My Month of Living Meatlessly

Whew! You guys have no idea how hard Vegetarian Month was for me! In the scope of Year of Months themes, it was easy in that I didn’t really have to do anything extra, but was hard in that I really wanted bacon.

I know some people were taking bets against me, but I did, in fact, make it the entire month without eating a single bite of meat or meat juices! *pause to pat myself on the back* I had a few almost-slip-ups, but managed to stop myself just in time:

  • On the 31st, the last day of the month, I was feeding Jasper the burnt parts of Chelsea’s grilled chicken sandwich at the farmer’s market, and almost licked the juices off my fingers! I stopped a few inches away from my mouth.
  • When I was home with my family, we had pizza. K always picks her pepperoni off (we also had cheese, which is what I ate) and I always eat it. I reached over, grabbed a piece of pepperoni, then immediately caught myself and dropped it like it was hot.
  • We did a soup, salad and breadsticks thing at work for a coworker’s birthday and my coworker Jen was kind enough to make the soup without chicken broth so that I could eat it (and it was delicious!).
  • When I was throwing a mock temper tantrum, trying to get K to make me some pancakes for dinner (I had a craving, ok? and she makes them better than me), I picked up a piece of Chelsea’s popcorn chicken and opened my mouth. Chelsea, not thinking, said, “You can eat it, I’m done.” K opened her eyes wide and said, “No! I’m making you pancakes!”

Around the middle of the month, it really started getting difficult. I am constantly surrounded my meat! My coworker was eating a tuna fish sandwich and I had to leave the area. When I went home to visit my parents, they made bacon for Saturday morning breakfast and the smell filled the house. We also had about a 40 minute discussion on Sunday, trying to figure out where to eat dinner that would have something I could eat besides salad (I really don’t care for salad. like, at all). After I got over that hump, I was pretty OK until K brought home Sweet & Sour Chicken and Pork Fried Rice at the end of last week for dinner. I was *thisclose* to cheating that night.

I did not eat any form of fake meat. Truthfully, I’ve always kind of objected to the idea. I like tofu and eat it from time to time – but not the kind that’s trying to take the place of meat. And I don’t have a problem with black-bean burgers, but a veggie burger? Not my thing.

In the true spirit of The Year of Months, this month opened my eyes to a lot of things. Most of my friends and family were pretty supportive; though my dad was seriously afraid that it would become a long-term thing (he doesn’t eat any meal without meat). I started seeing things a little differently:

  • I began to think of restaurants in terms of how many choices I had. Most of the time, they could be counted on one hand, if at all (looking at you, Applebee’s!).
  • I ate at Moe’s a lot, because it was one of the few places where I could get something low-calorie and meat-free quickly. One day I was there and had to wait in line for 13 minutes (no lie, I checked) because the guy in front of me ordered chicken and they had to cook it. So I sat there, watching my beans get cold. THEN, in their hurry, they dropped chicken in my burrito. I asked the girl to remove it and she gave me serious attitude – like I should be thankful for the piece of free chicken or something. I was a fake vegetarian and I was offended.
  • On the other hand, I was at the café at the Orlando library (which has about a gazillion vegetarian/vegan options, BTW) and ordered an egg and cheese sandwich. When the guy brought it to me, it had ham on it because he thought I had said “ham,” and I told him I was a vegetarian and he re-made the whole sandwich. Usually, especially in customer-service-deficient Orlando, they’ll try to pull the meat off and give it right back to you, but this guy even used a different croissant. I was impressed and touched by his thoughtfulness. Can you say “big tip”?
  • I also think that in restaurants where there are exactly zero vegetarian entrees (*cough* Applebees *cough*), you shouldn’t have to pay full price for an entrée sans meat. I know a big portion of the cost of the dish is the meat and they didn’t even increase the portion of the other stuff to make up for it.
  • Seriously, girl at that Mexican restaurant in Key Largo, how difficult is “I want this entrée, except with beans instead of steak” to understand?
  • When I worked third shift at Gaylord, I had to bring my lunch because there are some days where they’ll have nothing but three different kinds of meat entrees and French fries in the cafeteria. (The other shifts have many more options)
  • At many restaurants, they make the meals on the same grill (*cough* Pita Pit *cough*) and you are pretty much guaranteed to get meat juices on whatever you order.

I saw my vegetarian friend Todd on Saturday and he asked me how I was feeling. My response? “I feel like I want a burger.” But seriously, there were some days when I know I didn’t feel quite right and it was probably due to a lack of protein. I ate a lot of beans and eggs, but it’s still a challenge to get enough protein on a vegetarian diet. I lost 10 pounds in October, but that’s more as a result of my limiting of calories (actually harder to do as a vegetarian when you eat out as much as I do. All the low-cal dishes at restaurants are chicken or fish) than not eating meat.

I know I’ve been whining/complaining a lot in this post, so I’ll end on a positive note. Here’s a list of some of my favorite dishes this past month:

  • The lasagna at Olive Garden (not sure what it’s called) with like 6 different kinds of cheeses on it. Plus the breadsticks! YUUMMMM! Olive Garden is probably one of the most vegetarian-friendly major chains – not vegan though!
  • The Veggie Stir-Fry bento box at Bento. You get broccoli, carrots, bamboo shoots, snap peas and sprouts stir-fried in a garlic sauce, plus green beans, steamed rice, stir-fried noodles, a ginger salad and a little desert!
  • When I ate at home (I eat out a lot due to my super-busy lifestyle) I favored scrambled eggs, cheese and a spoonful of salsa all mixed up and stuffed in a pita.
  • The Art Vandalay at Moe’s was my stand-by for when I needed something quick.

In summary, I’m glad to have done it and to know that I did, but I don’t want to do it again 🙂

For those keeping track, October marks the END OF THE YEAR OF MONTHS!! However, I will be participating in NaNoWriMo again this year. I’ll probably do a year wrap-up later in the week

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