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“OK, guys, I’m going to go vegetarian for a week for an article; I’m so exci-”
“But you live in the south . . .”
How can anyone make this decision when you live in the self-proclaimed barbecue capital of the country, aka Texas? With meat eaters galore and taco fiends behind every corner, the decision to go vegetarian for a week was not an easy one. Luckily, in a place like Austin, I was pleasantly surprised at how simple this whole vegetarian thing could be. Yes, it’s difficult to grasp when there’s places like Franklin’s barbeque and Torchy’s Tacos that offer up fine meats doused in sauce and/or cheese, but there’s so much more to a city than just two well-known and extremely delicious barbeque and taco joints.
For this, I thought I needed to plan. See, three years ago, I graduated from the University of Mississippi and went through an overhaul and redesign of what I thought food was, it’s purpose in my life and for my body. Instead of feeding myself what I my brain wanted because it merely tasted good, I would feed myself what my body wanted because it’s what it needed to thrive. This surely would take the same kind of mental shift; the same kind of willpower, the same kind of redesign and overhaul.
The more I thought about what can and cannot be had on a vegetarian diet, I realized that a lot of what I’ve learned about food over the last few years plays into what a vegetarian can and cannot eat. But I found out that being vegetarian is also much more than just eating this instead of that; it’s eating with a purpose.
With this newly found purpose, it’d be easy to eat with this mentality for a week. Luckily for me, you can get a fried avocado taco, which is equal parts vegetarian and delicious. There are countless things this week had brought into my mind, and the first thing was realizing how accessible restaurants and grocers have begun to make vegetarianism. Seriously! Just go to your local grocery store, pop in the frozen section and I bet you’ll find frozen chicken-less chicken nuggets and tofu sausage for your morning breakfast taco.
It also turns out that being vegetarian is an entirely different thing than being a vegan. The main difference is the allowance of dairy products and, most importantly, eggs. How can one possibly have a soul-saving, life-changing breakfast taco without eggs!? Well, you can’t, and luckily for me, I didn’t have to.
A main principle for the vegetarian diet is that it’s primarily plant-based. If you’re thinking that vegetarians eat only vegetables, then you’d be mistaken. Yes, a large portion of their diet is reliant on vegetables, but it’s also plant and egg-based protein heavy, along with everyone’s favorite thing to consume: grains. On Day One, I was Pinteresting vegetarian meals, thinking I’d be starving without my beloved chicken or chorizo.
Believe it or not, but I was happily filling up on veggies, eggs and fruits as my primary source of nutrition and not hating every second of it. While going vegetarian, I realized that with restrictions came endless possibilities. Think of it as a ‘one door closes, another one opens’ type of reality. Or in other words: reality. Yeah, I couldn’t have a steak salad, but I could still have a salad with vegetarian chorizo, walnuts and feta cheese and a homemade salad dressing that anyone would openly drool over.
Going vegetarian is about eliminating health risks while opening the door to many plant-based solutions to everyday problems. Feeling bloated? Eat some veggies. Tired and irritated? Snack on some carrots, drink some water, and handle it. The world isn’t ending by eliminating animal produce from your diet. It’s actually turning just fine, and may be even better off if everyone took a week or two to go vegetarian. Imagine the costs you could cut; the lives of animals you could single-handedly impact in a positive manner; the benefits your own life can reap from simply leaning towards veggies as fuel instead of that dreaded part of every meal.
If you’re considering it, just take the plunge. Pay attention to your body. For all you know, it could be craving a vegetarian adventure.