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Fat Guy

Vegetarian for a week

178 posts in this topic

A bit of a cheat, but a little liquid smoke will impart a subtle smoky taste that might help scratch that itch (for people who really like their greens that way).

Smoked paprika and smoked salt are options too.

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Of course desserts tend to be vegetarian...

IMG_20110714_210417.jpg

What is the shiny thing on the right over the (is that?) rhubarb? Is it edible, or metal? Thanks.

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Last night I had bratwurst. I have to look back at the timeline, but I'm pretty sure I have not successfully gone seven days without eating animal flesh, although I have done many more than seven days. I still intend to shoot for a seven-day stretch, though I already see problems with accomplishing that this coming week.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I went 8 days in all; it was not that much of a stretch for me. Here’s a rundown (I posted about the first two days above). I’ve been eating very light because of the heat so some of the meals were just snacks.

For day 3 I had a Sabitch Baguette at Saba’s Kosher Café (Dairy) - grilled eggplant, hard-boiled egg, Israeli salad (diced cuke/tomato/bell pepper) with hummus and hot sauce (Yemeni Skhug is what they use I think) on a toasted baguette. Very good and very filling.

Day 4 - one queso y loroco and 2 queso y ayote pupusas, plus curtido muy picante and salsa picante. Squash pupusas are not that common.

Day 5 - samosas from Savoy Tika Kabob Restaurant and Grocery (Pakistani) - potatoes and peas and spices, plus garlic chutney and date/tamarind chutney.

Day 6 - jury duty - made a wrap at home with markouk from Cedar’s bakery, vegetarian shrimp (made from milk whey protein), lettuce, cucumber and daikon.

Day 7 - Dabeli at Shiv Sagar. On the way out the door saw the sign advertising the Gujarati thali lunch special at Neeta’s in the same shopping center so I went back on day 8 for that.

Neeta’s was the only place all week I hadn’t been before. I typically hit one or two new places a week because I like trying new things/places. That was one problem with the week - it got a little boring and predictable for my taste. I made the same mistake at home; other than the wrap, I relied on well-used recipes for gazpacho, greens, soups, etc. when I should have been trying some new things to keep it more interesting.

I can’t say that I learned much. I didn’t think I’d have much trouble doing it and didn’t. I had serious meat cravings only once; on the way to jury duty in the afternoon on day 6, I passed the exit I would take to Frenchy’s, our local Creole fried chicken place that is much better than Popeye’s, and thought briefly how good some fried chicken would be for dinner. I took a different route home to be safe.

I was surprised at the diminished cravings for sweets, maybe because I didn’t really have any spicy foods, except for the curtido at the pupuseria, all week?

For day 9 I pan broiled a fish filet at home then went to try a sample of the chili at a new honest-to-goodness chili parlor in my neighborhood (chili parlors are very rare in Texas these days) but on day 10 I went back to Pine Forest Garden for a couple more plates of the Buddhist vegetarian fare. That place will be a favorite.

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Last night I was at a deli and couldn't control myself. I'm hoping to claw my way back on to the wagon today.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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A great veggie breakfast or lunch is mashed avocado on toast ( essentially a good guacamole with chunkier bits of tomato and onion) if you have fresh corn I add some of that too. Also pittas stuffed with a chunky salsa with tomato, red onions, cucumber, pepperdew sweet peppers and grilled halloumi. Last night I stopped by a sandwich shop near my house and had halloumi, mint, olive and tomato with some extra avocado which was great. I also like making melanzane parmigiana or stuffed squash with plenty if veggies in the hollowed out part with cumin, coriander and fennel rubbed over the top and finished with a bit of cheese. Ohh and eggs florentine for dinner just seems even more decadent than at brunch (I'm weird don't ask me why!)


"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

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Bruce - what is a pupusa as a matter of interest?


"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

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Can I ask FG, given the difficulty of sticking to the 7-day veggie rule, why are you continuing with the attempt? Are you learning anything from this? Are you enjoying it?

(Not intending to be inflammatory in any way, you understand. I certainly couldn't do it!)

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I did a similar 'challenge' a number of years ago, triggered by me eating a completely tasteless, intensively farmed bit of chicken, as it was all they had at the local shop. It was a reflex buy - I felt I had to have some sort of meat to make it a 'meal'. So The idea was to lose that reflex, with the full intention of going back to meat, but seeing it as just one part of my diet, a treat that is worth spending extra on. I think I must have posted about this at the time, but can't find it now. I did it for 3 months (Timed to end at Christmas!) A week seems quite short to me, I quite often go that long without thinking about it.

