March 3, 2012 by toheaveninahooptie
I have a history of 1. giving up the same thing for Lent every year (sweets/candy) and 2. starting Lent off with a vigor that doesn’t last more than a couple of weeks. So, this year I decided to try something new: going vegetarian for 40 days of Lent (not including seafood-this is Louisiana for pete’s sake). As my history would dictate, Lent is yet again too easy for me, but this year it isn’t because I lack motivation; it’s because I love being vegetarian. Meat was a pretty staple item in my diet, so it has been a challenge to rearrange and adapt my meals to be meatless, but I’ve loved said challenge! My mom doesn’t cook anything special for me, so if dinner involves meat it means I’m making my own dinner that night. This has turned out to be a surprisingly fun little challenge. I’ve been forced outside of my comfort zone again, and again I’m actually enjoying the newness of it. It’s fun for me to come home and have a recipe in mind, then to cook my own dinner. It also makes me feel like a mom, so it fulfills my never-ending game of “house”.
So far, I’ve made myself three meals (real meals, not just the scrambled eggs and cereal type of meals). I’ve made vegetarian tofu stir fry, tofu sloppy joes, and black bean burritos. Each meal was delicious, healthy, vegetarian, and easy. The tofu sloppy joes were the most exciting to make because I literally did the exact same thing I would do to make normal sloppy joes, except I used crumbled extra firm tofu in place of meat. The bean burritos tasted wonderful and were a breeze to make, and the stir fry was tasty, but not very exciting. Today during/between (more like during) classes I looked up new recipes to try. I’m really excited about trying black bean burgers and home made falafel. I’ve never even eaten falafel. That’s why this is all so exciting, I’m starting to like new things. I can’t wait to go to the grocery to buy ingredients I’ve never heard of to make dishes that I’ve never tried. Tomorrow I plan to go buy the supplies and try at least one new recipe. Whoo hoo! Although I can eat meat on Sunday, who says that I will? Sorry God, I should pick a difficult Lenten promise.
Other than delicious recipes, I’ve also learned interesting things about vegetarianism. Contrary to popular belief, it actually isn’t that hard for vegetarians to get adequate protein, iron, calcium, and vitamin B12. Vegg heads have a lower risk of breast, ovarian, and prostate cancer, consume less pesticides, have more stamina, a stronger immune system, and are less likely to be overweight. In addition to this, the global price of meat consumption is strikingly high. Meat production uses huge amounts of corn, grain, labor, and LAND SPACE. It takes 3 times the fossil fuels to produce a meat based diet than a vegetarian diet. This year 20 million people will die of malnutrition, but the US could feed 100 million with the feed used to produce meat for 10% of America’s meat intake. To produce 1 gallon of grain it takes 14 gallons of water. The same weight of beef requires 441 gallons of water. Raising animals for food generates more greenhouse gasses than all the world’s cars and trucks combined. I was shocked when I discovered these things, I never would have even thought about that side of vegetarianism.
So, is the once carnivorous grand daughter of becoming vegetarian? For 40 days at least. Although being vegetarian has its perks, so does eating meat. There’s the source of protein and things like that, but my main challenge going long-term vegetarian would be, well, the long-term. Making my own meals is fun and exciting now while it’s something new, but could I make my own meals for a long period of time? Could I handle Thanksgiving, Christmas, vacations, and dinner parties bereft of meat? More than that, my grand father raised and sold cattle for meat. My family gives deer sausage as Christmas presents. Louisiana is a hunter’s paradise. Just because meat loses its place in my diet doesn’t mean it loses its importance in so many aspects of Louisiana life. I wouldn’t mind continuing my vegetarianism, but it wouldn’t always be as easy as it is now. Maybe after Lent I’ll just become an occasional meat eater that is mainly vegetarian? Maybe I won’t order or make anything with meat, but I’ll eat it for holidays and when it’s the only option? I don’t know, but that bridge can be crossed when it comes. For now, I’m loving this vegetarian kick, no matter how long it lasts!