{reflections on food} Resolution 2013: Vegetarian

My aspiration for 2013 is to go vegetarian.

My husband moved to Ohio in October for a job opportunity, and I sort of just settled into a primarily vegetarian lifestyle, mostly by accident. My husband is an avowed and unapologetic carnivore. He is a real meat-and-potatoes-but-hold-the-potatoes kind of guy. I do the cooking in our house, so if I was making steak, it was easier to cook myself one as well, rather than make two separate meals. But, eating at a restaurant was different – if there was a tasty-sounding vegetarian option on the menu, more often than not that’s what I would order. I guess I’m just not in love with meat, and prefer just eating vegetables and grains. Dropping the red meat was actually insanely easy (though, occasionally, I have a craving), as was foregoing pork…but eliminating chicken is proving to be a little harder to manage. Chicken so often just doesn’t seem like meat, you know? And it’s so versatile. But, I’m trying hard to stick with vegetarianism.

I know there are lots of ways to enjoy meat while still reducing your environmental impact and also to reduce animal cruelty, but I just keep thinking about the animals, and I am becoming increasingly uncomfortable with knowing that a living, breathing creature has to die so I can enjoy a hamburger or a pulled pork sandwich. It makes me want to cry, actually.

I understand that there are people who advocate for humane slaughter, and I completely support their position. If you’re going to kill an animal to feed yourself and your family, then of course it should be raised and killed in the most humane and kind manner. I love animals. I get it. But, my ideal choice is to just not be part of that food chain. I know my ideal choice is not a popular one, but it is my choice.

Why do I say “ideal choice”? Because I’m having a hard time divorcing myself completely from the carnivorous life. I do like hamburgers, and I do love me a pulled pork sandwich. Sometimes I just have to forget their origins. But I don’t want it to be this way. I don’t want to be conflicted anymore. So, I’m transitioning myself from an omnivore into a mostly vegetarian, with an occasional side of guilt. I actually began the transition in October, and I’ve had pretty decent success so far. I still do crave fast food cheeseburgers and pulled pork sandwiches occasionally, though.

I have found that it’s difficult – but not impossible – to get an adequate supply of protein. I’ve been eating quinoa, yogurt, and lots and lots of beans. Guess it’s a good thing I’m living alone.

I’ve also been avoiding processed foods in general – I dropped HFCS from my diet long ago, and I’m no longer eating processed breads or other baked goods. In 2012, I launched a Bread Challenge, wherein I baked a different bread recipe every week and shared the results. I lost the challenge (only made it 15 weeks or so), but what I gained was a knowledge that making your own bread is actually easy and fun (time-consuming, but easy). There really is no need for me to go back to grocery-store bread – I even learned how to make pita bread and naan (my favorite).

Things I’ve been enjoying:

  • Quinoa
  • Lentils
  • Barley
  • Black beans
  • Quorn (mycoprotein meat replacer)
  • Cheese
  • Hummus
  • Home Baked Breads
  • Asian foods – curries, soups, stir-frys

Things I am less good about dropping: Diet Pepsi.

I am feeling much better in general. I haven’t lost any weight as of yet (a side benefit I was really hoping for), but my body feels less bloated, and my mind feels less foggy. And I can go to Mars, now – I hear you have to be a vegetarian if you want to live there.

Here’s one of my recent favorite recipes! Makes a great lunch the next day, too. Tip: fish sauce is a crucial ingredient; don’t leave it out!

Thai Red Vegetable Curry



  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon red curry paste
  • 1 can light coconut Milk
  • ½ cup vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fish Sauce
  • 1 pound tofu or meat replacement, cut in bite-size pieces (if desired; if not, add more veggies)
  • 3 cups assorted cut-up vegetables, such as bell peppers, onions, carrots, potatoes, sugar snap peas
  • 2 tablespoons julienne-cut fresh basil
  • Cooked jasmine rice


Heat oil in large skillet on medium heat. Add curry paste; stir fry 1 to 1 1/2 minutes or until fragrant. Add coconut milk and chicken stock; bring to simmer on medium-high heat. Stir in brown sugar and fish sauce until well blended.

Stir in vegetables; simmer 5 to 7 minutes or until meat is cooked through and vegetables are tender-crisp. Remove from heat. Stir in basil.

Serve with cooked jasmine rice.

19 Comments Add yours

  1. I had a Diet Pepsi addiction for years. I would drink upwards of 60-80 oz a day every day and then I just stopped. It was difficult, but truly one of the best things I did for myself ever. It looks like you’re doing great so far!

  2. Wendy says:

    Thanks! I had chicken over the weekend, as well as some Diet Pepsi. Oops. But it was my birthday, so I’m going to forgive myself and move forward…

  3. Jeni B says:

    Congratulations on your journey. I’ve tried the vegetarian diet and, for me, it just doesn’t work. I never really felt good.. ever. I totally understand where you are coming from though with getting to “know’ your food. I’m a total 21st century gal when it comes to that.. don’t make me meet my meat.. know what I mean? I cant’ eat a whole lobster cuz it’s looking at me and I **know** I could never cook a live one.

