5 Things I Learned Being a Vegetarian

I know several people who are vegetarians and they look pretty healthy. It also seems to be the cool thing to do, so I figured I’d try it out to see if eating meat was overrated. I had already become, according to one person, a “flexetarian,” which is someone who is a vegetarian only half the time – but really that just sounds like someone who wants to be unique so bad that they made up a word. I was only being a “flexetarian” because I was too lazy to pull out the George Foreman grill every night.

With my newfound plan in mind, I went to the grocery store and filled my cart with vegetables and carbs. I got bagged salads, baby carrots, cans of vegetables, rice, and a lot of pasta. I was determined to live a week as a vegetarian and perhaps continue on with that lifestyle if it all went well. But I quickly learned a lot about myself. For example:

5. I Needed a Lot of Flavor

The wonderful thing about eating meat is that there are several sauces you can drizzle on it to make it taste even better. And sure, I could’ve done that with my veggies like I did when I was a kid. After all, corn is great when it’s drowned in butter. Green beans are best when they have a hearty dose of beef bouillon cooked with it. Darryl’s barbecue sauce was the only reason I was ever able to eat peas and rice as a kid.

Just realized they're selling it under this new logo. Might have to slip back into some bad habits.

Just realized they’re selling it under this new logo. Might have to slip back into some bad habits.

As an adult, I tried to limit that. I still put the beef flavoring on the green beans, a vinegary barbecue sauce in my rice, and drowned my carrots in ranch dressing. My signature spaghetti sauce (without the meat) was loaded with all of my secret seasonings. The problem is that it was almost always the same flavor – salty – and having salty rice, followed by salty green beans, followed by salty spaghetti gets really old really fast.

4. It Wasn’t That Much Healthier

When you’re only eating vegetables, which are notorious for lacking in protein, you have to compensate for that deficiency in your diet. And sure, you can drink protein shakes to get your daily dose of protein, but other than that, you have to load up on carbs. The problem with this is that carbs get turned into sugar, which gets turned into fat. So even though I ate pasta four nights out of that week, it’s not like I was eating that much healthier because practically all of it got stored as fat.

poor-obese-kid

No I’m totally healthy. Most of this is water weight.

The only benefit I felt was that I was much more mentally alert. I felt awake and energized. I wasn’t crashing on the unhealthy sugar from sodas and cake. I couldn’t decide if feeling that well mentally was worth sacrificing my own happiness. After all, that’s why caffeine exists – to give you that feeling even if you’ve just eaten unhealthy.

3. I Was Violently Hungry All of the Time

Each morning I would go out for a run. Once I got home, showered, and cooled off, I got really, really hungry – like the kind of hungry where your stomach burns and growls loud enough that the neighbors can hear it. It didn’t matter that I had just drank my protein shake, within minutes I was unbearably hungry.

Suddenly eating the couch cushions didn't seem so outrageous.

Suddenly eating the couch cushions didn’t seem so outrageous.

After lunch, which was usually either some carrots and ranch, a can of vegetables, or a bag of rice, I’d be hungry again 30 minutes later. It didn’t matter how much water I drank or how many pickles I snacked on. The hunger was almost constant, and that’s not fun. At all.

2. I Became Annoying

How can you tell someone is a vegetarian? They’ll tell you. And I told everybody. It was how I started conversations with people. I acted like it was some sort of grand accomplishment, comparable to climbing Mt. Everest. No one even asked what I was up to. I just blurted it out. “Hey so I’m being a vegetarian this week,” I’d say.

“Oh, okay then,” my friends would respond.

Nope.

Nope.

I wasn’t even doing it for a long period of time. I was doing it for a week, and yet I told everyone what I was doing. It was like Tourette’s. I couldn’t help it, and I didn’t like that about myself.

1. I NEEDED MEAT

After lunch on Day 7 I realized I couldn’t do it anymore. I needed meat in the worst kind of way. I needed all that flavor. I needed to rip meat off the bone and I needed it drowned in hot sauce. So I went to KFC – probably the worst possible place to go after you’ve experimented with vegetarianism because of their alleged treatment of their animals – and ordered the biggest bucket of chicken I could with sides, tea, and a cake because I was going to relapse the right way.

Tastiest shame ever.

Tastiest shame ever.

I went home and ate almost all of it. By the end of the night, there were a couple of pieces of chicken left (I got it grilled because I wanted to make one good choice in this) and half a cake. Everything else – the half gallon of tea, the four biscuits, and both large sides of green beans and mashed potatoes – was gone. I was a little ashamed of myself, but it was so delicious.

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