So from the time I was 18 until my early 30's, with just a couple of short lapses, I was a pescetarian with a strong emphasis on vegetarian eating. I felt good on this diet and it aligned (and still does) with my ideals. I have now been a meat-eater for about 2 1/2 years and I am watching my health decline dramatically. I've never been thin, but now I am overweight (obese, officially)--and that weight is heavily concentrated in my middle. I am also much less fit.
I have tried to return to my healthier/more ethical eating habits before but haven't had much success. I thought I'd try this forum for some inspiration and support. I REALLY really want to get back to where I was.
So . . . what advice to people have on how to make the transition back? Meat-eating is so handy in our culture. Vegetarianism takes more creativity. I am working full-time and am a parent so time to prepare things from scratch is limited. And also just time to think through a paradigm shift.
What are your stand-by, go-to foods, your staples for when you are too tired to think? What did you eat during your transition, if you had one? Do you have tips for eating in a mixed family (my other two are omnis)? What do you take to work?
Gimme some love, mamas--I really want to do this :)
That's wonderful that you're making the effort to return to the lifestyle that makes you feel healthiest.
I have three kids, and it is difficult to make the time to prepare healthy vegetarian foods, I know! Some things that help me:
-keep the freezer stocked with frozen fruit for smoothies (also keep a few big containers of soy yogurt in the refrigerator to add to smoothies for protein)
-I make bread and bagels every weekend and freeze them for use during the week.
-It's nice to always have a big pot of cooked beans and cooked rice in the refrigerator for quick meals. We like pinto beans and red beans.
-peanut butter sandwiches on healthy bread with carrot sticks (not too exciting, but my kids will ALWAYS eat it and it's very fast to make)
-I like to have a big salad for lunch with baked tofu (again from the refrigerator stash)
I hope it works out for you! Give us an update and tell us how it's going.
I don't have any recipes to offer. But I just wanted to say "Welcome Home"
I went veggie about 6 yrs ago. And I fell off the wagon a couple of time. I'm making a very sincere effort to make it work now. I totally understand what your saying about your health. So happy you know what you need to do to fix it.
Sad but true eating meat in our society is very easy. Being veggie/vegan not so easy.
Come back, keep us updated.
Our family is "mixed" - DH omni (recently developed lactose intolerance), DD1 pescatarian (which really means lacto/ovo 98% of the time), DD2 omni, and me - omni and also thinking of going back to vegetarianism (was lacto/ovo for 5 years and "mostly veg" for another 5 or so). Things are somewhat fluid LOL. As you can see, it's often just easier to make vegetarian or vegan meals, sometimes with cheese/meat on the side.
+1 everything Dovey said! We also do the smoothies, PB sandwiches, rice & beans, salads, baked tofu. I also work at my own business, so sometimes I have leisurely time to make all sorts of stuff, other times I need dinner on the table in 10 minutes. Staples we have pretty much every week:
- pasta with a jar of sauce
- soba noodles with tofu/veg and stir-fry sauce: put water on to boil, cut up veg and tofu, throw everything in the boiling water, boil for 4-5 min., drain and add sauce - less than 10 minutes!
- stir-fry of some kind - saute veg and tofu, serve w/ rice. A rice cooker is a godsend.
- rice and bean bowls - rice from rice cooker, can of beans, toppings: lettuce, salsa, cheese, avocado (nice because everyone puts on the toppings they want)
- tacos/burritos - same as above, but with corn/wheat tortillas
- in winter, this lentil soup: http://www.pinkofperfection.com/2011/03/red-lentil-soup-with-spinach-and-lemon/
Chili is also a good transition food, I think:
Love this recipe, but I often use my own beans cooked from dried in the slow cooker (also a godsend!)
I have been trying to have green smoothies for breakfast and a salad for lunch more days than not, and I also find that curbs the cravings for bad stuff.
Mom "D" to DD1 "Z" (14) and DD2 "I" (11) DH "M"
Thank you so much for your encouragement and advice. It's exactly what I was looking for.
This morning I had oatmeal, organic local yogurt (so happy it's affordable), blackberries, and pumpkin seeds. I brought rice and mung beans to work. Tonight we're having pizza at my favorite place, which just happens to do very creative veg And vegan pizzas. So Day 1 is going fine.
I need to remember to plan ahead. Good reminder to make things ahead!
Thanks again. This is what I needed to really do it this time.
Easy to make 'fun' veggie meals helped me a lot, initially.
Double batch of chickpea salad (like tuna salad, with food processor chopped chickpeas) - or other easy sandwich spreads. I especially love ones I can toss seeds into.
Veggie 'BLT' - with the tempeh fakin' bacon or either breaded eggplant or fried green tomatoes.
Veggie chili & homemade oven fries. Or, similarly, black bean nachos.
