I would first like to put it out there that there is a difference between being pescatarian, vegetarian, and vegan. Just because I say I don’t eat meat (chicken, beef, pork, turkey, so on & so forth) does not mean that I MUST be vegan. While I wish I could have that level of commitment, I am not a vegan (maybe someday.) But for right now I am pescatarian.Santa Elena, Ecuador
The question I get alllllll the time is “what do you even eat?” I remember when I first stopped eating meat, everyone acted like every restaurant was off limits. Just for the record, every restaurant has non-meat options. But, because it’s a question I get all the time I figured I’d give you guys some suggestions based on some things I eat on a day-to- day basis. I stopped eating meat a little over two years ago. Another question I get asked often is “why?” So just to give a brief explanation, my best friend stopped eating meat (along with a bunch of other things) as her New Year’s resolution the year I stopped eating meat and was really sticking to it. She told me how she had felt so much better and that I should try it too. (She was pescatarian then, but is vegetarian now – so safe to say she loved the change) I figured I’d give it a try so the night I spoke to her about it in depth I went and ordered a burger (it was disappointing to say the least) I went home and told my mom I was going to stop eating meat the next day. The next day she cooked the meat we had left in the house and I still didn’t eat it. I figured if I kept putting off what I said I would do, that could end up being how I treat any goal in my life – I could just keep putting it off until I found it convenient to start. I haven’t eaten meat since. Prior to this “lifestyle” change I didn’t really like fish, but I figured if I was going to stretch myself and stop eating meat I might as well try to add fish to my diet. I really only eat shrimp and salmon to be honest, but that’s enough for me.
One of my big concerns when I stopped eating meat was that I was going to lose weight. I had NO plans of getting any skinnier, but inevitably it happened anyways. I worked out prior to not eating meat, but I tried to make it more consistent because I wanted to be a thick mamiiii. (Still not thick, but you get the point) However, I do weigh more now that I don’t eat meat than when I did. So, moral of the story is work out consistently and I guess add as much protein to your diet as you need to.
Going meatless actually made me more aware of the things I was putting in my body and the amount of protein I was taking in. Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist nor is my diet the healthiest, but I started eating a small rotation of things for breakfast. During the weekdays, I pretty much eat the same couple of things and on the weekends I am more lenient on the things I eat. I mostly eat Oatmeal, I prepare it at night with almond milk, brown sugar, cinnamon, blueberries, strawberries and bananas or whichever fruit I decide to put in it that day. I also often buy granola (various brands) and strawberry yogurt and eat that on days that I don’t feel like eating oatmeal. And on the days I don’t feel like eating yogurt and granola or Oatmeal I put cereal in a mason jar or in a coffee cup and take it to work with me. I find myself eating on the go during the weekdays a lot. Eggs, french toast, pancakes, waffles, and hash-browns are always good breakfast go-tos for me when I have more time to prepare breakfast for myself on the weekends (none of which required meat in the first place.)
Once I stopped eating meat I found myself snacking A LOT. I would feel full quickly but shortly after I’d feel hungry (doesn’t happen much anymore, but happened a lot when I first stopped eating meat probably because I was eating the wrong things.) But, that doesn’t mean you have to eat poorly. I found myself eating lots of granola/protein bars and peanuts. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are also good for protein. Protein shakes are always great options for quick snacks or lunch. I love to have shakes when I’m heading to the gym and don’t want to get so full before working out! When I make shakes at home I like to add almond milk and whatever fruits I feel like that day, I don’t always have protein to put in it but I will still drink a shake even if I don’t have any. If I purchase a smoothie or shake I always like to add protein, multivitamins and probiotics.