    I do applaud you for making a choice that works for you. I think if everyone understood that people make choices for a reason, we could all back off judging each other for them. (Sometimes I get flack for my meat-centric meals)

  4. corrina says:

    Good luck on your journey! I’ve been vegetarian and vegan in the past and loved both diets. I’ve never felt better than when I was vegan. Currently, I’m omni, and it is primarily from laziness (as in, I could be happy eating veg every day if I had a personal chef). I am finding that as I slowly get back into home cooking my preference is strongly toward veg meals. I just do not enjoy cooking meat (And, it is probably for the best since most of my cookbooks are veg, too).

  5. Amy says:

    My boyfriend is also a meat-lover, but I am fortunate that he has also taken to being fed swiss chard, kale, beans, and other vegetarian options, and that he is on board with buying organic, grass-fed meats. I don’t love meat but I do feel that my body needs it (and I do love good burgers and pulled pork!), so I try to choose the healthy/humane options when I do have it. My goal is to increase the proportion of raw and vegetarian foods in my diet while still enjoying the other things in moderation. Your thai curry recipe looks delicious! Best of luck to you as you prepare for your trip to Mars (I assume you’ve already got the $500,000 tucked away). 🙂

    1. Wendy says:

      If I had $500K tucked away – forget Mars! Personal chef, baby. Oh, and a Viking Dual Fuel Self-Cleaning Range.

  6. If it isn’t already on your radar, you should check out Rebar Modern Food Cookbook. The gals who wrote it were doing the whole foods / local / sustainable thing decades before most of the rest of us even heard about it, and it’s the only veggie cookbook whose recipes get past my meat and potatoes hubby.

    Good luck going veggie – I only lasted a half-dozen years myself . . . bacon broke me. 🙂

    1. Wendy says:

      I just checked out the book on Amazon…looks great! Thanks for the tip. I still might have trouble with Mr. Carnivore, but it’s worth a shot.

  7. This sounds so much like me and my other half! I used to be a die hard carnivore and hated vegetables, but since moving to university my tastes have changed completely and now I’m much more into vegetarian options and fish. Quite often I’ll go for the vegetarian option if we’re eating out, but I’m trying to convince my boyfriend onto a diet of less meat. He’s still complaining!

  8. midnitechef says:

    I’m also trying to eat less meat, but keeping cage free eggs, cheese and yogurt. My weakness is bacon, it’s hanging out in my fridge like crack would for a junkie. I will also eat wild caught fish, salmon is my favorite! Are you subscribing to any CSA’s to get more local veggies?

    1. Wendy says:

      I have subscribed to CSA’s in the past, but it’s actually more cost-effective for me to purchase what I need from the market each week (I am the only vegetable lover in my house). Cheese and yogurt are definitely staples for me – I especially love yogurt mixed with muesli (soaked overnight) for breakfast, with some fresh fruit. I do not do fish (at least not willingly).

  9. Robin says:

    I’m with you, I also eat with a conscience and have been a vegetarian for 27 years. Read any book by John Robbins such as: “The Food Revolution” or “Diet for a New America,” and your cravings will completely vanish.

  10. Wendy says:

    So, I feel I need to “out” myself here (and I’m frankly surprised that no one else caught it) – in a post dedicated to vegetarianism, I am advocating (nay, insisting upon) the use of FISH SAUCE. So…I’m a selective pescetarian?

    1. corrina says:

      I noticed, but I’ve had mixed responses to pointing out things are not actually veg (It’s a fine line between polite correction and nitpicking jerk). For ref, there is a recipe for vegetarian fish sauce in How To Cook Everything Vegetarian.

      1. Wendy says:

        Thanks! I guess I didn’t think about it too much, because I’m not being exactly “religious” about vegetarianism, just more aware. I will definitely check out the book. 🙂

  11. chosenvero says:

    I really appreciate your thoughts on going vegetarian. I like to say that I’m vegan, except for when I go out to eat (it can be really hard to find vegan yummies when out and about). Giving up meat was actually pretty easy for me, even though we were a meat every day kind of family. My husband isn’t vegetarian or vegan, but I cook vegan at home and he eats what I cook. He usually gets his meat at work or when we go out.

    One thing that I liked about your post is that it doesn’t sound like you’re being too hard on yourself. I’ve learned that you have to do it for yourself and not get down when you decide to eat whatever it is you want to eat.


  12. What about local, organic, free-range, etc. meat? I was vegetarian for 14 years until my husband made me fried chicken for our 3rd date (we’re Jewish so he just figured I only eat kosher meat and eat vegetarian when we went out). It took some compromising, but the budget is roughly the same if you only prepare meat meals 2-3 times/month with meat from “happy” sources rather than 2-3 times/week with conventionally sourced meat. That way meat is a treat of sorts (we only prepare it for shabbat or holidays) and becomes less of a meal staple.

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