Going Vegetarian for a Week

By Marlena B. ’20

Let me get a few things straight before I begin to chronicle my week of vegetarianism: I love food, I love eating, and I love being full. I also enjoy cracking a few good jokes at the expense of my vegan and vegetarian friends and my mom who works at a (wait for it)… raw vegan food store!* I was met with various levels of support when I mentioned my article idea to friends and family: my mother, who was not only optimistic in her hopes for my success but also generously offered to cook vegetarian for me this week; the selfless friends who offered to test the strength of my resolve by chasing me around with meat during this next week’s lunches (yes, this happened multiple times). Needless to say, I’m fairly sure this week will be challenging for me.

All jokes aside, I really do respect a lot of the commitment and reasoning behind being a pescatarian, vegetarian, vegan or having other dietary restrictions for personal, religious or other reasons. Additionally, our family is actually fairly conscience of our food choices with organic, seasonal produce, minimal red meat, and humanely raised meat and eggs when possible. My mom even makes fresh almond milk sometimes.

Really, I’m most curious about how difficult vegetarianism is as personally, when I hear someone say that they’re a vegetarian or vegan or otherwise my first response is “I could never do that.” For me, this week’s ultimate goal is to see if your average meat-eater would be able to achieve the lofty goal of vegetarianism without major peril or existential crisis, even for such a short time span. For me, this week is meant more as a challenge to my resolve and to see if I can actually do it, rather than an experiment to eat healthier or to alter my “lifestyle”.  

*In case you were wondering, “raw vegan” indicates that the food in question is prepared without the use of heat. This means there’s only cold pressed olive oil and “naan bread” made from dehydrated celery, cumin, parsley, olive oil and salt. There are also a lot of blended raw almonds used in their “cheesecakes” and other desserts. I promise that a lot of the foods (think smoothies, cookies and salads) are actually quite delicious!

 

Sunday (Day 1):

Breakfast:

Ok, you caught me! I didn’t actually begin my vegetarian journey with breakfast. I originally planned to start my last day of Thanksgiving break with chia seed pudding and fruit but was derailed by the arrival of my sister, Julia. Julia whipped up omelets for the entire family complete with turkey sausage in it. Who was I to refuse this amazing creation? I told myself this was my last hurrah.

Lunch:

I didn’t eat lunch (oops) as I woke up very late and breakfast (I suppose at that point it’s brunch or even lunch) ended up being around 12:30.

Dinner:

Yes! I finally did it; I had my first official vegetarian meal of the week! Dinner was a pureed carrot soup with honey and lemon, sauteed romano beans, and bread. I really enjoyed the soup in particular, it wasn’t too “carroty” (I’m not a big proponent of cooked carrots) and to my surprise, it was fairly filling. I must add that it was a little painful to see my parents enjoying their wild Alaskan salmon but hey, I lived to tell the tale.

Monday (Day 2):

Breakfast:

I made some chia seed pudding the night before. It’s two cups of almond milk and just under ½ a cup of chia seeds that you let sit for about 30-40 minutes. I recommend it.

Lunch:

Quite frankly, this was easy despite a heap of chicken thrown onto my plate (twice). There was pasta with tomato sauce and a side of vegetables.

Dinner:

Thai red curry stew. It was good, and I helped make it so that was fun. Enough said.

Tuesday (Day 3):

Breakfast:

I had a frozen waffle, fruit, and one of these vegetarian sausages that I’ve been eating my entire life. I think they must be introduced at a young age for a person to enjoy them because none of my friends have liked them when they tried them out.

Lunch:

Well, I am having a hard time remembering this lunch. I’m sure it was tofu, maybe with some sort of curry on top. I do recall thinking it was good and flavorful.

Dinner:

I had just had my first soccer game of the season and wanted meat really badly. I resisted the urge ate some nice artichoke and sundried tomato pizza from Blueline and was proud of myself for not sneaking some meat onto my plate.

Wednesday (Day 4):

Breakfast:

I had an egg on toast with avocado for late start. It was really good albeit a “basic California girl” meal. This is one of my favorite breakfast foods. Surprise!

