Tuesday, June 24, 2008

What I Wish I Knew When I Became a Vegetarian

Let's see... how many bodily functions I can possibly talk about on this blog? So far I've covered breathing, pooing, pissing and ejaculation (vaguely) so I guess it's time to bring the ole "M" word out. That's right, boys: Menstruation! Run away in fear!

This post isn't really about that, but I want to start there because this is the very first period I've had this year since going veg that I wasn't relying on iron pills to ensure a normal flow (and, some months, even to start the damn thing). What that says to me is that I've finally gotten my diet to a point where I am getting much more of the nutrients my body needs from my food and not from pills. Hooray! Which brings me to my point: If I could do it all over again, I would have been much smarter about how I became a vegetarian. So I'd like to share with you some info from Farm Sanctuary's Guide to Veg Living, because this is stuff I wish I'd known in January.

The most important point is to let yourself eat less meat gradually. That way your body can adjust more easily and so can your mindset about food. That's one of the things I didn't do! I just stopped all of a sudden and I think it was kind of a shock to my system and might have led to some of my sickness this winter. Here's the FS's tips on "making the switch:"

1. Eat veg one day a week.
Ease down on the road to vegetarianism by eating veg one day a week. Turn to animal-free foods you already enjoy, like veggie stir-fry or bean burritos.
2. Find some new favorites.
Once you get more used to incorporating new foods into your daily regime, try making animal-free versions of your favorite dishes.
3. Have fun and experiment with your food.
Really start exploring and enjoying the wide, incredible world of vegetarian cuisine by purchasing a new cookbook, attending a cooking class or searching for some new, exciting recipes online.
I have to say, I think the first and second tips are the most important. I was lucky enough to receive How to Cook Everything Vegetarian for Christmas last year and it is hands-down the best one-stop resource for eating vegetarian that I've ever seen. And I've been looking. It covers everything from all the basic veg foodstuffs and how to generally cook all of them, then provides detailed and unique recipes that we still turn to more often than any other cookbook.

Another neat detail that FS's guide provides is "The Four New Food Groups" as they related to vegans, really (here's one that includes some animal products), but it's a good place to start with getting your mind around how to nourish yourself on what some people consider to be fewer options:
Whole Grains (breads, cereals, whole grains, and pasta)
  • 6 or more daily servings suggested
  • Provides energy, protein, complex carbohydrates, fiber, iron and B-vitamins
Vegetables (fresh, raw, frozen or cooked)
  • 3 or more daily servings suggested
  • Provides vitamin C, beta-caroten, calcium, iron, riboflavin and fiber
Legumes, Nuts and other Protein Foods (beans, lentils, dried peas, soybean products, nuts and seeds)
  • 2 or more daily servings suggested
  • Provides protein, iron, calcium, zinc, fiber and B vitamins
Fruits (fresh, frozen, raw or cooked)
  • 2 or more daily servings suggested
  • Provides fiber, vitamin C, and beta-carotene
MMMMMmmmmmm... delicious!

Related posts:
A Tasty Vegetarian "Burger 'n' Fries"
Ted's Montana Grill: Vegetarians Vaguely Welcome
Blue Koi v. Po's Dumpling Bar
Detox Your Life (How To)


Anonymous said...

Vegetarians pretty much do taste better.

Mmmmm, tasty vegetarians!

May said...

For serious!