Prior my husband moving in with me a few thousand years ago (or 10 but who’s counting) I had become a vegetarian; except when I went out to eat. This was for two reasons 1) handling raw meat kind of gives me the icks (also known as the heebie jeebies) 2) I was pretty broke.
When he moved in he demanded three things change 1) we have a TV 2) we have furniture over three feet tall* 3) we have meat available to eat. As the ever accommodating partner that I am (or stubborn strong willed. You say potato…) I only grudgingly gave into these things including having meat on the regular.
I continued to be kind of indifferent to meat. Yes, I have my days when I crave a hamburger or other meaty option but just as often I have a hankering for a veggie burger. As any good couple, my husband and I rubbed off on each other. I got him to eat more vegetarian meals and he got me to eat meat more often.
Now we fast-forward to June of this year. My husband and I tried not to eat meat for every single meal. We would do vegetarian Indian dishes one night and hamburgers the next. We had discussed the vegetarian diet numerous times but my husband felt he liked meat too much to give it up. Still it intrigued both us. We kept saying “sometime we should just try being vegetarian for a month.” Toward the end of June, we volunteered to bring food to our good friends who were having their second child and the woman is vegetarian. I was pulling up all my favorite vegetarian recipes trying to choose what I wanted to make. I causally said we should pick July to try to be vegetarian for a month and my husband agreed. And so it began.
The Pros of the Month:
1) It forced us to shake up our dinners: We had kind of been in a dinner doldrums. We had a lot of go to meals we made every week because they were easy and we couldn’t think of what else to fix. When we couldn’t have hamburgers or spaghetti with meat sauce, we had to shake things up. We tried a lot of new meals which were amazing.
Carrot & Garbanzo Bean Salad (cannot find actual recipe; was similar to this one)
We also realized Rao’s Roasted Eggplant Spaghetti Sauce was AMAZING with tofu instead of ground beef or ground turkey.
2) We discovered some new restaurants and food options out that we might have passed over if meat had been an option.
Doomies Home Cooking was great (though not super healthy)
True Food Kitchen was stupendous and much healthier and also had meat options.
3) We were mindful of the things we were eating in general. If you have any kind of restriction to your options, it makes you think about what you are going eat for sure.
The Cons of this Month
1) We discovered fast food is very geared toward meat eaters. I am not saying there aren’t fast vegetarian options but it is much easier to find fast food hamburgers.
We were running errands and ended up at the mall to pick up some contacts I had ordered at Lenscrafters and were all hungry (including our almost 2 year old. In case you don’t know toddlers do not handle hunger well!) We figured the food court had to have something. It turned out the pickings were slim! We settled on Frida Taco My husband and I got Calabasas Tacos, which were made with zucchini. I took our son to get a table and my husband waited for the tacos. When he eventually made it to the table I asked what took so long and he said they had to make the zucchini. Apparently we were the first people to order that option ever.
2) The Hollywood Bowl does not have a lot of vegetarian options.
My job had an event at the Hollywood Bowl, which included dinner. There were 6 meals options and only one was vegetarian. And I am not going to lie, it sucked. It didn’t taste bad but it was a sad pasta dish with some pathetic mushrooms and wilted spinach. Meanwhile my coworkers were noshing on amazing looking roasted chicken and thick cut pork chops. The only thing that saved our meal was a huge piece of cheesecake at the end.
3) People are very concerned when you decide to go vegetarian.
I didn’t mind the conversations it prompted but the initial reaction could be a bit off putting. “A whole month!” was something I heard often. There were definitely time that I didn’t feel like having an extended conversation about what I was eating.
4) I did not lose any weight.
I had hoped a side benefit of this experiment would be that I would lose weight. I did not. It turns out my favorite junk foods are vegetarian so it didn’t slow me down from some between meal snacking. That is something I just need to work on.
Overall it was a great experiment. The outcome has been that my husband and I have decided to become flexiterian. Basically keep eating mostly vegetarian and throw in meat but only very high quality meat on occasion. We both realized we don’t really need meat to get through the day and we like the idea of challenging ourselves to eat healthier and more sustainably.
As of today the challenge is over. I have an awful cold so I haven’t left the house or felt very hungry and therefore not eaten any meat yet. My husband ate sushi for lunch to break his meat fast but indicated it was not as amazing as he expected and he was happy to continue on without much meat in his diet.
* I am 5’3” so when I was living by myself, I outfitted my apartment in furniture that I could easily maintain/reach the top of. Apparently it made my 6’ tall husband feel like he had moved into Lilliput.