Deciding On A Meat-Free Diet?

I know this is about the 3rd or 130th post regarding being a vegetarian and I apologize in advance but it’s sort of like buying a new car.  Once you own that car and are driving around your area you notice that make/model more than ever before.  This is what is happening to me as I gravitate toward articles, blogs, books about being a vegetarian.  I am immersed in it, and I have to say I love it.

That being said I came across an article in the Chicago Sun-Times regarding how one should approach a meat-free diet.  Their point is to do it gradually.  I on the other hand like everything else in life did it like a bull in a china shop.  Nope, no meat for me here.  Did not do a Meatless Monday or a Tempeh Tuesday or a Wheat Filled Wednesday or maybe the Fruit Only Friday….no, no, no and no.  Just dropped meat….well that is not 100% true.  I ate seafood for about two weeks before that went the way of the dinosaur.

Now after reading this article it has a great point.  People should approach it in a controlled manner.  It will lead to success a lot more often than the cold turkey approach I took.  I am copying and pasting a portion of the article here, but if you want to read it in it’s entirety please click [HERE]


Approach meat-free diet gradually

By AMY HOWELL HIRT Apr 26, 2011 12:48PM


The health benefits of a plant-based diet have become the talk of the town recently, as celebrity news followed the vegan-to-vegetarian diets of Hollywood starlets like Natalie Portman, and vegetarian adaptations appeared for the first time on the newly updated Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

In part, the buzz is happening because of research that supports that consuming more fruits and vegetables and less meat can help reduce the risk of chronic disease and obesity.

A recent study financed by the National Institutes of Health and conducted by Dr. Neal Barnard, a clinical researcher and founder of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, found that a low-fat vegan diet was three times more effective at lowering high blood sugar than the American Diabetes Association’s standard diet.

But for many people, just the thought of removing hamburgers, chicken sandwiches or fish fillets from the menu is enough to induce panic. And parting with eggs, dairy and any food that contains an animal product — to go completely vegan — seems like a hopeless amount of work.

But veggie veterans say incorporating plant-based eating habits and reducing meat and dairy consumption isn’t much different from watching your intake of saturated fat or cutting back on carbs.

It doesn’t require banishing favorite meals. It just takes a little time to think about them in a different way.

“You don’t have to go cold turkey, and you don’t have to eat cardboard,” said Scott Watson, who, along with his wife, Ceal, began following a vegetarian diet in 2001 and then a vegan diet in 2009.

Some tips for giving it a try, from those who have been there and ate that.

† Ease into it. Establishing different eating habits — whether it’s low fat or low meat, takes time. For long-term success, it shouldn’t be viewed as an all-or-nothing change.

As I mentioned I jumped into the water with both feet and not a thought as to going gradual.  That is just not my style but it has worked for me.  That being said you should make the change gradually and start with a Meatless Monday.  The meal can be as simple as pasta with broccolini, tomatoes and olives with either a red sauce (homemade of course) or just a touch of olive oil with oregano.  Simple and yet satisfying.

† Make substitutes. One of the easiest ways to introduce yourself to vegetarian and vegan eating habits is to incorporate a meat substitute into one of your regular meals.

I am all about the substitutes.  I cook with Tempeh (BDD’s favorite ingredient), I enjoy Seitan but oddly enough my experience with Tofu is not at the top of the list but I will use it.  These simple substitutes will make you think that you are actually eating meat so long as you season properly.

† Branch out. Plenty of protein options beyond soy substitutes are available. Black bean burritos are fast and easy, and lentils work well in soups and salads. Mexican bulgur pilaf is one of the Watsons’ favorite at-home meals.

Black Bean Burritos are incredible (as a matter of fact that is what is on the menu tonight) and super easy to make.  Think about this.  Get a can of beans and rinse and drain.  Put in a pot and boil then smash with chipotle, salsa verde, red onion and mushrooms.  Wrap in a tortilla and cover with more salsa verde.  Into the oven at 350* until the tortillas get browned on the edges.  Remove and eat.  Hello to heaven on a plate (OK, I just drooled on my keyboard.)  Seriously it could not be any easier.  Like the commercial once said….try it you’ll like it.

Both Watson and Andrew said discovering new meals has been equally satisfying.

“One of the biggest advantages is that I’ve discovered more flavors and more recipes,” Watson said. “People think this is more restrictive, but for me, it’s liberating because I put more thought into it.”

There are more quotes in the article but for me this was the best one.  I have found my energy, inspiration and creativity again since I have switched.  I love being in the kitchen creating meals from seemingly nothing.  The best part for me is I don’t have to pre-plan too much because I don’t have to take meat out of the freezer to defrost while I am at work.  Or worse yet defrost in the microwave and accidentally start cooking it.

I can go from fridge to plate in under 30 mninutes and that for me is time well spent and saved….so that I can write to you about it.

By the way here is my dinner from two nights ago after my 1.5 hour trainer ride.  Yup, Pancake Cupcakes.

Pancake Cupcakes

Will you give vegetarianism a try?  And if so will jump into the pool with both feet or do it gradually?


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  1. Tonia says:

    I stopped eating “meat from animals with feet” as I call it in December. I still have seafood about once a week. Eventually, I would like to drop that too, but honestly, I LOVE seafood and I’m not sure I can part ways. I have incorporated meat substitutes – Quorn is a personal favorite, Tofu is a no-go and I just bought Tempeh today after reading about it repeatedly in your posts. What’s your favorite way to prepare it?
    Tonia recently posted..I am a runner My Profile

    • Jason says:

      Tonia –

      My favorite way to make it is Buffalo Tempeh (like chicken wings) and you can find that by searching my site.