My rules were

- No 'Meat substitutes', If I am going veggie, I will be eating vegetables!

- Try to cook as much as possible, whole point was to pick up new recipes.

- If I eat out, and none of the vegetarian options appeal, then that's ok (I don't eat out a lot anyway). But no eating out somewhere on purpose to get a meat fix!

In the end, I never had to invoke the eating out clause, the only places I ate out were indian and middle eastern places (Oh and a pizza), so as you would expect, not a problem! The great new vegetarian indian in southampton hadn't opened at that point unfortunately, which would have been even better,

Things I learned were

- I really like vegetables, and most pulses.

- I do not like Buckwheat.

- I have no idea how I would have coped combining it with low carbs (Not that I would of course..)

- The only meat I really craved was cured meats, a bit of bacon or chorizo would have been lovely.

- I did miss fish. And especially Anchovies.

- Indian food is your friend.

- Autumn is a great time to do it. Mushrooms, Squashes etc are great, plus you actually want to eat steaming bowls of lentils etc. Farmers market was good, although the game stalls were calling me!

Now, I still don't eat a lot of meat (Dispite my signature!) I don't always source it as carefully as I would like, time and cash poor at the moment, maybe I need to try again (Maybe a summer - harvest time challenge this time)


Edited by Carlovski (log)

I love animals.

They are delicious.

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Steven, I would echo Simon. In your original post you identified health, ethical and environmental reasons as all contributing to your desire to try eating a veg diet, and you promised to elaborate, so I would like to know more about what is compelling you to do something that your body seems to be resisting.

For me, I find that cravings for various foods can say a lot about those foods and a lot about what your body really needs. I had to give up certain foods/drinks for a number of years, and discovered that I tolerated and grew not to miss some of them, but others I desperately desired. For instance: chocolate, coffee, red wine, citrus, tomatoes. I discovered that my desire for chocolate and red wine lessened as time went by, but my desire for tomatoes and sour fruits simply skyrocketed, to the point that I would look at my husband's pyramid of grapefruits and burst into tears. I was a vegetarian for a number of years, but when I hit menopause my body clearly wasn't happy with that, and I started eating modest amounts of beef, chicken and fish.

When it comes to animal protein I have mostly environmental concerns, and ethical to a certain degree. But I find that my general feeling of health decreases with long periods of no animal protein. When it comes to health, I have definite proof in my cholesterol numbers that eating foods high in animal fat like ice cream, cheese, fatty meats etc have a negative impact. I understand that just as consuming less salt lowers blood pressure in some individuals and not for others, I know there are genetic factors that affect cholesterol levels. That could easily be true when it comes to eating meat and fish. Some of us may need those types of protein more than others. The only way I am comfortable with this is to acknowledge my own health needs, and try to eat environmentally sustainable foods. I'm of the camp that believes animals feel pain (and that includes lobsters) so I know that there are ethical issues which I must sacrifice for health ones.

If I were like my two brothers in law, who both eat a strict veg diet which includes mountains of dairy fat and tofu, I might be happy eating no meat, but frankly that doesn't seem like a sensible idea, given my particular issues.

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I agree a great deal with what Katie Meadow says. Vegetarianism doesn't necessarily equate with good health and happiness for some people. The two long-time vegetarians I know began vegetarian diets when they were teenagers. They hated the heavy feeling of meat in their bodies. One of them ate fish when she was pregnant. Her body was saying, Eat more protein! Although vegetarianism works for these people, both of them have had periodic problems with their joints. I was told that the lesser degree of protein in the vegetarian diet can sometimes lead to problems with cartilage in the joints. Don't know if that's true--again, just something I was told.

I had my fling with vegetarianism in the 1970s, the natural foods era. The affair lasted about 6 months. It ended when I missed animal protein too much, and the vegetarian diet didn't seem worth it. Vegetarianism and I parted ways, and I never looked back. One thing I learned from my experiment, though: vegetarianism requires serious everyday cooking to make it work. I had to expand my repertoire of Asian and Indian vegetarian dishes to keep the food interesting, and I had to commit to far more time cooking, too. Veggies take time to prep. The vegetarians I know are all very good old-fashioned cooks, and superb improvisational cooks--no surprise there.

