My Experience as a Temporary Vegetarian

Hello, I’m Kiley, guest blogger to Kelly. Before you start skimming my post, this week I’ve written an interesting story! So don’t skim! You’re missing out! I also added a bunch of pictures to this blog post so it’s pretty long.

Anyway, for this week’s blog post, I decided to go vegetarian for six days. The challenge was pretty daunting at first, as I had never gone a day without eating meat in my entire life. It’s not that hard to believe as I come from a family of omnivores who made sure to always buy and stuff enough meat into my mouth to help me “grow,” become “strong,” and make me “smarter.” Below are a series of diary entries to assist in finding out how successful of a vegetarian I truly was and how the experience shaped me.

Note: Fruit was usually accompanied after dinner. Kiley usually eats two meals per day: brunch and dinner. 

Saturday 5/11
“Oh crap.” I had just eaten a bowl of noodles containing MEAT. More specifically chock full of pork bits, fish balls, fish tofu, and shrimp. I totally forgot to tell my parents about my temporary vegetarian venture as I camped out in Culver City over the weekend. Oh well, time to break out the hamburgers for dinner! “No big deal, I’ll probably start on Sunday,” I told myself, munching on a juicy, luscious hamburger.

Who could resist this sexy beast of a food?

Who could resist this sexy beast of a food? 

Sunday 5/12
“You’re going to die,” my mother warned me as I told her about my venture to vegetarianism. “You need certain vitamins and minerals from meat; only eating vegetables will cause you to die.” Well it was my first official day as a vegetarian. For lunch, I helped cooked a savory turned bland rice porridge as I was forced to take out all meat parts. It was meat that gave the rice porridge character, flavor, and substance. Dinner was a little better, although eating vegetables bundled with meat only stirred my desires for meat. Nevertheless, I got through the day, even as my grandmother lured me into eating meat: “It’s just a little meat, come on fill that bony body,” as she poured bits of pork, chicken, fish, beef, and oysters onto my dinner plate.

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Monday 5/13
“You’re going to run out of energy,” my fathered cautioned as I told him about my vegetarian venture. Well, I thought, at least this is better than not dying. For lunch I ventured onto the Bombshelter Bistro at the North Campus Center. Hunting for affordable vegetarian options proved difficult, but not impossible. I settled for a vegetarian patty melt sandwich at the price of $4.99. I had no idea what was in store for me, so I giddily dug into my sandwich. “Ugh, disgusting! The patty melt tastes horrible!” I told myself. More specifically, bits of carrots, and other mushy, yellowy, vegetables constituted the patty and it tasted, again, disgusting! So I took

the patty out of the sandwich and ate the sandwich with only the cheese and caramelized onions. Later I forced myself to buy fruit juice to supplement my lunch. My famished stomach ravaged my senses as I struggle to pay attention in Econ 2 lecture, choosing instead to wage a war between my brain , stomach, and that lingering aftertaste of that repulsive sandwich.

Dinner cheered me up though, as I ate some awesome vegetarian Chinese food. Brown rice, chives with dried beancurd, and water spinach/Chinese spinach. Nom nom nom Chinese/Taiwanese food. Overall a mildly successful day.

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Tuesday 5/14
“Argghhh misleading labeling!” I said, as I bit into my lunch. For lunch, I decided on the weirdly named “Green Onion Pasta Cake.” It seemed pretty vegetarian so I decided to cook it. Unfortunately for me, when I bit into the “cake”, I was met with bits of meat! Pork to be exact. And then I read the label. There’s meat written in Chinese on the label! The label is only misleading for non-Chinese speakers, I thought to myself. I settled for a cheese sandwich; no way was I going to break my vegetarian pledge. Even if it meant eating a paltry cheese sandwich.

Dinner was a battle to be fought, as Vietnamese pho was served for dinner. This Vietnamese pho not only contained beef, but also was cooked in a beef stew. The pho was an immediate trap as the aromatic smell of beef and spices flew around the kitchen, seducing my sense of smell and entrapping my mind into a mad meat fervor. Much willpower was exerted breaking free of the kitchen and into the safe confines of my room. For dinner, I ate only a salad consisting of romaine lettuce with Chinese sesame dressing.

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Wednesday 5/15
Crawling to class, our hero has just marked her fourth day as a vegetarian. Her muscles weak, eyes bloodshot, legs jello, stomach screaming out for mercy, as the hero makes way into the calculated horror known as “Math 31B”. Three days of vegetarianism and poor sleeping patterns has taken a toll on poor Kiley. Her stomach cries for meat at bedtime and during the day. (3-4 hours after lunch and dinner) No amount of vegetables, carbohydrates, fruits and other food sources can satisfy Kiley’s stomach. As she walked into the dining hall for lunch, she passes the mussels and hamburgers. She grabs the vegetable and grain sources and starts

to munch on them. Eating a piece of lettuce, Kiley contemplates on the existence of vegetarianism. Can human beings really subsist without meat? How am I surviving without meat? Kiley’s palate yearns for more.

Our young hero leaps into the kitchen during dinnertime. Her mind vacillates between another vegetarian meal and suddenly….. Dennys! More specifically, ham sandwiches and fries. Should Kiley eat this sandwich? It’s quite rare that our young hero eats out during dinnertime. Our young hero again contemplates vegetarianism and the vow. Before she could finish contemplation of vegetarianism/existentialism, Kiley rushes to the sandwiches. In a moment of compulsion, our young hero picks up a sandwich, looks it straight in the eye, and promptly devours the sandwich! She has lost sight of the goal as all sandwiches are gone in less than five minutes. Kiley loses the fight between vegetarianism and the seduction of meat. Our hero has yielded her senses and willpower to meat. The vow is broken. Kiley’s vegetarian journey ends on Wednesday, May 15, 2013.

