There are two subjects that I've never quite gotten along with; fashion and dieting. The former I've waged war against for as far back as I can remember. It's a conflict born out of mutual mistrust and misunderstanding. I mean, the shoes I have right now are perfectly comfortable, and I like Hawaiian shirts. Who cares if its November outside?
I'm more cognizant of my difficulties with dieting, however. They come from the awareness that I simply don't have that rocklike discipline needed to stay on track with a diet after I've hit whatever (probably arbitrary) goals I would set for myself. I see my potential future played out by other people, their weight oscillating as they try Paleo, Adkins, and everything else in a desperate attempt to keep off the pounds.
Also, I am very fond of food.
All of that aside, I am a curious person. I'm (mostly) willing to give something a go, especially in a culinary sense. So I decided to try being vegetarian for a month. Now this isn't something I did lightly, but it is summer, I need to blog more, and I'm feeling the urge to try new things. Also, I'm slowly turning into a seriously fat bastard, so losing a few pounds wouldn't have been an unwelcome development.
The rule I set for myself was simple: don't eat meat. That's it. I wasn't going vegan, and I didn't end up changing my diet any more radically than I needed to. Eggs were fine, and so was dairy (that I'm not fond of either is a secondary consideration). There are plenty of people who could point out the all the problems for my little plan, or why it wasn't a good idea. But at the end of the day, it proved important not to over-think the whole project, or it would have died off entirely.
As I write this, I'm at the end of my little experiment. I went one month, successfully avoiding any kind of meat or meat-based products like chicken broth. Huzzah! I'd planned to write this post as a week-to-week in-process kind of thing, but I'd gotten distracted by the post-production stuff for my last Kickstarter (which always takes precedence). Also, if you can't tell, I'm really bad at blogging.
So what happened?
Well, I learned a few things. The most important was that just because you stop eating meat, doesn't mean you aren't eating garbage. I didn't lose a single goddamned pound. That was an unwelcome lesson. Want to know what's largely available to eat once you stop eating meat-based protein? Carbohydrates. They're EVERYWHERE.
Secondly, that bean patties are terrible. Just awful.
Third, that non-meat, non-soy, non-tofu Chik'N brand “chicken nuggets” don't taste half bad. They're pretty much like any kind of bake-'em-in-the-oven nugget you'd get in the frozen foods aisle of the grocery store. Which is to say, salted breading and ketchup. The texture was fine. A corollary; Portobello Mushrooms as a hamburger replacement are FREAKING AMAZING. Seriously. So good. A shout out to Aimee Stewart for the suggestion.
Fourth, there's a lot of things that you can put in Ramen. But at the end of the day, it's still Ramen.
Fifth lesson; It's super-easy to be vegetarian in Portland, Oregon. In the surrounding suburbs like Beaverton and Vancouver? Not so much. Kind of rather difficult, actually. Downtown, it seems like every restaurant has a vegetarian option, and there are whole food carts dedicated to the concept (the Whole Bowl is especially tasty, and I heartily recommend it).
Sixth and most important of all: The enemy of good eating is time.
This is something I already knew, but I'll expound a bit upon it. The old saw is that in our society you can have something quickly, cheaply, or well-made; pick any two. It's doubly true in the case of food. What SHOULD I have been doing, during this month long ordeal? That's an easy one. I should have been carefully shopping for my groceries every few days, then spending the time necessary to cook them up in the evenings while also preparing my lunches going forward. It isn't rocket science.
But that's easy to say when you're not getting up at ungodly hours and home again after nightfall. When you don't have kids or a (giant) pet that needs attention and food and cleaning. When you don't have important projects to tend to, or all those little things demanding your attention each day so that your life doesn't grind to a halt.
So you do what you can, or you compromise and get something cheap and easy.
Ah well. Enough pontificating. It's June now, and I'm having fried chicken.