A few weeks ago, I made a decision that would surprise anyone who knows me well – to go vegetarian for two weeks.
My decision to do this was fairly impulsive, as I thought it would be an interesting challenge of self-control. That said, I recognize there are many benefits to following a vegetarian or vegan diet, such as a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, as well as lower blood pressure and cholesterol.
As someone who has always eaten a lot of meat, I figured it would be a difficult experiment. I’ve always been the kind of guy who likes to order the “all-meat” option at pizza places, or gets a second helping of chicken during dinner. Meat was usually my favourite element of most meals growing up, and I figured I’d start craving it within a day or two.
To my surprise, however, abstaining from meat has been much easier than I thought it would be. After my first trip to the vegetarian aisle of the grocery store, I’ve learned there are many faux-meat products that taste almost as good as real meat, such as veggie burgers, simulated ground beef, fake bacon, etc. With a little sauce and seasoning, it’s sometimes hard to even taste the difference between meat and these soy-based products. I guess those shocked individuals on the A&W commercials for the Beyond Meat burger weren’t acting as much as I thought they were.
Another thing I’ve learned is that this experiment hasn’t limited my cooking options as much as I thought it would. With the help of some vegetarian websites, I’ve been able to find some interesting recipes and make some tasty meals, including a teriyaki vegetable stir-fry, spaghetti and (fake) meatballs, veggie burgers and fries, and vegetarian tacos.
One thing I have noticed in the last few weeks is that I regain my appetite quicker. That makes sense, as meats are heavy with protein, which is the most filling of the three main macronutrients. I’ve been able to mitigate this hunger by having a snack later in the evening, usually an hour or two before I go to sleep. Without meat, I've had to be creative to make sure I'm still getting enough protein.
Going forward, I doubt I’ll stick to a vegetarian diet forever. As of writing this, I admit I have already had one cheat meal, when I indulged in a bowl of Pho – one of my favourite dishes – at a Vietnamese restaurant. But I believe I can transition to a point where I’m eating much less meat than I did before this experiment. Perhaps meat can become something I indulge in just once or twice a week.