I Have Failed as a Vegetarian So You Don't Have To

"Oh, I would totes break vegetarianism for that." -Demery Gijsbers, too often.

It's the 30 day trials that really get ya hooked. Take Spotify Premium for example. A 30 day free trial shows you what life could be like without the same annoying commercials, being able to download your music, and so much more (#NotSponsored). After thirty days of having this huge life advantage over all the commercial-listening peasants, there's no going back. In the same way that joining Spotify Premium was an important and life-altering lifestyle change for me, trying out vegetarianism was just as important (and way easier than paying a whopping $4.99 a month for premium!). I gave it a shot for thirty days. But when you add a few grueling vegetarian documentaries, late night research, and an apartment full of vegetarians, a month long trial run of not eating meat turns into that big lifestyle change. Now I'm one of those annoying hippies that I used to make fun of as I bit into a bacon cheeseburger. The term "monstrous carnivores" will sometimes escape me as a joke, but I have offended some of the people closest to me. Sorry (you wild meat-eating creatures)!!

I'll stay on this pedestal all day and tell you about how bad eating meat can be for the environment (not to mention the animals. It's a pretty bad sitch for them) but if I'm going to stay up here, I will at least blog-admit my failures (aka being honest about how I'm bad at something, but not having to actually tell anyone to their face).

It all started with a salad bar. You can't tell me that at first glance, a bag of pecan pieces and a bag of bacon bits look any different from each other!
Enter: a pile of bacon bits on top of a salad that I had already crafted so masterfully to be a vegetarian salad. I was only 4 days into my trial run at this point, so it was a disappointing end to my longest run as an on-purpose-vegetarian. I laughed it off and told anyone that would listen to me that I KNOW they're bacon bits, IT WAS AN ACCIDENT! HAHA! So nobody could judge me for giving in so quickly without my side of the story. CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?! I THOUGHT THEY WERE PECANS!!! DID YOU HEAR ME? I SAID I TOTALLY DIDN'T KNOW THEY WERE BACON BITS!! HAHAHA. HA.
Tough start.

The next one was NOT my fault, and I hope some of you know my sister Deenagh so you can go right up to her and tell her to her face how wrong this was. My family was at a wedding and there was a late-night hamburger sliders truck to serve all the drunk people food so they don't keep drinking on an empty stomach. A noble cause. Listen, I've trusted Deenagh all my life. She is the oldest and by far the most responsible of any of the Gijsbers girls. She has looked out for us, cared for us, and she claims she even changed my diapers when I was a baby. I believed her...for a while. 
In the year 2018, riddle me this: what kind of hamburger truck does NOT supply veggie burgers? And what kind of sister would say they DID supply them just to play a cruel joke? I bit into the burger, innocent and unknowing, thinking that it was a pretty dang good veggie burger. That thought still haunts me and keeps me up at night. "How does it taste?" Deenagh asked, stifling a snicker. "Pretty dang good," I answered. And I thanked her for getting it for me. Lo and behold, it was not a veggie burger. She broke the news to me and I was angry! Buuuuuut I finished it. And it did taste pretty dang good. "A devastating blow...a worthy opponent."

Speaking of worthy opponents, I was also taken down by some pâté from a cheese platter while getting caught up in some riveting Cheese Platter Small Talk. There was also an unreal shrimp dish at a bougie restaurant in Birmingham that contained none other than some very hidden and very delicious prosciutto. And my latest failure was a deviled egg at a potluck that had bacon mixed into it. Those sneaky guys always get me!

While this is a humbling experience, I'm not here to tell you that being a vegetarian is hard and not worth it. I have loved exploring food options beyond meat and feel better without things like beef and pork in my body. I like knowing that my actions are making a change for the environment, even if it's small. I want to encourage you, whoever you are, to try it out. So this blog post becomes an encouragement with really easy ways to give that 30-day trial a go. I'm no expert and I certainly have my own issues with food, but this is just a simple nudge to say "Hey give it a try. You might screw up, I support it. It's only 30 days of your life. Consider it." In the meantime, here's a starter pack. 

1. Fun and Easy Research - Netflix babaayyy. Easy peasy documentaries that are way more educational (and even enjoyable) to watch than reading this blog post. You'll learn a lot and will even have some argument points, if not annoying Cheese Platter Small Talk conversation starters. The three most popular are "Forks over Knives," "What the Health" and "Cowspiracy." Don't watch them all at once though, because you may never want to eat anything ever again. Do educate yourself though, because otherwise you're just going veg because I told you to and I can't handle that kind of responsibility!!! 
2. Get Creative - Eggs are V versatile. There exist meat alternatives that taste like meat if you like that sort of thing, or alt meats that are entirely new and fun creations that taste nothing like beef!! Start mixing up some veggies and beans to make your own veggie burgers. My latest creation was an unreal mushroom burger and I will recommend it until the day I die. 
3. Cut the Reds - If you can't drop all meat from your diet at once, but you're eating a lot of red meat, start there. Maybe just cut down to turkey and chicken and gradually phase those out over a couple of weeks. I still eat fish, so if you're down for seafood, that's another good option.
4. Rope Your Friends In - Ask someone to try the 30 day trial with you. Or just ask someone to keep you accountable. It'll be way easier (and more fun) to have someone in it with you. If you've got nobody,  I'll totally hold ya accountable!
5. Ask More Questions - Even if it is "Hey, is there bacon in this deviled egg?" it could save you some troubles. But the questions might actually be with your local farmers at the farmers market. Ask them how they raise their animals. Maybe you'll end the 30 day trial wanting to bing meat back into your life, but you want to know more about where that meat is coming from. The farmers love to talk about it, so ask! Do the research that feels necessary to you.

Simple as that pals. It's thirty days of your life. It's no dramatic call to action, or $500 down payment to some wild fad diet. Just miss a burger or two over the next month and see how your body feels, or understand more about why that's super good for the environment that's crumbling around us!
Let me know how it goes for you, if you discover any new fun recipes, or if you've got tips and tricks of your own!

All my love and then some,


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