12 Days a Vegetarian
February 15, 2018
Is your New Year’s resolution to change the way you eat? If so, you’re in luck. No need to scour the internet and your local grocery store to find a suitable diet because I’ve already done that for you.
For twelve days, I have researched and participated in three branches of the vegetarian lifestyle. I started out this journey with the normal teenage diet; whatever looks and tastes good, I ate. Burgers, steaks, fried chicken, I love it all. Before beginning this journey I thought I knew everything there is to know about being vegetarian, but I was completely wrong. Being a vegetarian does not mean you have to eat like a rabbit after all. In fact, I’ve found and made more tasty meals then I ever have before. They are all included in my meal plan, which is basically a list of everything I ate during the 12 days.
My first four days were the pescitarian diet. Pescitarians do not eat any meat besides fish and crustacean. In some cases, pescitarians stay away from any animal by product including eggs and dairy. For me, I stuck with morning omelets and milkshakes. When starting to change your diet I highly recommend this branch of vegetarian.
If you’re into seafood, the change to pescitarian is very simple. If you are really craving red meat or chicken, a delicious piece of fresh fish over spaghetti and tomato sauce is a great alternative. Also, canned tuna fish is a great source of protein especially if you exercise regularly.
As I researched the pescatarian lifestyle, I began to wonder why people stay away from meat but still eat fish. I always believed vegetarians wanted to save animals in captivity, but fish are ripped from their homes, bred in captivity, and held in fish farms. After research I found that most pescatarians support that land animals cary toxins, uric acid and fecal bacteria. Not for the purpose of saving those “happy” farm animals we feed at the petting zoo.
It is important to know that being pescatarian does not entail eating fish every day. Although fish has a great supply of iron, pescatarians should be mindful of how much they consume. Ahi tuna, mackerel, shark, tilefish, and many other species are known to carry high levels of mercury. It may be better for pescatarians to get protein from nuts. My favorite go to snack during this time was roasted almonds with seasalt. Also, before and after working out peanut butter banana sandwiches are very filling and replenishing.
During my first two days without meat , it was very hard to stay away from it, being from an italian family. At a family birthday party, every dip had beef or chicken in it. It was extremely frustrating, in fact I made a note in my journal saying how hard it is being pescatarian. However, by the third day I quickly found alternatives for snacks and meals.
My original plan for this 12 day experiment was to go my second 4 days vegetarian. After hours of research, I realized how many branches of vegetarian there were, and that my previous diet, pescatarian is a branch of vegetarian as well. I had to pick another branch. My choice was ovo-vegetarian, which means no dairy or meat. A full chart of the vegetarian branches can be found here Vegetarian Chart .
I quickly had to shop for food that does not contain milk. I remembered that the grocery store Trader Joes has many options for vegans and vegetarians. I first made my way to the cheese section, because there is no way I could go four days without cheese. There were many alternatives such as almond cheese, soy cheese, and cashew cheese. There is also almost always an alternative for cream cheese, which works great for bagels, cream cheese, and many other recipes.
I found great recipes for the almond mozzarella cheese and assorted shredded soy cheese. Cheese quesadillas are extremely easy to make and delicious with diced bell pepper and avocado. They also have a great almond milk, with the Trader Joe’s label on it that is great for cooking and drinking straight. An alternative for butter was easy to find, and very inexpensive for the amount given (I recommend earth balance butter).
The easiest ovo-vegetarian meals for me were the scrambled egg an omelet dishes. I learned to add different vegetables and spices every time I made eggs. Diced bell peppers, asparagus, broccoli, potatoes, you name it. Also, a dash of cinnamon and sugar adds a little bit of sweetness to any egg dish. My favorite dish was the salsa omelet. The fresh cold tomatoes with the warmed omelet is irresistible.
The vegan lifestyle is made out to be hard and painful. When I first told my friends and family I was going vegan, they told me I could only eat vegetables and water. Although it is difficult to find food without dairy and eggs, the variety of vegan options has grown over the years. Brands such as Daiya , Danone’s , Annie’s , and many others carry vegan options that make being vegan addictive. That’s right, addictive.
After four days of no dairy eggs or meat, it took me another three or four days to eat anything other than vegan food. I felt comfortable, healthy, and energized. There were so many new and exciting options to choose from, I couldn’t stop!
There are thousands of vegan recipes on the internet, but I took it upon myself to try out my own recipes based off of things I normally cook. I came up with two recipes that worked out great; homemade white pizza, and homemade mac and cheese. I know it may not be the best way to cook, but I pretty much winged both recipes (not knowing anything about the ingredients). So do not be afraid to put your own style into the vegan diet.
One website I lived by was Peta . Peta stands for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Their website features a lot of tips on being vegan, along with information about the treatment of animals we eat and benefit from. They gave me a long list of alternatives to meat and foods that contain milk and eggs.
Most grocery stores have frozen pre-made meals that are very convenient for a vegan on the go. Making vegan meals can be very time consuming, so food companies have stepped up to create delicious meals for those living the vegan lifestyle. The brand Evol caught my eye quite often in ShopRite and Target. Most meals involve “meat”, which is mostly made of soy.
My personal experience with the vegetarian diet felt worth while. Now is a great time for a highschool student to try a different eating style. Especially for those going to college after they graduate, where it may be impossible to hit a grocery store for the right food.