Ambassador Jenn writes about her month-long experiment being vegetarian and what it means for her future food choices.
I have been struggling with my food choices for a long time. Being a personal finance blogger usually leads me down the path of being frugal, but sadly the cheapest item is usually not the most ethical.
My husband and I decided to go vegetarian for the month of September. Although we are no strangers to eating vegetarian and/or plant-based (we were mostly vegetarian for all of 2017), this time we wanted to approach it differently. In 2017 we struggled with meal ideas and ended up eating unhealthy or prepackaged food out of convenience. This time we wanted to make a plan, and hopefully, reduce our food waste in the process.
Why Eat Vegetarian?
There are so many reasons to eat less meat (or none at all). First of all, billions of animals are killed each year for human consumption, and most animals are not raised in a humane way; living their short lives in cages before becoming our food.
Raising animals to eat also has a huge environmental impact. The animals raised take huge amounts of resources like water and land, and animal agriculture produces methane, a greenhouse gas that is much more destructive than C02.
Most vegetarian meals are healthier; including more vegetables in your diet has a whole host of nutritional benefits, and eating whole foods means less plastic packaging.
Read More: The Environmental Impact of Meat Consumption (University of British Columbia)
Meal planning has always helped us stay on budget and not argue about “what’s for dinner?!” every night. Our first venture into being vegetarians was difficult because we didn't have a meal plan in advance. We ate a lot of pasta and bread, and not as much nutritional food.
This time we wrote down some of our favourite already vegetarian meals, then brainstormed on how to make our current favorites vegetarian (chicken tikka masala became tofu tikka masala, for example). I researched on Pinterest and found lots of new recipes to try, and this time we ate a lot more nutritionally!
When eating vegetarian, it’s really easy to fall into the trap of eating pre-packaged and processed foods. Although they are really convenient, and mostly taste good, they are not ideal when you are trying to decrease your plastic consumption.
One of the staples in our vegetarian diet is lentils. We’ve made several recipes and most of them have been really yummy. Lentils are high in protein, fibre, iron, folate and complex carbs. They are naturally gluten free and low in fat and calories. One of the best parts is you can usually buy them in bulk with your own containers, or buy canned lentils. Aluminium cans are much more recyclable than plastic, making them a better choice in the case where you can’t avoid packaging.
Of course vegetables are a great choice, and you can usually find options without packaging.
Our Fav Recipes
Like I said, we cooked a lot with lentils; one of our favorite recipes is Lentil Dal, an Indian dish with lots of spices served with rice and naan.
We also loved lemony lentil soup, and it’s the perfect soup now that the weather is chilly again. Speaking of soup, my favorite is French Onion, but traditionally that is made with beef broth. My French Onion Soup recipe is vegetarian and made in the crock pot!
So, Are We Vegetarians?
Not quite. We did return to eating some meat at the beginning of October. I’d like to continue down the vegetarian path, and also start buying our meat from local sources instead of the grocery store.
Currently, she can be found exploring Nova Scotia, drinking locally roasted coffee and baking fall treats.