Last December I decided to go vegetarian. I made it 9 months before I lapsed back into meat-eating. The last four months have been enlightening when it comes to comparing how I felt on a veggie diet to now. Once my body adjusted to eating a veggie diet, I noticed I was much more regular, I had more energy, I was usually in a better mood, and I felt much better physically and emotionally. I’ve noticed since I started eating meat again, that the aches and pains and weird physical issues have come back, I’m either bound up or on the toilet all day, my mood has been unstable and I feel tired and lethargic much of the time.
I fell off the veggie bandwagon after we made the trip to Iowa. We moved from Madison, WI. I like to call it hippie country. There were plenty of places where I could find lots of veggie based foods to eat and not feel deprived or that my diet was bland and boring. However, the cost of the foods was sometimes a bit expensive and much of the stuff I was eating was still processed. Once we moved down to Iowa, my resources for food were much more limited, and so was my budget. There is no Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, or Willie St. Co-op here. There are no people around here to keep me honest either. (Which is part of why I’m writing this blog, my way of proclaiming to the universe my intention of hopping back on this thing.)
After trying the vegetarian thing out for almost a year, and seeing how much better I felt, I’ve decided I want to, and need to continue with that lifestyle. However it’s going to require new levels of dedication and creativity. It’s not as simple as hoping into the car and running down to Whole Foods anymore. That’s probably better though. It will leave me less room to be lazy when it comes to cooking, I’ll be forced to prepare my own foods and get creative with the meals I make. The plus side of this is my meals will be more wholesome and healthy. Even vegan and vegetarian processed foods can be bad for you.
I’ve decided to do a little research and see what other people in my shoes have done and there are a few guidelines I’ve found that seem promising. I decided to share them here in case anyone is in a similar situation to me.
(A quick Google search will give you all this information, but I’ll include a few links below for your convenience)
1) Save time and money with a few handy kitchen appliances. A good crock pot, blender, food dehydrator and pressure cooker (for canning) are good investments that will help much in the long run. (My mom has a food dehydrator, and it’s freaking amazing, I want to get one for myself.)
2) A grain, a green, and a bean. Grains, greens, and beans are good staples you can buy cheaply in bulk. You can cook them up in a crock-pot and season with whatever tickles your fancy.
3)Make your own. Stuff like veggie ground, almond milk, nut butters, and many other things can be made much cheaper and more healthy at home.
4)Grow your own. Save money by growing your own kitchen herbs for cooking, along with planting a garden and growing your own vegetables.
5)Eat in season. Fruits and vegetables that are in season cost less to buy than foods which are imported from far away. As an added bonus, they are fresher better for the environment, because less energy and resources are used to ship them.
6)Substitute things you don’t have, get creative and make your own recipes.
7)Know the dirty dozen. Buying organic can cut into your food budget pretty bad. Some conventionally grown fruits and veggies are more or less hazardous than others. If you know the ones to absolutely stay away from, you can save money on the safer ones.
8)Preserve your own food. Canning, freezing, and drying food is a good option for saving money, and knowing what you’re eating. You can even get creative and prepare and can your own meal items, like pasta sauce, chilli, stews, and so on.