Figuring out solutions to your other meat cravings quickly - and finding vegetarian similar foods or similarly flavored ones (so for example, a tempeh reuben or the field roast sausages were great treats to find, because they're so much more sausage-y which is something I always liked and thought I'd never really get to enjoy again. Or veggie jerky.). Good luck. Make it a journey, it isn't failure if you're not perfect at this. It's just finding a different balance in the foods you choose to eat and even your small choices and successes affect that.
For breakfasts, I usually eat oatmeal or muesli, fried tofu and toast, scrambled tofu, or some variation on bread and nut butter. Easy dinner ideas: pasta with steamed veggies and some sort of sauce - pesto from the freezer, jarred marinara, blender cashew alfredo, fresh pomodoro, or Asian peanut. Shake and bake tofu with steamed veggies and rice (I usually have leftover coating in the freezer - one nice thing about tofu is that it doesn't leave scary bacteria behind so I don't have to throw it out). Barbecued tempeh, biscuits and veggies. Red lentil curry.
Lunches are the meal I hate, though. I never know what to eat.
Would you guys mind posting the recipes for the chickpea tuna salad and tofu shake-and-bake?
Also, I recently bookmarked this, because it seems like a quick & easy way to make a really nutritious salad. If you used sturdier stuff, like cabbage, as a base, I bet it would travel well, too:
Mom "D" to DD1 "Z" (14) and DD2 "I" (11) DH "M"
Our chickpea 'no-tuna' salad:
(a lot of this would be optional to add in - it doesn't always have all these ingredients)
1 can chickpeas, whirred in food processor (I usually make 2, cause otherwise it's gone too quickly - and just add extra of everything. I once mashed them with a potato masher, and it turned out okay - just a tad chunkier, in case you don't have a processor)
2 generous tbsp soy mayo/regular mayo/yogurt
Spoon of chopped onion, or green onion, or chives
1 stalk chopped celery
salt & pepper
dash celery seed
any mixed herb seasoning you like, or fresh herbs
dash curry powder
EXCELLENT on bread with sliced pickles or, even better, sliced green olives.
Also good for a 'no-tuna' melt with some cheese/vegan cheese on a bun.
as someone whos been veggie since age 5, i dont really know how being a meat eater is easier? Is it in social settings (i have found that to be more embarrassing than anything... asking for a pasta meal when everyone else is chosing chicken or beef) Or is it traveling? I actually stop at grocery stores when I travel and grab a tub of hummus and some Hawaiian rolls, and some pre cut/washed veggies and thats my "fast food". I do eat french fries or baked potatoes at wendy's if i get off at a stop without a grocery store. Chick Fillet also has fruit cups and McD's has parfaits... Not the best, but in a bind... Veggie burgers at Burger king....
For fast food at home, I always have fruit on hand, peanut butter & jelly, chips and salsa or guacmole... A new meal I like is tacos- i use morning star fake meat, some quinoa that i stir taco seasoning into, and all the fixin's, and I have a taco... If I dont have the fake meat, I use kidney beans or black beans. (which is probably healthier!! But my family likes the morning star fake meat)
chilli is super fast & yummy, too.
Can you tell us what makes meat so much easier? Im just thinking, ham sandwich=pb &j, chicken nuggets= Morning Star fake nuggets, chilli with meat=chili with beans....
We do eat a lot of vegetarian meals, it definitely helps of that is a possibility for your family. I try to make meals which are easy to split into meat and veggie. For example the other day I made a tomato-based stew. I made the sauce in one pot then fried some chicken in a second pot and added half the sauce. To the original pot I added chickpeas. Both were served with rice. So two meals but not twice the cooking. I've found there are heaps of recipes that work this way.
We also sometimes cook a roast or get a BBQ chicken or something and just add a bit to an otherwise vegetarian salad when serving.
For quick meals we do thIngs like baked beans or scrambled eggs on toast. Or baked potatoes with cheese and coleslaw. We also try to keep lots of frozen leftovers for DH to take to work or for days when it's all just too hard. We froze 4-5 portions each of the tomato stew I mentioned earlier for example. We also keep bread and rolls in the freezer for quick lunches. Lots of options there. I like cheese and tomato or cucumber with mayo or avocado with vinegar.. DH likes cheese and avocado or cheese and mustard with salad leaves of some sort.
It's been an adjustment for me but easier than I though. It would definitely be easier for me if DH ate meat but it would be easier for him if I didn't so it's just a matter of me learning the alternatives I guess.
Mother of two spectacular girls, born mid-2010 and late 2012
This is the coating recipe I use for shake and bake tofu - for a 'chicken strips' flavor, I omit the kelp and dill, and add a teaspoon or 2 each parsley, sage, and thyme.
Hey, just wanted to say thank you to everyone for your encouragement and ideas! I made it through the week and it wasn't that hard. I can't wait to try some of those recipes. I'm optimistic about it sticking this time :)