Lunch:

To everyone’s happy surprise, there was pizza and salad for lunch! Go Crystal! I had the vegetarian pizza and was a happy camper.

Dinner:

I had pasta with zucchini and yogurt. This is actually a pasta my family eats frequently. Having a meal that seemed very normal for our household really drove home the point for me that vegetarianism is both attainable and tasty.

zucchini pasta.jpg

Thursday (Day 5):

Breakfast:

More chia seed pudding. I think I’ll be eating a lot of this even after the week is over!

Lunch:

I made a salad for lunch! When I have a salad at Crystal it’s usually a chicken Caesar, which is nowhere close to being vegetarian. I made a funky salad with a menagerie of ingredients that I do not care to remember. I’ll be more conservative with my salad additions next time.

Dinner:

My mom and I made a quick couscous salad with hazelnuts, grapefruit oranges, and arugula. Once again, vegetarianism can be accessible, tasty and simple.

Friday (Day 6):

Breakfast:

Lunch:

I made another salad for lunch. It was mixed greens with garbanzo beans, brussel sprouts, and tofu with the soy ginger dressing and was much better than my previous attempt. I would make that salad for myself even after I’m done with this week of vegetarianism.

Dinner:

I ordered chinese takeout with my family. I was immensely saddened by my inability to consume any soup as all their bases were chicken broth (this was a common issue for me through the week). However, I ended up full and happy after eating a healthy serving of veggie chow fun and roasted garlic eggplant.

Saturday (Day 7):

Breakfast:

I had yogurt with frozen bananas and walnuts, plus some toast with jam and fruit. Breakfast was easy and tasty. Yay!

Lunch:

I made some vegetarian ramen with green onion, egg and seaweed and vegan ramen broth from Ocean’s Halo (one of the owners is actually a Crystal parent).

Dinner:

My second to last vegetarian meal! It would be my last if I had actually started on Sunday morning but since I was derailed my turkey sausage I decided to stick with it until the next Sunday morning instead. My final vegetarian dinner was a margherita pizza from Rise. It was one of only two vegetarian red sauce pizzas on their menu and though good, I would rather spend my money on something a little more special when I eat out. As a side note, I normally don’t eat this much pizza and having it three times this week was quite an anomaly for me.

Sunday (Day 7? 7.5?):

Breakfast:

The final meal. Breakfasts were always the easiest meal for me and this was no different. My mom made a veggie scramble, and I made some pumpkin ginger pancakes. Both dishes were very, very good. A fine final meal indeed!

Final Thought and Impressions:

 

  1. Was being vegetarian really that hard?

Honestly, it wasn’t. The only time my resolve was really tested was when bacon was thoughtfully placed on my plate during Friday’s lunch and after my first soccer game of the season. However, I found that one drawback of vegetarianism was eating out; it took more effort than usual to eat out and there are other ways in which I would prefer to spend my money at a restaurant. However, I thought that eating at school and home were not nearly as difficult as I had first thought. Crystal has a great selection of food, and I will even consider eating some of the vegetarian offerings after my dedicated vegetarian week is over.

Really, I think that finding and making a satisfying and tasty vegetarian meal is as easy or hard as you make it; there are so many great resources, ingredients and food to be discovered. I was also pleasantly surprised to find that a lot of the meals that I already ate on a regular basis were vegetarian (especially my breakfasts) or there were meals that could easily become vegetarian. I will say that if I didn’t have my mom to make dinner and come up with great recipes, my week would have been so much harder. Thank you, Mom!

2. Would I want to continue being a vegetarian?

I don’t think I would want to continue being a vegetarian full-time. As I mentioned before, finding food I felt was worth spending money on when I did eat out was difficult as eating at a restaurant is usually when I order my most meat-heavy dishes. It was also a burden to my mom who cooks 98% of the meals in our household. That being said, I am still planning on eating vegetarian for four to six meals a week as I thought it was very doable to achieve at Crystal and forced me to try some new and different foods I wouldn’t normally eat.

 

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