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Thursday 5/16
After that dramatic night, I reverted back to my omnivore habits. Dumplings were the choice for lunch; dinner, noodles. Overall I felt like I was back to normal.

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Conclusion: Vegetarianism is not for me. I’ve always wondered what it was like to be a vegetarian and this week has shown that I’m not fit for this lifestyle choice. These descriptions admittedly paint me as a drama queen but my body pretty much reacted dramatically. It was as if my stomach felt empty, and soulless at every meatless meal no matter how much carbs and vegetables I put in my mouth. I still feel pretty bad about eating meat therefore some meals I can probably skip meat. My parent’s predictions were wrong: I didn’t nearly die nor lose energy. (well Wednesday was sluggish but not total loss of energy) Vegetarianism has taught me to cherish every meaty meal and to balance out my needs as an omnivore. As I sit here eating a meat sandwich, I wonder how Kelly did it. Being vegetarian for a month that is.

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10 thoughts on “My Experience as a Temporary Vegetarian

  1. This is really interesting!! I personally am somehow rather indifferent about omnivore or vegetarianism, but reading other people’s experience as a vegetarian is definitely enlightening.

    One quick thought on the nutrition of vegetarian. I’ve always felt that it would be OK to be a vegetarian since all the nutrition you get from meat all originally comes from certain plants. But later I do notice in an article that certain proteins and vitamins, though in a small number, could only be found in meat or in vegetables. Thus I agree with you. We need a balanced diet to keep ourself not only physiologically healthy but also mentally happy!

    • Oh thanks! (This is Kiley btw) There are certainly people who have never touched meat in their entire lives and are currently living very enriching lives (Buddhist monks come to mind), but my family has never done it. Meat has always been an important part of my life.

  2. This is really interesting. I like the breakdown of it, and I think it’s pretty easy to relate to. I remember my switch is pretty rocky, and I certainly don’t think vegetarianism is for everyone, for all times, or all places. Thanks for sharing!

  3. It’s definitely difficult to become a vegetarian so kudos to Kelly! But, Kiley, I think you should use your 6-day adventure as a learning experience. Give vegetarianism another shot in the future and change things that went wrong the first time ☺ For example, it’s a lot easier to ease into vegetarianism rather than decide to completely stop eating meat. Reduce your meat intake gradually so your body can get used to it. It’s also helpful to research recipes/restaurants (there’s Greenhouse at Ackerman Union) beforehand and make a weekly meal plan that you can stick to. If you’re serious about becoming vegetarian, you might even want to consult a nutritionist or research the nutrient supplements that you will need. I am by no means a vegetarian, but I had a similar experience when I decided to live off of a CSA box for a whole week (didn’t work out). I got a lot of produce that I had no idea how to cook so my meals for that week tasted awful.

    • Thanks for the advice! I definitely should have taken it gradually instead of an abrupt change because my annoying body always reacts to even slight changes made in my routine. Oh haha I guess I’ll keep that advice in handy if I ever order from a CSA. Hmmm yes I should have done research instead of being naive and romanticizing the idea of vegetarianism.

  4. Pingback: My experience as a Temporary Vegetarian. | Foodie Connoisseur

  5. I have tried to become a vegetarian for a week as well and I went through the same difficulties as you Kiley! I had a type of craving for meat when I was a “vegetarian” and the want for it was so overwhelming that I caved. I could not believe how hard it was for me to not eat meat for a week. A month later, I gave vegetarianism another try and trust me after the first week it gets easier. I stuck to a “no meat” diet very well, but after a month I reverted back to my carnivore ways and ate meat again. If you really want to try vegetarianism I advise you to try it again. I think that it was a good experience for me, but I know that I will never permanently become a vegetarian.

  6. Though I am not completely vegetarian, and I was pretty strict for a while, I treat meat as a sort of indulgence. I’ve found a lot of foods that are generally pretty satisfying, at least much more than lettuce. Peanut butter, hummus, and avocados are my main staples. Of the Northern Lights venture you speak of, there is a pretty good place (I forget the name, its in the center, back) that has flavorful veggies that make for a lovely and inexpensive meal.

  7. This was definitely an interesting read!

    I also had my own experience with vegetarianism as I elected to give up meat chicken and fish for 40 days during lent season. I definitely agree that there were days I went to bed unsatisfied regardless of how many hollow calories I had consumed. However I stuck to it and adapted.

    It was definitely tough because like you my family has a tendency to indulge in meat on almost a daily basis. However my parents were supportive of my cause and always provided veggie alternatives.

    I also applaud Kelley and her determination to see this through! Having experienced something similar I can truly appreciate what she is going through and admire all full time vegetarians.

  8. This is so interesting! I tried to be vegetarian for four days and I finally gave up because they were too little options for me in the dinning hall (salads became the main food). However, when I tried vegetarian week in China, everything was easier. There were many different ways to cook delicious vegetables. I still remember my mother also told me that I would run out of energy if I didn’t eat meat for one week. It was hard at first but after the first three struggling days, it became acceptable for me.

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