      I have recently started to crumble my tempeh and use it as a ground meat in stews, chili, tacos, red sauce and it is great. Don’t forget that you have to marinate/season the tempeh and the longer you marinate the more the flavor sinks in and the more potent it becomes.


  2. Karen says:

    I could definitely go vegetarian, I think the thing holding me back is that my husband is a meat and potatoes type eater so I feel like I would be making two meals all the time. I may give it a go and just see … I am with you, cold turkey probably would work best in my life. Seems like if you allow yourself a little bit, it would eventually creep back in.
    Karen recently posted..Two week Triathlon Training Plan…My Profile

  3. Scott says:

    I have gone veggie lunch, I will start with that

  4. Natasha says:

    I had cut everything out except for seafood at once then that followed a little under a year later. My brother did it cold turkey! I love that I have become so much more creative and knowledgeable in the kitchen since becoming vegetarian!
    Natasha recently posted..Too Much Yumminess &amp Not enough Running!My Profile

  5. Natasha says:

    I quit everything except for seafood at once and that followed a little under a year later and it’s been 8 years since then. My brother went cold turkey and it’s been 9 years for him. I love how creative and knowledgeable it has made me in the kitchen since becoming vegetarian!
    Natasha recently posted..Too Much Yumminess &amp Not enough Running!My Profile

  6. Jill says:

    Pancake cupcakes?? Oh man, yummy!!!
    I don’t eat meat very often, but I find it’s the best way to get in my protein.
    Jill recently posted..On This Date- Past- Present and FutureMy Profile

    • Jason says:

      Oh Jill — you need to dive into them. They are so good. I am going to post a recipe to them in this week’s newsletter.

  7. Kovas says:

    There are so many meat replacement products now that I think you can jump right in, though replacing those meat replacers with whole foods is a little more tricky.
    Kovas recently posted..Sidi Zephyr Carbon Road Bike ShoesMy Profile

  8. Post college I gave up eating meat for several years-it was not an ethical choice or anything like that but one biology class on parasites just plain old grossed me out and that was it. I did eat fish and shellfish but animal flesh was out. Then one day I ate a pc of filet on a dare and started eating meat again.
    I love veggies and have yet to find one I don’t like. I could very easily cut meat out of my diet and be just fine with it…but at this time in my life the chicken is staying LOL! We have meatless meals here quite often though…If I were to go back to vege I would just do it-no gradual anything about it. How can you be a part time vegetarian?? It would all go-
    MilesMusclesMom recently posted..Lil Miss GU Getter giveaway!My Profile

  9. …oh,
    or if you did all the cooking for me. I would not say a peep about no meat :D
    MilesMusclesMom recently posted..Lil Miss GU Getter giveaway!My Profile

    • Jason says:

      LOL…..part-time vegetarian is a locto-ovo vegetarian, or a pescetarian….and the new definition of a flexitarian. I guess…..

  10. Marlene says:

    To be perfectly honesty, vegetarianism is not something I have considered. Will I down the road? Who knows? I am definitely trying more vegetarian options since reading your blog since you have so many fantastic ideas & recipes!
    Marlene recently posted..Week 16My Profile

  11. Kevin says:

    Have you ever added rice to your burritos? We’ll often do rice and bean burritos for a change. Usually use re-fried beans instead of black beans though. We’ll have to try black beans next time.

    The chili picture reminds me of a Big Bang Theory episode from this season. Can’t find a clip of it unfortunately. “Sheldon: Then it’s not chili. Real chili has no beans in it. But you are from a foreign land, so your ignorance is forgiven.”
    Kevin recently posted..Bike Ride &amp BaileyMy Profile

    • Jason says:

      I have added rice in the past, but I get so full because of all the carbs in the rice, beans and tortilla. I guess eating three without the rice compared to two with the rice is a better choice for me?

      I will certainly add it in the future now that you brought it up.

  12. Laura says:

    i totally agree that going veg should be a gradual process….but like you, ive gone (ahem…) cold turkey. it was a knee jerk reaction to watching food inc. ive had people tell me to just eat organic meat or humane meat….really??? is there any “humane” way to slaughter an animal??? i digress….it has been a difficult transition and this is only day 6. i know i have a high risk for failure, but im trying to learn all i can. definitely not the best way to go about this!!!! but im reading a lot from your blog and others. thanks for posting this!!!
    Laura recently posted..Pearl iZUMi Infinity LD Shorts ReviewMy Profile

    • Jason says:

      It gets easier. Please feel free to contact me with questions and I will do my best to help you out as much as I can. Keep at it.

  13. Melissa says:

    I stopped eating meat in February. I saw the Oprah Vegan episode and I just decided that I was ready. I can not tell you how great I feel and the 4lb weight loss was an extra perk. I’m not going to lie, it’s a lot of work. My husband and 4 year old daughter are still meat eaters so some nights I’m making 3 different meals. I do like how I am forced to think about the components of a meal and if I’ve got the right amount of carbs, proteins, greens etc. Being “mindful” about my diet has spilled over into all areas of my life especially with my running.

    I don’t think I’ll ever eat meat again and I see myself living a vegan life in the future. In the meantime, I just need to figure out how to get the rest of my family on board. Any suggestions?


  14. Michael says:

    I jumped in with both feet and just gave up meat. Of course like I’ve said before I don’t consider myself vegetarian, but I’ve only had meat 3 times (and it was a very small quantity) in the last 3 months. I love the vegetarian thing….now I just need to give up SUGAR!! I’m doing that in May.
    Michael recently posted..Running on Empty – SickMy Profile


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