summer challenge: going veg

1 Jun

I’m in the mood for a summer challenge. Anyone else?

By now, you may have noticed that I tend to be a bit competitive and I LOVE challenges.  So many of the things I enjoy now started as a challenge.

For example:

  • I got into biking because some co-workers were going to ride from Minneapolis to Chicago in the AIDSRide and Brette and two other friends decided we should do it too (I had suggested just volunteering). I didn’t own a bike, had never ridden more than about 5 miles and I had been talked into riding 535 miles in 6 days!  9 years later, I’m a biking freak and don’t think twice about rides of 50-60 miles. I’ll be doing my 5th MS TRAM this summer.
  • I got into running because I wanted my friend Jackie to ride the MS TRAM with me. She would only do it if I agreed to run a 5K. I HATED running so this was a big stretch for me.  I ended up actually enjoying myself – who knew? I did a few more 5ks here and there vowing never to run further because what was the point? 3 years later, our running crazy friends, BK and Carin, talked Brette and I into a ½ marathon in San Francisco.  It was running over the Golden Gate Bridge that sealed the deal. I now really enjoy running and am doing my second half marathon this fall. However, sometimes I still struggle with calling myself a runner.

So this challenge is somewhat similar, but is a bit more of an evolution. Over the past couple of years, I’ve really gotten into studying where my food comes from and what I’m putting into my body. My closest vegetarian friend, Meghan (who is laughing right now that I’m becoming so enlightened), and myself have done many Lenten challenges that have included no high fructose corn syrup, no partially hydrogenated oils and most recently no sugar or sugar substitutes. Through these challenges, my kitchen has changed quite a bit. We eat very little packaged food and I do my best to make most of our meals from fresh, organic and when I can, local foods.

As I’ve been evolving, I have gotten increasingly picky about my meat and where it comes from.  Reading the books, The Omnivore’s Dilemma and Fast Food Nation and watching the documentaries Food, Inc. and Fresh were extremely eye opening for me.  I highly recommend all of them. One of my food goals for 2010 is to only eat meat when I’m aware of where it came from and I’ve been very successful.  I think I’m now ready to take that a step further.

I have found that my body reacts better to less meat in my diet. It’s a lot of work on your body to process meat.  Not to mention how much work and energy it took to get the meat to your plate in the first place.  Your digestive system is much more efficient at digesting plants. There is a reason that there is a growing number of vegetarian and vegan professional athletes – they like to be efficient.

I decided summer would be a good time to try out my hand at going veg because of a couple of reasons.

  1. I have an awesome garden in my backyard that provides so many options for meals.
  2. What I can’t get out of my backyard, the farmer’s market can provide.  The summer months in Minnesota provide so many options!

I know I will have some rough spots. Although the summer is the best time for produce, it is also grilling season. I love grilling. I also love a great grilled burger. Lucky for me I love grilled veggies more.  Plus, I’ve been working on a variety of vegetarian burgers that will hopefully satisfy my burger cravings.

Another potential struggle is spending time with family – I’m not aware of any vegetarians in the immediate family on either side. My in-laws are hunters for pete sake – will this send them into a tailspin? I’m planning to be proactive and plan ahead for events where vegetarian options might not be available. I don’t expect everyone else to change their cooking/eating habits because of my summer challenge.

This includes Brette. I invited him to join me and he was pretty quick to reply that he wasn’t interested. :) Obviously, he’ll eat whatever I make, but I know when it’s his choice or when he’s eating out, meat will most certainly be involved. I absolutely respect that.

With all that said, I do reserve the right to adjust based on special circumstances. And yes, I can pick those special circumstances. They might be things like:

  • Absolutely no other food is available and I might waste away to nothing.
  • If my postpartum best friend and co-blogger who hates entertaining invites me over for a Brazilian meat fest, I will go.
  • When we are in Seattle at the end of August with access to fresh fish, I will enjoy it. I mean, come on!

Other than that, no meat. This also includes fish.  Eggs and dairy are fair game, though a vegan challenge might occur next lent – just throwing that out there.

So, do I have any vegetarians out there? Any advice? Anything you wish you would’ve known when you went veg? Any restaurant recommendations that are veg friendly?

I’ll be posting some of my favorite vegetarian recipes throughout the summer and would love to hear yours!

I kicked it off last night with a great Quinoa Taco Salad that I found here. (I’ve really enjoyed this blog – for those of you looking for more)

15 Responses to “summer challenge: going veg”

  1. chez pat June 1, 2010 at 7:40 pm #

    glad to see you will still eat the gigantic corporate picanha – we will do it soon!

    also – no sea salt? ouch. good luck!

  2. Jackson June 1, 2010 at 7:42 pm #

    Well good for you but that is not something I’m interested in doing but would love some new recipes and that quinoa taco salad looks great.

  3. Donna June 1, 2010 at 8:03 pm #

    Jen,
    Great minds think alike! I don’t know that I will go as far as you are going, but I have decided to eat meat/fish more as a garnish or flavor component just one meal per day. The other meal I will skip meat/fish, so I am sorta there for you, friend!

  4. Steff June 1, 2010 at 9:01 pm #

    That’s awesome!! Goooo Jen!
    I’ve been a veg since last August. It’s hard in MN when I’m with family and can’t eat Grandma’s cooking and whatnot, but everyone is surprisingly understanding and nice about it. My only advice is to keep a Clif bar or something in your purse for when you’re in a rural area and there are literally no veg options except, like, french fries and ice cream. Not that there’s anything wrong with a dinner of french fries and ice cream, of course.

  5. Jen June 2, 2010 at 12:19 am #

    I say go for it, Jen!

    By the way, your blog is wonderful. Waving to Ann and a pat on the back to her as well:)

    xoxo,
    wcj

  6. Monica June 2, 2010 at 6:50 am #

    good luck! I won’t be joining you on this one :) Just make sure that you get enough protein. I think a lot of people go veg without realizing the nutrition aspects of it. Not that meat is all good for you, but it does conveniently provide certain things. I’ve been doing spark people for the bride diet and have been realizing that my veggie burger for dinner is NOT cutting it in terms of protein for the day.

  7. Ann June 2, 2010 at 7:08 am #

    This a quite a challenge. Good for you. This would not be for me, however I am here for support. Good Luck.

  8. Lee June 3, 2010 at 2:58 pm #

    I have dabbled in being a vegetarian while hanging out with a friend who was. I found that I wasn’t missing out on much except bacon and sausage. Now I do eat meat occasionally and I make an effort to buy organic products whenever possible.
    I believe I would be called a flexatarian. It’s not hard , lentils and cottage cheese have lots of protein.

  9. Liza June 3, 2010 at 9:04 pm #

    Aaah! Be sure to eat enough protein but not too much in soy products. Pay attention to how your body reacts including your moods. Good luck!

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