I’ve had a few questions this week asking whether I’m a vegetarian. I’ve mentioned meat in a few posts, but I haven’t really posted any recipes involving meat so this seems like a good question. The answer is “no.” I’m not a vegetarian. However, my meat eating habits have certainly changed a lot over the past few years.
I used to think that I had to have meat at every meal, with the exception of breakfast. I could have a breakfast sans sausage or bacon, but I expected some sort of meat at lunch and dinner. When I started changing the way that I eat, I moved my focus more to fruits, veggies and whole grains and gradually lessened the amount of meat that I eat. I didn’t really do it on purpose, things just sort of evolved that way. Rather than focusing on meat as the star of the meal, my plate is now filled mostly with veggies. This was my dinner this evening:
Given the amount of strength training and working out that I do, getting enough protein is a concern, and that is something I’m trying to focus on lately. I do eat a lot of dairy, nuts, eggs, whole grains, beans, soy and other protein sources, but I might only sit down to a meal involving meat once a day. Somedays, like today, I don’t have any meat at all.
I think part of the explanation for my meat eating evolution lies in the certainty of points calculations. Some meats are easier to count than others. Chicken breast, pork tenderloin, filet mignon, nicely labeled ground meats, chicken sausages and processed meats with nutrition info on the package are easier to figure out with some certainty. I find myself returning to those choices again and again. I think fish and seafood are pretty easy to figure out as well, and I eat those fairly often too. I think another factor is my love of cheese. I’d pick a cheese plate over a big steak almost any day.
Since I like easy protein sources that are simple to count, I’ve come to love many soy products. I pulled a few out of my freezer and had them pose for the photo at the top of the post. I like them because they have a fair amount of protein, are single serving portions, have the nutrition information on the box, are convenient to take for lunch, and… they taste good! There are a few vegetarians in our office, and I’m always happy when Boca burgers show up at the annual picnic. Unlike random “who knows what percentage of fat” ground beef burgers, I can have a bit more certainty about the number of points I’m eating. If I want a “real” burger, by the way, I get some 96/4 ground beef and make one at home.
If you haven’t tried soy products in a while, I’d encourage you to give them another shot. I think they’ve improved in the short time that I’ve been eating them. The variety of available products has certainly grown. Sometimes I’ll take a Boca burger or a veggie corndog with my “weekly big batch food” for an easy and filling lunch. Morningstar Farms has a breaded “Chik’n” patty that I love with a little light mayo and dill pickle on a toasted English muffin. Another of my favorite things is the Gardenburger riblet. If you were ever a fan of the McRib (I am in this category), the Gardenburger riblet might be a good choice for you. It even has a fake rib shape that I find rather humorous– and yummy. I like to have one with a baked potato and some corn on the cob in the summer or, like tonight, with leftover roasted veggies. Most of the soy products I’ve tried, by the way, range between 1 and 3 points per serving. That’s not bad in my book.
So, that’s really all I have to say this evening. In summary: I am not a vegetarian… yet. I like to fill my plate mostly with vegetables. I do like meat, but I like soy products and other protein sources as well. I LOVE cheese. I love foods that are easy to count and, finally, if you haven’t tried soy products in awhile, you should consider giving them a chance. I’m eating proof that they aren’t just for vegetarians any more.