle definitely appealed. I didn’t give it too much thought until that fateful weekend in August when I realized I hadn’t eaten any meat the entire weekend. In fact, the last piece of meat I ate was veal! Yes, the last piece of meat to pass through these lips was baby cow. Pretty horrific, but a nice reminder of exactly WHY I became veg.
After that surprise weekend of meat-less eating, I just declared it. I was now, officially, a “vegetarian”. My parents didn’t think it would last and my mom was convinced I’d buckle on Thanksgiving, but I never did! I got through Christmas too and was well on my way to a vegetarian lifestyle.
I lost about 5 pounds when I became vegetarian, but I didn’t eat the most well-balanced foods. Things like tofu and veggie ground round weren’t as readily available, and soy hot dogs were absolutely gross back then! I probably got most of my protein through cheese. Once I moved out on my own and began doing more grocery shopping and cooking, I definitely ate more tofu and beans. I was able to experiment with different recipes and find out what worked for me.
Never once have I been tempted to eat meat. Once I became pregnant and decided to consume fish oil, I did contemplate trying salmon and other fish, but I still haven’t given in. I am actually a bit afraid! Afraid of the flavour and texture and how my stomach will react. It’s been so long since my body has processed animal flesh, that I’m afraid what it will be like.
Since I am a lacto-ovo vegetarian, I am still able to get animal protein from eggs and dairy. I have occasionally thought about giving these up too, but any chance of that has been put on the back burner while I’m pregnant. Plus there is this thing called “feta” that I am pretty much obsessed with.
Soy products have greatly improved in the 10 years of my vegetarianism. Soy hot dogs, hamburgers, ground round, “meat” slices, “chicken” nuggets all taste so much better than they used to, and are so easy to find! My only qualm about these products is that they are highly processed and highly processed. The only processed soy products I regularly buy, aside from basic tofu, are veggie ground round for tacos and spaghetti sauce, and soy burgers to cook on the barbecue.
I try to get most of my protein from dairy, eggs, beans, and lentils. For a frugal vegetarian, beans and lentils are your BFFs. I have only recently begun cooking with lentils and they are truly magical. First of all, they are cheap! You can buy them in bulk for mere pennies. Secondly, they cook quickly. Dried beans take much longer to soak and simmer. Thirdly, they have a great texture and take on flavour easily. My meat-eating husband has loved all lentil dishes I have made because they are as satisfying as eating meat products. Fourthly, and most importantly, they are so freaking healthy for you! The protein content is mind-boggling. If there was a way to put lentils in Green Monsters, you know I would!
I usually buy canned beans instead of dried because the dried are so time-consuming to prepare. I once tried making hummus with prepared dried beans and the texture just didn’t cut it. Some of my favourite frugal bean recipes include:
- Three bean salad
- Beans and rice
- Beans in baked pasta
- Vegetarian chili
Other great, frugal, vegetarian foods include quinoa (much lauded for its complete protein content), basic firm tofu, rolled oats, chia seeds, flax meal, and nuts. Nuts can be expensive, but you really only need 5-10 of each to feel satisfied. My favourites are walnuts and almonds especially for oatmeal and salad topping purposes.
I hope that this little diatribe has been helpful. I am by no means an expert, but after 10 years I have been around the meat-free block a few times. I know what keeps me full, satisfied, and not craving London Broil 🙂