I’m so BAD with carbs. I looooooooove bread, pasta, and rice (seriously my weakness) but I do try to add a ton of vegetables to my diet. I eat veggie burgers very often. I use Morningstar for non-meat options. I’ve tried regular veggie burgers and black bean burgers but the plain veggie burgers are my favorite. I season it was different seasonings depending on the taste I’m going for that day, heat up the bun and put different toppings and it tastes just as good as a regular burger (to me at least.) I love to season my veggie burgers with jerk seasoning, it adds a little spice and clearly I’m a Caribbean girl because jerk anything is great to me. I also use meatless ground beef for meals such as lasagna and baked ziti and it tastes the EXACT same! Recently I made a whole pack of the veggie ground beef (don’t ask me why because I don’t know) to make empanadas and I ran out of the disks before I ran out of the ground beef so I turned that into a three day meal. I had empanadas the first night, the second night I had it with white rice and vegetables and the third night I had it on a sweet Hawaiian bun with cheese melted on it. ALL WERE DELICIOUS! Seriously, who needs meat when you can use options like these to make so many different meals? My family has enjoyed a few of these meals even though they all eat meat. I’m not someone who’s big on eating mock meats so that’s the extent of my veggie meat but I have heard there’s great meatless sausage and bacon (which I will be trying soon to make a bacon egg and cheese) by Morningstar as well. Another one of my favorite things to eat is eggplant, I love to eat it with rice! I’m not someone who prefers fried food so I don’t like my eggplant fried, but it is one of my favorite substitutes for meat! My grandma always cooks me my own special side of eggplant (Haitians call it Legume but mine just doesn’t have meat in it.)
If you couldn’t tell from my previous posts, I love to eat shrimp! It’s always been one of my favorite foods! My favorite shrimp is curry shrimp with a side of rice and peas, so good. I also love buffalo shrimp! The only way I don’t prefer my shrimp is fried or cocktail shrimp. Speaking of curry, curry potatoes and rice and peas is also a very good meatless meal option. (If you haven’t tried it, you’re welcome for the recommendation because I love it and you will too.) I tried it for the first time at carnival last year and I’ve been obsessed ever since.
During my trips I’m obviously less likely to stick to my daily diet (not really a diet) but I do try to still cook when possible and try not to eat terribly. On a recent trip I tried multiple vegan restaurants where I was able to get vegan chicken wings, which were amazing. I also had vegan chicken and waffles which the “chicken” was just fried cauliflower and I also had some really good vegan raviolis, which I’ll definitely have to figure out my own recipe for – so stay tuned. I will also always try to mention what I’ve eaten on my trips in my posts, so keep an eye out for good recommendations. Restaurant food can almost always be moderated if you’re someone who travels or eats out often.
If you’ve been wanting to try going meatless but don’t know where to start, my advice is just start where you can. I did it abruptly but it might not be that easy for some of you so maybe just cut out certain meats at a time or just try getting more creative with your cooking that way when you do fully switch over you know what you like already! When I first stopped eating meat I was still in school taking classes at multiple campuses and working at multiple locations so I didn’t have much time to invest in cooking and it seemed like EVERYTHING around me was fast food. But, try a meatless chipotle bowl for starters YOU’LL SEE HOW REFRESHING it tastes with no meat in it. You’ll stop eating McDonalds and other burger joints when you realize all you can eat from there is fries.
People always ask me if I feel any different. Honestly, it’s been so long I can’t even remember how I felt when I did eat meat. But, one thing I do remember standing out to me is that when I would eat I would feel less full. Without meat my meals felt so much more refreshing and lighter. I wouldn’t feel gross after eating. When my best friend first told me about becoming a pescatarian she was convinced I’d never go back and my (future) husband and kids probably wouldn’t eat meat either… I was like okay now you’re getting crazy. But, now seriously I don’t think I’ll ever go back to eating meat. And one thing I can say for sure is that through my travels finding food options has never been a problem.New Orleans, Louisiana
If you have any questions, feel free to comment and if you have any food recommendations SEND THEM IN. I’m always looking for new meals to try. Be sure to check out my Instagram for more meatless options as I continue exploring the world, IG @theknowledgeableother