Help: I Think I’m Going Vegetarian for Lent!

2013.02.04 Help I Think I'm Going Vegetarian for Lent

That, my friends, is a Jucy Lucy. A cheeseburger with bubbling hot cheese magma waiting to burst forth as bubbling hot cheese lava coating the surface of your tongue, lips, and cheek as you bite into the delicious 100% all-American ground beef. And did I mention the fried onions on top? Or dipping french fries into the burger for cheesy goodness?

2013.02.04 Help I Think I'm Going Vegetarian for Lent Homer

It’s a beautiful thing.

A few weeks ago, I asked people to give me tips on how to eat more plants and eat less meat. I’m hoping some of you out there can help me prepare for a bigger step. I’m given a lot of thought to how to go about lifestyle adjustments and I know me. I talk a lot. I read a lot. I think a lot. And I weigh a lot. That last one is in two ways: physical pounds and time spent pondering. And the more I ponder, the more I pack on pounds. Perhaps it’s time to ponder with a start date rather than a start “idea.” So I wanted to eat more plants and eat less meat.

But I think I’m going to go a bit further than that.

I’m fairly certain, barring any unforeseen issues that arise, I’m going to go vegetarian during Lent for theological, ethical, and health reasons, in that order.

A few things have happened as a result:

I’m not as afraid as I thought I’d be.

Rather than a pit in my stomach signaling impending doom or cringing at whether this is brilliance or disaster looming, I’m excited. Sure, I’m, nervous and a little overwhelmed but I know it’s going to be okay. I’m going to learn so much. What I learn is going to come from succeeding and failing. And I can handle that because…

I’m reaching out to people more than I thought I would.

Some people say keep a New Year’s Resolution to yourself. I’ve heard it said that, scientifically, when one tells others about their NYR they don’t actually follow through because validation from the persons they talk to about it is satisfying to our brain enough. Yikes! That may be true but well, I know me. I keep many ideas to myself because I’m afraid of social shame if I fail. So I’ve decided to turn this fear on its head. First, I told my wife. She’s so happy! Next, I reached out on Facebook. People are so kind! And now, I’m reaching out here. Because…

It’s time to try living as a Christian in public.

This bears a need for extrapolation as I prepare for Lent and I’ll write about it here in the near-future. What I mean, though, is my evolving theology has come to new places in the last few months and is playing a direct role in my interest in trying something like this. And one of the most evangelical things I can do (yeah, I’m a liberal Christ Follower who used the “E” word – we’re takin’ it back!) is write and talk and share about my journey and in turn listen to yours, too.

It’s likely The Life Mosaic will see some chronicles of this adventure alongside other posts about other passions. As I said, I’ll probably write a little about these theological, ethical, and health-related reasons I’m weighing and I can see myself offering some “How I feel” and “What I’m eating” and “HELP ME!” posts along the way, too, as well as processing posts after Lent. In the meantime, your kind tips and friendly advice is welcome.

Anybody want to head over to Matt’s Bar for a Jucy Lucy before February 13, please let me know!

-nm

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4 thoughts on “Help: I Think I’m Going Vegetarian for Lent!

  1. Pingback: My Two Nights on a Hermitage Retreat. | The Life Mosaic

  2. Hi Nathan. I hope your vegetarian challenge for Lent is going well.

    I thought I’d pop by & offer a few comments – though as I don’t actually know what type of food you enjoy or how much time or cash you have available for cooking, if I’m way off the mark, do feel free to ask! Also, I’m from the UK, so would normally offer lots of British links & places to eat, eg in London, which clearly won’t help you at all!

    From your blog it looks like you’ve a good attitude towards starting this: practical, driven by compassion, health & seeing it as an adventure. I can see you want it to succeed from the theological side too.

