Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Successful Failure of the Vegetarian Challenge

Confused yet? Let me explain.

Last weekend, I started the vegetarian challenge. We actually started on Saturday (thanks to me not paying attention to the number on the calendar). I didn't tell my husband until Wednesday- frankly, he probably wouldn't have noticed at all. He doesn't care what I feed him as long as it tastes good.

The challenge started (for real) on Monday, and I completed the first 4 challenges:
Day 1- try a new fruit/veggie- I tried tomatillos, and made salsa-not-so-verde (this is what happens if you use colored peppers). It tasted good.
 Day 2- green smoothie. Ok, so this was kind of slacker version, since I was able to get Odwalla Superfood for $2.99 (instead of $4.99). At that price, I couldn't get half the ingredients I would have needed!
 And I used some of the Day 1 challenge on my black bean burrito.
 Day 3: Quinoa! Now, I love quinoa, so this was easy. I found a recipe for eggplant and roasted red peppers with quinoa, and since I actually had an eggplant and a jar of roasted red peppers, the decision was easy! The recipe was bland (I taste as I cook), so I added a little S&P, and then kicked it up with a half cup of lemon juice. BAM! YUM!!!
So. Good.

Day 4: Colorful
Check out that stir-fry. YUM.

And then Friday, after 6 days for us and on my husband's birthday, we had brats, grilled chicken, and burgers. Talk about falling off the wagon in style! We also ate zucchini and red potatoes.

But here's the thing: If I were to journal my food for you, it would become evident that this vegetarian challenge wasn't too much of a challenge. We habitually have meatless meals (just not that many in a row). I can honestly say we eat well- our meals are filled with vegetables, 99% cooked at home from complete scratch thanks to my food allergies.

I consider this challenge a successful failure.

No food thrown away- it was all devoured.
No complaints about taste.
Tried 3 new recipes in one week.
I ate more fruit for snacks... not necessarily part of the challenge, it just happened.

I have NO ENERGY. None. Every workout has felt like a struggle, even though running mileage is the lowest it's been all year. This was unexpected, since so many people report more energy.
I've been hungry for 5 days. Seriously. Meat-free meals leave my hungry within a half hour, even when I stuff myself. And yes, I was using whole grains, high fiber, etc. My husband has been hungry, too, which means he's mindlessly snacking (not good. Sorry, honey).
I haven't slept well at all, in part because I keep waking up HUNGRY.
And this hunger has been the "I'm going to punch you if I don't get food now" kind of hunger.
I struggled to find any new protein source, thanks mostly to my food allergies. Remember, I can't have ANY nuts, and most soy products (especially soy milk) contain carrageenan or gums, to which I'm also allergic (go check the labels, I'll wait. See? And carrageenan is a known carcinogen in rats, just and FYI).
And the biggest failure is that we jumped ship in such a gluttonous manor, thanks to the Husbeast's birthday feast (it would have been more minimal if I'd made his quiche, but he wants that all to himself next week!).

Am I glad I tried? YES. Will I ever become a true vegetarian? Doubtful.

As I said earlier this week, this challenge was a good way to jumpstart my 4 week pre-surgery plan of eating better an getting stronger/leaner. And now I know that a true vegetarian diet is not for me.

I'm going to return to my normal eating habits, which means I'll still be eating lots of veggies, legumes, etc, but with meat when I feel like it. We normally only have meat about 3-4 days a week anyway, and it's usually turkey or chicken. But I will keep reading through every recipe I find, be it vegan or meat-filled, because the bottom line is I LOVE GOOD FOOD.


  1. You sure gave it a valiant effort. Some good looking recipes. I too could never become a vegetarian. I love my meat too much!

  2. The quinoa dish sounds fantastic! And I think I have roasted red peppers from Aldi in my pantry. Hmm ... I eat meat-free a lot at lunch but usually eat meat at night as my husband rejects anything with a legume. I don't think I could be vegetarian, though. There are certain things I like too much.


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