Vegetarianism touches on some important issues, no doubt about it. How are we raising our sources of meat? How much meat should we be eating anyway? Eating more plants and less meat sounds like a good idea to me. I won't go back to a vegetarian diet, but I have thought about doing Meatless Mondays. That sounds like a system that would be more bearable and doable for me.

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Health: While I think animal protein is beneficial for growing children, I'm not convinced that it has any health upside for a 42-year-old man. I also have spoken to several people who, after eliminating meat, have had improved health. It's hard for me to ignore that.

Ethical: At this point in history it seems unnecessary for animals to die to feed me.

Environmental: Meat production is a huge waste of energy. Whatever the impacts are of using more energy -- there are a few -- producing meat amplifies them.

That being said, I have not done that well with sticking to a vegetarian diet even for a week.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Bruce - what is a pupusa as a matter of interest?

A thick, hand-formed, filled corn tortilla, typically about 4" in diameter formed by slapping back and forth between the palms of the hands, griddled on both sides. Once it cools enough to pick it up, you put some of the curtido - a mildly fermented Central American cabbage and carrot slaw - on top and fold it up and eat it like a soft taco. It's similar to a quesadilla but the filling is completely enclosed.

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It's similar to a quesadilla but the filling is completely enclosed.

Almost sounds like the construction of an empanada but cooking the bread portion first.


Porthos Potwatcher
The Once and Future Cook

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Steven, you make a great case for simply cutting back on animal protein--at least to start with. Maybe eating it only two or three times a week, max? If a vegetarian diet can make a person feel healthier, as your friends say, then it stands to reason that eating mostly veg will make you feel mostly better. Fewer critters will die to grace your table, and being choosy about sources can at least go some distance toward a more environmentally friendly diet. Your body might adjust over time and start to like it. Cold turkey may not be the best way to change a diet that your body is used to.

For me, having strict rules just promotes anxiety. Sometimes I find that just knowing I'm allowed to eat something is enough to make me not crave it.

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Health: While I think animal protein is beneficial for growing children, I'm not convinced that it has any health upside for a 42-year-old man. I also have spoken to several people who, after eliminating meat, have had improved health. It's hard for me to ignore that.

Ethical: At this point in history it seems unnecessary for animals to die to feed me.

Environmental: Meat production is a huge waste of energy. Whatever the impacts are of using more energy -- there are a few -- producing meat amplifies them.

That being said, I have not done that well with sticking to a vegetarian diet even for a week.

I have not have time to read thru this entire thread so it may have been said before. But eating mostly vegetarian certainly goes along way to dealing with the health and environmental issues. That is the way my family eats. While we can't seem to go completely vegetarian, we eat very little meat. From an ethical perspective, I have been striving to buy the meat we eat from local farms. This also greatly reduces the health and environmental impacts from eating meat. Unfortunately, it takes more time to buy locally sourced meats and it certainly is more expensive. I try to overcome my miserly ways by realizing that the higher cost for the meat is more than offset by how little meat we eat. It is a weekly battle with my ingrained frugal nature.

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I agree a great deal with what Katie Meadow says. Vegetarianism doesn't necessarily equate with good health and happiness for some people. The two long-time vegetarians I know began vegetarian diets when they were teenagers. They hated the heavy feeling of meat in their bodies. One of them ate fish when she was pregnant. Her body was saying, Eat more protein!

I agree with listening to what your body is telling you, but I think it's worth trying to satisfy that craving with something that fits within your dietary requirements before giving up. Also, after only a day or two of not eating meat, I would argue that a craving can also be just that - a craving (or a desire for something comfortable or comforting), vs. necessarily being what your body "needs".

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For me, having strict rules just promotes anxiety. Sometimes I find that just knowing I'm allowed to eat something is enough to make me not crave it.

I'm the opposite - not having some kind of rule (even if it's arbitrary) makes it more difficult.

And since I'm vegetarian voluntarily, I don't tend to feel resentful as I might if the rule were forced on me.

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My sister, a huge meat eater started doing meat free Mondays a year or so ago and tries to eat veggie at lunch times during the week do wherever possible


"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

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Who picked the Meatless Monday thing? Was it Mario Batali? I'll take a leap and figure that Mario's family is Roman Catholic and his folks probably did meatless Fridays before Vatican II. Is the Meatless Monday for the sake of alliteration? A jab at being inclusive even though Catholics don't keep Fridays as a fast day any longer except during Lent? It bugs me for some reason.

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I believe the Meatless Monday and Wheatless Wednesday campaigns date back to World War I.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Thanks, Steven.

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