Friday, December 3, 2010

The Berkey's are Going Vegetarian

Aaron read an article in the October issue of Mens Journal about the advantages of going vegan and it inspired him. Read the excerpt from the article here (featuring Twitter Biz Stone). He suggested that we go vegetarian for a health experiment to see how our bodies react. I was surprised at first because Aaron doesn't like too many vegetables! I told him that if we're going vegetarian, we're going to do it right and eat high quality grains, proteins like tofu, tempeh, and eat frequently to keep our energy stable. He told me that he was willing to try things and experiment. We agreed to do it together, which will be great since we're supporting each other.

We're committing to vegetarianism for a long period (at least 6-months) to see the effects on our bodies. Our plan is to eliminate meat (beef, pork, poultry), but still eat dairy to help with protein and possibly fish on occasion. I can't imagine giving up cheese, milk, or eggs so I was onboard with that. I suspect that in the end after our experiment is over, we may balance out to add meat back in to our diets, but not the focus or even every day.

I'm not going to lie. I'm going to miss bacon and pork because I love the salty, smoky flavor that it adds to a soup, sandwich, or heck, just eating it alone. But I do without. I went without wine for my entire pregnancy so I think I can go without meat for 6-12 months.

We broke the news to Aaron's parents at Thanksgiving. They gave us the "Are you an alien?" look afterwards. We told them our reasons and they told us not to worry because there's always peanut butter in the pantry! Almost every meal features some form of beef or pork so it's going to be tough. I think we'll stock some veggie burgers at their house and plan to cook alternatives for us to eat.

As we're planning to go vegetarian, we're doing two things.
  • Experimenting/Researching: I really like vegetarian meals and have recipes already in mind. I've been eyeing the bulk bins at Whole Foods for the dried beans, quinoa, barley, and oat groats. We get a produce box of seasonal, organic produce already so we'll experiment and find our favorite vegetarian meals. We already have several that we love: Chipotle Macaroni and Cheese and Veggie Pasta Ragu (made with veggie burger in the sauce). I liked a coconut peanut curry with tofu, cabbage, green beans and rice noodles meal that I made recently. At restaurants, we're ordering vegetarian options. For the past month, we've been eating less meat overall to make the transition smoothly.
  • Eating our meat from the freezer: We had a drawer in our freezer filled with varieties of hormone-free meats and grass-fed beef. We cooked ground elk for chili and made beef hamburgers in November, even though we'd prefer to eat burgers in the summer! We cooked a pork tenderloin this week and we ate it in smaller servings to ease back our meat intake.
Our official start will be Jan 1. Practically speaking, it's best to wait until after the Christmas holiday. Aaron's mom would have been slightly heart broken if we skipped her ground beef lasagna and the traditional egg, sausage and cheese casserole for Christmas morning. But for the upcoming year, when we visit, I'll make food for us.

Just in the last couple weeks, I've lost 3 lbs! I'm wondering if it has to do with the vegetarian tendencies we're having in the last month. To be fair, I'm breastfeeding, which uses tons of calories and my weight loss has been slow and steady. One ounce of breastmilk is about 20 calories, which is taken from my body to produce. I pump about 28-30oz when I go to the office all day and feed Ava before work, in the evening, and overnight. No wondering I'm always hungry! It seems my weight is dropping off all the sudden. This week, I reached my pre-pregnancy weight and fit really easily in my old jeans that I hadn't worn comfortably since I was 12-weeks pregnant. My goal is to keep trimming down while my metabolism has the added boost from breastfeeding.

I'm having fun pulling out my cookbooks like Nourishing Traditions and Feeding the Whole Family is especially useful with the great alternative, wholesome foods. As I write this post, I'm soaking dried mung beans for a stew tomorrow. I'm chopped butternut squash and it's ready to go for the stew tomorrow.

Follow our experiment on the blog. I'll post our progress and share our recipes. Please share your favorite veggie entrees and dishes, too!


  1. Woot-woot! I was raised vegetarian, started eating meat when I married, and in the past month have gone back to veggie. There are do many great veggie dishes out there! You won't even miss the meat. :)

    From an experienced veg, I would recommend sticking to whole fruits and vegetables, grains, and hormone-free dairy. There are a lot of meat substitutes out there, and they're mostly soy products. All that fake-meat stuff is gross, not that healthy (just lower in fat/calories), and terrible forthe environment (GMO and pesticide-laden). Just my $0.02.

    Has anyone recommended the Moosewood cookbooks to you? By far my favorites. Also, Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything Vegetarian" is an excellent resource. It's my go-to for obscure winter vegetables and basic prep of all types of fruits and veggies. Like, how to peel and eat a pomegranate. (I didn't know how. Lol)

    if you want to borrow any books, please let me know! I'll bring them to our Tuesday night meeting. Good cooking!

  2. Oh, and if you are going to do some vegan dishes, I *love* this blog:

  3. Two biggest challenges for me were family gatherings and restaurant eating. Eventually my family caught on. But eating out is still rough. Adding in chicken or fish gives me options.

  4. LOVE THIS! I'm clicking on the feed button. Glen and I were lactovum vegetarians (dairy and eggs), but we upgraded to pescatarian (dairy, eggs, and fish).

    We have a lot of Greek Yogurt because it contains 2x the amount of protein as normal yogurt. Trader Joe's has a great product (if you have that store in your area). We also use Barilla whole wheat pasta (with protein) on occasion. I can't wait for your recipes, Amanda!!

  5. I am also looking forward to this! You know that I have transitioned (slowly) to a meat-free diet and it has really made me eat more thoughtfully.

    Some meat subs I do like more than others. I eat Quorn brand frequently. Instead of genetically modified soy it is made from veggie protien. It is also yummy and has allowed me to recreate some of my Mom's recipes (chicken pot pie, for instance) and that helps when I feel like I am missing out sans meat.