For about a year and a half, I considered becoming vegetarian.
I felt that, aside from environmental and ethical reasons, it would also be good for my health. I had never been a big meat eater anyways and really only liked chicken and some types of seafood, so I didn’t think it would be a big change.
This past year, I cut back on my meat consumption, and a few months ago, I decided that I would finally give it up for good.
I’m really proud of myself for this because it took a lot of discipline to refrain from those late-night McDonald’s nugget cravings. I would recommend that anyone who is interested in going vegetarian or vegan try it for at least a week before jumping into a full commitment without knowing much about it.
There’s a lot of misconceptions about what it’s like to stop eating meat. For example, many people think you have to eat a lot of tofu.
However, with the rise in popularity of meatless or plant-based diets, there are many more options for meat substitutes than just tofu.
Morning Star Farms makes my favorite veggie burger I’ve tried so far. Boca is probably my second favorite.
I recently tried Quorn’s chicken-less chicken nuggets, and they’re one of my favorite meat substitutes. They taste almost the same as real chicken nuggets, and they’re really filling.
Gardein also makes really good “chick’n”. Another one of my favorites is Earth’s Best vegan meatballs.
There are also plenty of meals that you can make at home without meat. I make a lot of stir fry at home, and I just throw in some almonds and cashews to give it some protein. If I’m craving tacos, I’ll use a bean and rice base instead of meat and put some avocado in it.
I think that since cutting out meat from my diet, I’ve been a lot more creative
and motivated to cook, since I can’t just microwave chicken pot pie and nuggets like I used to.
There’s also starting to be a lot more options at restaurants as well. Burger King now sells a veggie burger.
Taco Bell has long been known as a favorite for vegetarians and vegans, and was actually the first fast food place to offer meals certified by the American Vegetarian Association.
They also make it easy to substitute meat (or cheese and sour cream for vegans) by having the “fresco” option, which will switch them out with pico and guacamole.
Noodles and Company and P.F. Chang’s are other restaurants that are known for having a selection of plant-based options. Most restaurants won’t have a problem substituting things, either.
At the Mexican restaurant in my hometown, they have no problem using beans instead of meat for me.
I’m really excited about all the growing options. McDonald’s, Pizza Hut and KFC have all released vegan options in Europe.
I think that it’s important to keep an open mind when trying new things.
A few years ago, I probably would have thought that if I went vegetarian, I’d only eat bland salads and tofu, and only have French fries when I go out to eat.
But there’s so much more than that now.
Reporting from Maria Ranger, Vanguard Columnist