I attempted becoming a vegetarian for a week, here’s how it went and a step by step how you can give it a go too.
Vegetarians: don’t eat animals but will eat animal products… hmmm sounds foreign to me. Growing up I always thought there was no possible way I could be a vegetarian. Steak dinners, chewy bacon in the morning, I could never see myself giving that up. As I began becoming passionate about the environment and sustainability, I started realizing truly how large my meat consumption was and the negative effects that comes with consuming meat in regards to water conservation, saving our forests, and ethical practices. Although I’m not sure If I could ever fully give up meat consumption, I thought I’d try it for a week. Here’s how it went:
Being a student while trying to live an active lifestyle, I don’t have much time to gaze the grocery shopping aisles and attempt to be the next Chef Ramsey with my limited cooking supplies and skills. I decided to try and get some good flavors while keeping cooking simple and quick all while lowering my normal weekly grocery costs.
The guidelines I set out for myself were as follows:
- No meat for the week
- One grocery shop at the beginning of the week where all items are purchased
- Lowering my regular grocery shop budget
- All meal prep times under 30 minutes
I looked up some quick easy vegetarian recipes to get me started, sketched out a rough idea of how the week would go, and headed off to Chez Sobeys to begin my vegetarian week. Since I have 4/5 of the days starting bright and early with 8:30’s, I knew I’d want my breakfasts to be quick and on the go to get me out the door post waking up minutes before class. I decided to go with the classic smoothies, oatmeal, and overnight oats. Buying frozen fruits lowered my costs while also ensuring nothing goes bad throughout the week. For lunches I turned to quinoa, couscous to be the base of my lunch salads, and looked towards hummus wraps and soups for my other lunches. Through talking to a friend who’s a long time vegan I was informed that if you’re not going to use your fresh veggies in three days, there are more nutrients in buying them frozen. I decided to again reduce costs and hit the frozen section to find my veggie supplies for my lunch ingredients. For the dinner supplies I tried to vary all meals to make them different.
The first night was simple, I decided a large pasta dinner topped with some tomato sauce, beans and then cheese and spices to finish it off. Night two was when it got interesting, the foreign substance of tofu. At first glance I looked at this wrapped up white block of what I thought was rubber. I decided to chop the tofu into slices, plop it in some soy sauce, toss the slices into sesame seeds and then fry them in a pan to put into my couscous and veggie stir-fry (See the attached image of the outcome). To be honest, it wasn’t too shabby at all!
Night three came along and I decided to go Italian and make a veggie pizza. Although it wasn’t topped with any meat, throwing my favourite fresh veggies and beans on the top made it a yummy dinner. Night four was a quick burrito soirée with beans, frozen corn, rice, and spices all wrapped up into a burrito and topped with some leftover cheese from the pasta dinner. To use up the rest of the wraps, night five turned into a falafel wrap with lettuce and tomato. With it being my first time indulging a falafel, I honestly found it quite tasty with lots of flavour. Night six came along with a simple rice and veggie stir fry. To wrap up my veggie week I ended on a high with homemade seasoned sweet potato fries made in the oven with some leftover salad I had accumulated throughout the week.
Looking back at the week, it was a success. I didn’t eat a single piece of meat, I only went to the grocery store once and spent less time than I normally do and didn’t spend over 30 minutes on a single meal (minus the sweet potatoes fries, they take some time in the oven but too good to resist). Looking forward, although I might on the occasion consumer the rare steak, through taking the first step I’ve been able to realize how easy it is being a vegetarian, the impact it has on the environment, how you save money, and how through cooking the right meals you don’t really miss meat consumption. Even though it might not be for everyone if you ever wanted to try it for whatever reason, give it a go even just for half a week, be a vegetarian two days out of the week. Just through lowering your personal meat consumption and being aware you can have a huge impact on our environment.