I’ve been a vegetarian for a number of years now. It’s been an interesting journey; especially because a lot of people don’t understand how a marathon runner can perform efficiently without eating meat. I’m here to say… it’s possible!
For me, being vegetarian didn’t start out as being about animal welfare, or the health of the planet. It was simple: I didn’t like the texture of red meat. The smell of cooking bacon was one I never appreciated, and when I was pregnant with my youngest, the taste of chicken was enough to make me want to vomit (probably TMI!). That said, it was harder to give up fish (and I still struggle sometimes – especially when I’m home where it’s fresh off the boat!).
While it wasn’t initially about those things, being vegetarian has made me far more aware and outspoken about the cruelties in the meat industry, and the environmental benefits of plant-based eating. So much so, I’ve been experimenting more and more with a vegan diet.
Even so, cutting out meat, replacing it with plant protein, and being mindful of not filling my diet with empty carbs was a bit of trial and error – especially as a distance runner. It meant a little more planning for those post long-run meals (and woe be the person who eats my leftovers on a long run day!)
Here are a few tips that may help you if you’re thinking about going veggie:
- You don’t need to go all or nothing at first. Replace a meal each day for a week or so. As with any new thing, making it a habit takes time
- Practice Meatless Mondays – get into a habit started during the war as a necessary way to ration more expensive ingredients like meat
- Pick up a delicious new cookbook that appeals to you. My favourites? Oh, She Glows: Vegan Recipes to Glow from the Inside Out, Forks Over Knives: The Cookbook, and Plenty
- Go for flavour! Vegetables and plant proteins need not be flavourless! Think about cuisines from different parts of the world that are not only vegetarian, but flavourful
- Don’t rely on prepackaged meals or fake meats for every meal or snack. Same as meat-based ready meals, they often contain excessive amounts of sodium and chemicals. I’m not saying I’m not a sucker for a good prepackaged bean burrito or frozen pizza now and again, but the 80/20 rule still applies
- But… don’t shy away from precut or frozen vegetables. Precut fresh vegetables may cost a little more, but if it means you’re more likely to use them, buy them. Frozen veggies are great to keep on hand for stir frys or even as quick sides (and in the middle of winter, they tend to be less expensive than fresh veggies)
- A little meal planning and prep goes a long way. I tend to plan my meals on Friday/Saturday, and shop on Sunday morning. Sunday afternoon tends to be the day I do things like slice carrot sticks, scramble or bake some tofu, make a few jars of overnight oats, etc. It may take a couple of hours, but it pays dividends in time all week
I love trying new recipes, and enjoy hearing from my readers. Do you have any delicious go-to vegetarian recipes? Share ‘em! Have any questions about making the switch from omnivore to herbivore? Ask away!