Sunday, July 12, 2009

Veggie Tales Vol. 1: The "Healthy" Stampede

As some of you already know, I've decided to go vegetarian for the month of July. A lot of people have been asking me how this is going so I thought I would add my weekly updates here.

But before I do, I suppose I should explain why I'm doing this. As most readers know, I recently finished the first draft of my first novel, and am now simultaneously preparing it for publication and writing the sequel. One thing I am doing in edits for book 1, is trying to make it better and more relatable. My protagonist is a vegetarian. In order to understand her better, what she eats, how she lives, etc, I am going vegetarian for research purposes. My brother finds this very funny.

I know July actually started a week and a half ago, but I decided to start on Monday so I could just record my progress of four weeks going veggie. Plus I had a family reunion last weekend, I didn't know how easy it would be to suddenly be vegetarian there.

So Monday I started, and so far, I haven't slipped up. There have been a few incidents where I've gone to the fridge, reached for meat, and then suddenly remembered I can't eat it. I was also very worried in starting out that I wouldn't know how to substitute the protein, and get really unhealthy. Here is what I've discovered:

I, like many people, eat way more protein than my body actually needs.

I've read that North Americans actually overestimate how much they need, so a lot of beginner vegetarians fret about this far too much. I've found I feel just fine if I've eaten some grain or nuts.

My dairy consumption has also increased. Usually when I'm craving animal products, I eat a slice of cheese. I've also discovered a renewed love for refried beans, and my mother suggests I should eat more eggs to stay healthy.

To sum up my first week as a vegetarian, I will share my favourite story of going veggie this week.

My friend Colleen, my sister and I went to the Stampede this Tuesday after work. We'd spent some time going on a few of the rides I can stomach, wandered through the stables (my favourite part) and pinpointed the yummy candy apples we wanted to buy on the way out. It was nearly 7, and we were getting hungry. Now here's the thing, I hate Stampede food. While some people find they can indulge in the corn dogs and deep fried jelly beans once a year, I can't stand greasy food at the best of times, let alone in copious amounts at the Stampede. Normally I eat beef on a bun. We'd been looking for food for a few minutes when I remembered I couldn't eat this. Janine and Colleen got their yummy-smelling beef, and I was left looking around going, "Is there anything I can eat here?"

What do you do at the Stampede when you are non-grease eating vegetarian? The answer may seem obvious and depressing: starve. After a few minutes going over the non-existent options, I got frustrated and just declared;

Me: Whatever! I'll just eat when I got home.

Colleen: No, we can't do that. If you don't eat, you'll just get cranky.  (she knows me so well)

Janine: Hey, there's a Mexican stand right there, you could eat nachos. (The idea of corn chips drizzled in syrupy Cheez Wizz makes me pull a ghastly grimace) Or maybe they have a veggie burrito or something.

I check the menu, and sure enough, there is  a vegetarian burrito for the bargain price of $7.50! But it's the only thing we can find, and my stomach is beginning to protest. I shell out the cash, and gain a new appreciation for refried beans. And okay, it's not the greatest thing I've ever eaten, but it filled my stomach until I was eating my candied apple on the way home. Plus, it helped me get to here: 7 days meat-free!

So these are my veggie tales. Tune in next week to hear how I tackled an office lunch, and returned to tofu!


Kylie Groft said...

You are awesome! No doubt about it! I tried to go sugar free for a month and failed after four days! You've already surpassed my best by almost half!

Zoey said...

way to go! I did a month vegetarian experiment a year and a half ago and as you know, I am still at it. So be might become a convert!

Haha anyhow, it's definitely tougher at family gatherings (I did Christmas) but then you get to fill up on delicious stuffing (if it's made outside the turkey and without droppings).

If you're unfamiliar with tofu as a protein, these are my most important tofu tips: ALWAYS press your tofu for about an hour between two plates (top one weighted). And marinate it for at least 10-15 minutes so that it tastes like delicious sauce, not rubbery bean curd.

Unapologetic said...

I couldn't imagine trying to go veggie at the Stampede. Good for you! I on the other hand indulged in mini-donuts, a hot dog AND a funnel cake. Needless to say, my body didn't thank me.

Good luck with your veggie research. I'll send recipes your way if I come across any.

reddy said...

Thanks for the tips Zoey, and Jessica, any recipes you should stumble across would be appreciated.

Kylie, I have to commend you for lasting four days without sugar. When I stopped eating grease everyone thought I would be super healthy now. Needless to say, there are plenty of ways to eat unhealthy without eating grease!

Zoey said...

Ooh also, you may want to check out a vegan cookbook from the library. Anything by Dreena Burton, particularly Vive la Vegan! or Eat, Drink, be Vegam are quite informative. The most common thing vegans/vegetarians get asked is "but how do you get your protein?" And it addresses that, particularly if you get bored of beans and eggs.

Let me know if you want to borrow either of those books, I live near your office so we might be able to coordinate

Janine said...

Don't lie, you were watching me eat my funnel cake and beef on a bun and salivating.

Katey said...

That's why all of my characters are omnivores-like me.
For recipes try "The Enchanted Broccoli Forrest" (how can you not love a ttile like that?") and Dee's cookbooks are always delicious. There's some good vegetarian recipes in "Eat, Shrink and Be Merry" as well.