Halfway through my animal-free April and since I haven't posted much as of late (more due to me being crazy-busy this month than anything else) though I could at least muster one mid-month progress report on my temporary stab at vegetarianism. For the most part, so far so good -- asides from the occasional pang for sushi, I haven't really missed meat. Now if I was go all out vegan, that might be another story.
Though, in all honesty, I may have unintentionally fallen off the vegetarian wagon already ~ a japchae I ordered at a Korean restaurant was served with beef stir-fried right in (which I tried to pick out to the best of my ability but in hindsight, I'm sure the noodles and veggies probably soaked up some of the meat juices.) And with cheeses I am not particularly vigilant about whether they are made with animal vs. plant vs. artificially-derived rennet. But anything that's overtly meaty I've been able to avoid without a hitch.
And a few other observations I've had so far in my animal-free stint:
- While I'm appreciative of most restaurants efforts to put in at least a few vegetarian dishes in their menu, sometimes I'm puzzled as to whether the kitchen knows what the word means. Indeed, there's a bit of a slippery slope as to what's acceptable in a vegetarian diet (like my case with cheeses) but a barley soup that's "flavored with pancetta" is definitely not vegetarian by any stretch of the definition.
- On the other end of the stick, I've encountered quite a number of folks professing their vegetarianism only to discover they're OK with eating fish and/or fowl. And these are not folks saying they're mostly/semi-vegetarian or flexitarian/pescatarian either. Maybe that's why some kitchens think it's alright to throw in something meaty into a dish and still claim it's vegetarian.
- This sounds evil, but I like how being vegetarian (even if only temporarily) is a more socially acceptable excuse to decline invites to outings, events and such. At the same time, it also made me realize how meat-centric our dining culture has been and how I've probably been eating WAY beyond than most guideline recommendations.
- Just as I expected, I've taken vegetable & fruit appreciation to a whole new level; and what a great time to enjoy all the spring and early summer produce ~ I may go no to beef, but a definite yes to beets!
- Likewise, I've become more aware of the nuances of my cravings beyond just "I want [bacon/steak/sushi/etc.]" Is it the smoky-charry-umami flavor profile? the chewy texture? or even just the way it's seasoned and cooked? Or the inherent fat & protein-based structure? In all those cases, there's a meatless, and probably healthier, swap. Of course, while nothing ever truly subsitute animal flesh's unique combination of all the above, for occasions when I'm really jones-ing for one or two of its characteristics, I know I can make do and be just as satisfied with a plant-based option.
But in any case, 15 days down, 15 more to go-- though at this leisurely rate, I might not even mind extending my Animal-free April into a Meatless May . . .