When you turn vegetarian
Last week, we had our good friend Sara in the EAF kitchen again as you'd know from the sneak peaks we do through our Instagram stories (please join us next time, we'd love to have you). Sara has been on the EAF site before of course and it's always a pleasure to have her because she loves to cook and has a passion for food herself.
Previously, she has also tried other diets such as the Whole 30 program so when she decided to switch her diet completely to a vegetarian two months ago, I insisted we have her back after she’d been through the first few weeks so we could share her experiences. Oh by the way, I decided to step in for fun but I helped, I promise!
So coming back to Sara’s experience, the first few months were especially challenging. It wasn’t just a mental preparation but it turns out the switch to vegetarianism must be done slowly starting with two or three meals a week and then gradually increasing in long intervals. Your body gets pretty bloated and some people can have mild to severe migraines and even get violently ill.
We decided to make two fruit based smoothies - the first a detox morning smoothie that was almost effervescent. It called for the juice of a lemon, cayenne, fresh ginger, mango and the best part, steeped white tea. We all agreed it made a very tasty detox for a morning drink. I personally expected it to taste boring and definitely not as tasty as it did. To me a detox morning smoothie doesn’t ever taste good, but you tell yourself it’s good for you and carry on with your day. This in comparison was a surprise and a crowd pleaser. I would easily recommend it for a week but maybe go easy on the cayenne as it might give you a bit of heart burn when you drink it first thing in the morning.
Eating outside was a challenge she didn’t think she’d face especially in a multicultural food haven like Toronto but even several popular restaurants on King West were not creative with their vegetarian options, often doing very basic salads or even sloppy sides. We laughed at this remark but then realized it was a familiar comparison to the experience Mandy often faces when she eats outside and has to communicate her top allergens.
The second recipe was incredibly delicious and so easy that it took us about 4 minutes to finish since we had already cut most of the fruits while making the first. It consisted of avocado, kiwi, mango and the best part - watermelon juice! The rest of the fruits you see were used to top up the smoothie bowl and make it look as delicious as possible (something we learned from our friends over at Bowlbar). The bowl was so delicious that we all had second helpings instantly.
Both recipes don’t take a lot of time and with the brilliant produce we get in Ontario during the summer, they are an absolute no-brainer on a hot summer day. In general however, the switch to vegetarianism can be especially challenging for women because it can be hard to replenish your body’s iron and even harder to maintain your regular protein intake. Sara relies on lentils and other earthy legumes that Amanda absolutely cannot eat.
This had me thinking about how concerned I’d be if Amanda decided to go vegetarian too. I would be calling her every two hours to make sure she ate a couple of eggs and probably 5 bananas a day. Luckily for Sara, there are a few Middle Eastern dishes she has always loved and have become regular staples for her weeknight meals to help her with this change. Having some familiarity with what your meals will be makes the transition easier. Falafel sandwiches for instance are incredibly popular and insatiable but again not a meal Mandy could turn to easily.
I commend Sara on this journey and plenty of other friends who have switched their diets in the past year for ethical or health reasons. It is a challenge but if you are willing to take the steps to do it too, make sure you do some research going in and take it easy. Perhaps make the switch over a few months instead of a few weeks. I would love to try it out for a few weeks myself but if Amanda tried, I'd get her a huge subscription service to a Banana importer or Egg Farm right away.