Going Veggie

veg·e·tar·i·an                                                                                                     

{vej-i-tair-ee-uhn} n. a person who does not eat or does not believe in eating meat but lives off of vegetables, fruits, nuts, etc… instead.

Many people associate the term above with someone who is an egg head, health nut, or extreme activist. I myself must admit that whenever I heard the words, “Oh I’m a vegetarian” while dining with friends, I’d cringe a little inside thinking, “Paleeese, get over yourself”. I couldn’t imagine not eating meat….until March 9, 2011, Ash Wednesday, marked the beginning of the Lenten season in which I decided to give up eating meat for the  40 (technically 46) days until Easter. Describing this sacrifice as challenging would be a massive understatement. It’s like the saying goes, “You don’t miss what you have until it’s gone.”  This week marks the half way point in my decision to go veggie so  I’ve decided to pass along a few tips anyone partaking in a meatless diet should keep in mind.

1. PROTEIN=ENERGY and lots of vegetarians don’t get enough of it. Women need 45 grams and Men need 55 grams of protein in their diet per day. Where do you find it? Protein rich foods (aside from meat) include nuts, certain grains like brown rice, and legumes (aka beans). Tofu is also listed as a great source of this essential nutrient, but I cannot, for the life of me, learn to eat this tasteless gelatin like substance.  I give myself a D- in this category. I eat peanut butter sandwiches all the time, but other than that and the occasional bean burrito, I fall short of getting the right amount of protein each day. So what’s my plan of action? Trying the veggie burger, popular opinion seems to be that BOCABURGER  brands Roasted Onion flavor is top pick for best tasking bogus beef.

2. CALCIUM=STRONG BONES and it also plays a role in lowering blood pressure and regulating your heart beat. Vegetarians, like everyone else, can get calcium from dairy products. Vegans, however, have a more difficult time consuming the recommended four servings a day and must eat things like spinach other greens and orange juice. SILK soy milk is the best tasting substitute for the real deal milk; I especially enjoy the almond flavor found in most grocery stores.

3. IRON IS IMPORTANT and vegetarians are at a higher risk for developing iron deficiency or anemia. Dark leafy greens, beans, soy, all the same things needed for protein can help increase iron levels, but iron from meat is absorbed almost three times better than iron from plants. It is almost essential for anyone not eating meat to regulate their iron intake by taking vitamin supplements. The best dietary supplement in my opinion: VegiFestiv and FruitFestive capsules. They’re a combination of different fruits, vegetables, antioxidants and probiotics in pill form, all made from organic materials. For me, these are a much better alternative to multivitamins like OneaDay, always leave me feeling nauseous. Another way to help your body retain iron is to increase consumption of Vitamin C ,which as we all know is a main nutrient in our favorite O.J.

Being a Vegetarian in a college town like Morgantown is even harder, especially for those picky eaters like me. Pizza is quickly become a go to meal option and I’m getting a little sick of it. Keyan Cafe is a specialty cafe serving  organic vegetarian and vegan meals and drinks made for dine in or take out. Some of the fruit or regular salads seem okay, but I can not bring myself to be adventurous enough to try any other vegetarian entrees, just mentioning plantains, cabbage and kale all together on the same plate makes me queasy.

About three more weeks and I will most likely go back to enjoying burgers with my fries, but being a temporary vegetarian has done more than make me realize how much I should appreciate a good steak. This experience has shown how important it is to stop and ask yourself, am I eating right? Do I have enough of the good stuff? and how can I do better?

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4 Responses to Going Veggie

  1. K.Wish. says:

    Nice post, Shannon! Have you ever eaten at Mother India? It’s has a really good Indian buffett with vegetarian options. I actually kind of preferred some of the vegetarian food. I don’t think anyone should have to get tired of pizza, so try it out!

  2. samandateets says:

    I have never heard of Mother India but will def. have to try it out soon! Thanks for the tip, hopefully it can help me branch out and become a little more adventurous with my veggie meal choices!

  3. Murphy says:

    I’m glad to see you mention Kenyan cafe! I see it every time I go to Los, but never hear anyone talk about it, so I’ve never found the motivation to try it. It sounds pretty good though, I think now I”m going to have to try it!

  4. ewadd986 says:

    Nice post Shannon. I don’t think that I could ever go vegetarian myself, meat is just such a big staple of my everyday diet and it tastes good. I think it would be kind of cool do try out what you’re doing for lent though to see what it would be like, keep it up.

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