Meatloaf and mashed potatoes, Venison steak, and fried chicken—as a Midwest gal, I grew up with these hearty dishes. Savory emanating from the floor boards like the smell of beef chili on game day. Baskets of carbs and real, salted butter. Tall, frothy glasses of milk. Fireworks of bouillon. Moats of gravy.
Don’t even get me started on dessert.
I love food and it’s always loved me. My closet proves this. I have pants that range a handful of sizes. Depending on the season and the frequency of my workout routines, what needs covering melts away like an ice cream cone in summer or swirls into a nice peak and expands like homemade whipping cream. Thankfully, I have a husband who appreciates all of my forms in all of their seasons.
You Can Just Eat Plants? Gross.
After my carnivorous childhood, when I moved out on my own in college, my diet faltered. Mine was a rotating menu of Gardetto’s, SpaghettiOs, and ramen. I was the quintessential student who couldn’t afford to eat healthy and didn’t really care. I was still round and firm(ish) and jiggly in all the right places.
Most of my calories came from my favorite food group: booze.
But then my later twenties hit and then my thirties, rounding into middle age. Quickly, I found myself googling things like:
“What happens to the female body when it ages?”
“What are the best diets for women in their thirties? Forties?”
“Which foods are healthiest to eat?”
And I started learning something interesting, albeit freakish.
Fruits and vegetables and nuts and other things that forest creatures bulk up on—the vegetarian diet—is pretty darn good for you.
In the name of all things leafy: what the!?!?!
How to Eat Vegetarian without Being One—Yes, Really
Disclaimer for all my fellow meat-lovers: This article is not trying to convert you to the leafy lifestyle. Hang with me for a moment more…
After learning about the nutrition benefits, I decided to try eating more fruits and vegetables. First, by watching on YouTube what happens on an actual chicken farm (view with caution, preferably not while eating chicken strips). Then, by researching different vegetarian meals with protein substitutes like tofu and beans.
First, I tried the “Tofu Bake.” Basically, just cut up tofu and root vegetables baked in olive oil and seasoned with garlic and ginger. This quickly became my husband’s least favorite meal.
Next, I decided to challenge my meatless chops. I was motivated to find something vegetarian that actually tasted good.
I researched and tried all sorts of dishes. Bean chili, coconut curry, stir fry, burrito bowls and more. I even made homemade bean burgers. What I found out from my research and my experimental cookery was something interesting. I could make yummy and nutritious food for my family without all the meat. We could save a few bucks a month and go vegetarian a couple of days a week.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t eat meat. This might be heresy in the South. In the name of all things medium rare, by all means! Dig into all the grisly tenderloins you can. Savor all the finger lickin’ fried chicken. Some of my favorite dishes still contain carnivorous components.
What I am saying is that maybe those veggie-loving folks are on to something. At least a couple days a week, anyways.
Want to check out some amazing veggie meals? Here are a couple great links and my all time favorite veggie-leaning dish: Southwestern Black Bean Casserole!
- Taste of Home has a phenomenal ‘best of’ list of vegetarian ideas to try.
- Food Network compiled dozens of veggie-friendly dishes in this article: “43 Vegetarian Recipes Everyone Will Love.”
- Check out some more great ideas at Beauty from Burnt Toast here.
Are you working toward weight loss this year? A registered dietitian shares what methods are most effective for your health and body type: What Do I Need to Know to Begin My Weight Loss Journey? with Sharyn Saftler – 175