For each month of this year, and maybe for years after this one, I am engaging in a Something New Everyday. This means that for a month I adhere to a new habit. Last month it was Vegetarianism.
I’m glad I did. Here’s what I found to be the top rewards of going meat-free for the month:
1. Fewer Choices is Sometimes a Good Thing. When shopping or cooking, a few staples are off the table. When eating out, it simplifies ordering, since anything with the headline Steak, Chicken, Carne and so forth, is out.
It forces you to forage in places you might not usually go. This can result in new and unexpected delights. Scrumptious avocado sandwiches. Vegetable bisque. Tofu pad thai, don’t you know, rocks.
2. Culinary Creativity Increased Immediately. On more than one occasion during Vegetarian month I had to hit the books and cooking sites to figure out what I could pull together with a brick of tofu, a bag of brown rice and a heap of vegetables. (You know you want to come over for dinner.)
Who knew that vegan chickpea soup could be so damn creamy and luscious? And Dr. Praeger’s California Veggie Burgers? Very nice. Meat is an easy standby, but without it you have to get creative and try unexpected things for flavor and density.
3. Significant Weight Loss. Confession: I have been horrid at working out lately. But the no-meat diet alone trimmed 7 pounds off my frame. That’s a lot in my book. A big reason for this has to do with the fact that not eating meat means no more late-night visits to the drive-through for a burger and french fries. Vegetarian month is over but I don’t miss them.
4. Oily Skin, Begone. I find meat to be dense. It tastes dense. It seems oily, too. Eating as a vegetarian for the month resulted in the feeling that my skin was more balanced. It looked better and pores seemed nicer, less likely to be clogged. After eating, I never felt bogged down or stuffed in body or mind. It was nice.
5. That Clean Kitchen Feeling. With the exception of ordering a cup of soup with a chicken-stock base, I have not resumed a full-time carnivore diet. I’m not sure I will. I don’t miss anything about it. On the cooking front, there is something about handling and cutting up meat that doesn’t seem quite appealing, either. Handling vegetables, boiling noodles and dicing up stir-frys feels more pleasant overall.