Six days to go, and all is well in our household.
Stephanie, my employee, reports that her vegetarian diet has been pretty easy to assume, although she is worried that her resolve will be challenged when her family goes to the fair this week. The hardest thing about no meat? Changes in her digestive system.
The Tottlebens? We eat out a lot more than I thought, but have been able to accommodate our new diet everywhere we visit. The good news is that we're not eating in the car (as we usually would) but sitting down and having sparkling family conversations at places we can find a salad bar or similar fare. Last weekend marked the one-year anniversary of our adoption and we took a friend out for a family dinner to help celebrate. The entrees at Noodles made it easy to eat vegetarian and my husband actually tried tofu in his, although most of it ended up pushed on the brim of his bowl. But kudos to him for trying!
My husband and daughter had dinner at Taco Bell after shopping for school supplies in town. He was pleasantly surprised at how many vegetarian items were available on the menu. The most impressive part of their dining experience was the employee behind the counter. A vegan, she was incredibly helpful, spurring a great discussion about food and how to make the menu more selective for our diet.
My daughter, who was extremely trepidatious about joining me on this journey, is happy to tell all children that vegetarians still eat candy and ice cream, so she is getting along well. At home we have enjoyed new things like Mexican rice and bean burritos (OK, I won't touch those but my family enjoyed them while I was at work), making alfredo sauce, and sweet potatoes. Not too exciting for most people, but different for us.
The vegetarian challenge is most difficult for me, as I am probably the pickiest eater I have ever met. My mother always joked that I am the greatest connoisseur of hamburgers, which is true. A juicy, totally plain patty has been the staple of my diet for thirty-some odd years. And I haven't missed them. I thought that by now I would be salivating at the thought of a steak or maybe planning next Sunday's dinner menu with incredible detail. But I'm OK. My only issue is that I am consuming way too many carbs and should spend a lot more time in the kitchen, chopping the raw vegetables that I need to fill the void of meat in my diet.
My family is going to slide through this challenge like butter off the griddle. The question we are asking ourselves is whether we will continue past the two weeks, and if we do, it will have to be on different terms. I work a tremendous amount of high-energy hours and come home exhausted, which doesn't encourage me to do a lot of domestic activities. Hence the easy meals of pastas and baked potatoes. But if we go forward we will have to make lifestyle changes where the fastest food in the pot isn't acceptable and carbohydrates are kept to a minimum.
Thanks for the challenge, MNN. Even if we don't remain vegetarians, it has given us an activity as a family that has been really good for us. We have met new people, had conversations about food groups and environmental reasons for the diet, and really enjoyed following the other state bloggers on their own journeys.