    – Do see it as a fun challenge – you’ll get the chance to try a lot of different foods for these few weeks & will hopefully expand your cooking repertoire
    – Do your research so you know where the ‘hidden’ animal products are in your food (eg gelatine in desserts; meat stock in soups; E-number colourings & food additives etc) & to see how strict you’re going to be on yourself (eg are you avoiding all slaughterhouse by-products; are you going totally vegan; if you drink alcohol (I don’t) are you going to check out animal ingredients in beers & wine etc). There are plenty of veggie organisations on-line who have info available who’ll be pleased to assist (eg http://www.peta.org/; http://www.americanvegan.org/). See if you can find a US ‘animal-free shopper’.
    – Even if you don’t have much time to cook from scratch, you should be able to find plenty of good ingredients / sauces / (hopefully healthy) ready meals in your local supermarket; local market; ethnic shops (for more unusual ingredients, herbs & spices – often far cheaper than elsewhere); health food stores & on-line (eg http://www.veganessentials.com/).
    – Some people like the idea of try ‘fake meats’ (usually from soy or wheat – some very realistic ones are available, covering all meats & fish) & other hate the idea. I don’t know where you are in that arena.
    – Plant-based dairy produce exists & is usually healthier (in that it’s not full of saturated fats & not usually so sugary) – so you can still get your cheeses, creams, chocolate, ice-creams etc made with soy, rice, coconut, oats & other ingredients.
    – It’s also easy to avoid using eggs (eg in baking, half a mashed banana works in most cakes & a dessertspoon or so of oil in pancakes…).
    – If you enjoy cooking, look up some on-line recipe sites – many offer options if you have certain ingredients to hand (http://www.theveggietable.com/blog/; http://www.ivu.org/recipes/ etc).
    – For many meals, you will be able to find an animal-free alternative without too much difficulty:
    – There are lots of different veggie burgers – firms like Amy’s Kitchen (http://www.amys.com/) make both veggie-based products & ‘fake meat’.
    – Pizza can be easy (if going vegan – take plain dough base, put on the tomato sauce & then load up with lots of veg, ‘fake meat’ if you want it &, if you want to try it, vegan (usually soy) cheese).
    – Pasta (avoid egg or black (squid ink) if going vegan) & curries are easy to make veggie, as you really won’t miss the meat.
    – Stir fries (or lightly steaming veg) with a good variety of veg, maybe tofu or seitan if you like those (these can be bought ready marinated to make them more tasty) & your fave herbs & spices work well alone or with rice or noodles.
    – Veggie fajitas are great fun to pile up & many other Mexican dishes can be made veggie (eg chillis, enchiladas, chimichangas, nachos etc).
    – For sandwiches, I pile in houmous & lots of fillings (eg water cress & tomato) in a tasty seedy wholemeal bread; there are loads of nice pates & spreads which mean you can avoid butter or marge; these can be easy to make in a blender if you’ve the time (& bread is lovely to make if you have time or a bread machine – then you can flavour it yourself with olives, sun-dried tomatoes etc). Vegan cheese works well like this – Smoked ‘Scheeze’ is great with other fillings; vegan cream cheese works well in toasted bagels; ‘fake meat’ goes well with different pickles & crusty baguettes
    – You should be able to check out veggie versions of crisps (chips) & other savoury snacks; biscuits; cakes etc – just read the labels carefully ((depending on if you’re trying to lose weight or want to treat yourself)..
    – If you fancy eating out, Happy Cow is a great site with reviews of veggie-friendly eateries (http://www.happycow.net/north_america/usa/minnesota/). We have plenty of eat-as-much-as-you-like vegan buffets over here (eg Thai, Indian etc) which work out cheap & international veggie franchises, like Loving Hut.
    – Should you be happy trying out the cuisine of different faiths, you’ll find that Govinda’s (run by Hare Krishnas) & Seventh Day Adventists (plant-based food – might have eateries or run cooking demos) could be nearby.
    – Look out for veggie festivals & events as they are good places for sampling new products & getting bargain prices on the ones you like. We have a lot of different vegan meet-ups in London, such as potluck eves (ie everyone brings along a dish of home-made food), restaurant visits, book clubs, weekend walks round areas (eg with food markets & other good veg places), drinks etc that are free for folk to attend. Is there a local veggie society who meet up regularly?
    – Have a good look through other blogs – just before Xmas I was pleased to see that there was a vegan challenge month & enjoyed reading through folks’ recipes & lovely photos of the food they’ve made (maybe not so good if you’re hoping to lose some weight!).

    I hope that’s a few ideas to help with. Do ask if there’s anything in particular you’d like to know.

    Best of luck & enjoy the challenge!

    Jeanette

    • Wow, Jeanette! That’s great, but don’t you have any information for me? :)

      There’s so much to look at there, thank you! I really need to make a post or two about my Lenten vegetarian journey. It’s been fascinating.

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