This post is a long time coming but--guess what? We're not vegetarian anymore. I told you it was just a short-time thing, right? So when that arbitrary agreed-upon day arrived, my husband and I reconvened to decide what the new plan of action was. We've loosened up on the rules a bit so that now weekends, restaurants, and social situations are meat optional. I still don't cook meat at home unless a special weekend meal requires it. Basically, we're lazy vegetarians. And, as it turns out, there's a name for that: flexitarian. I'm kind of liking the sound of that.
During these last few months I've had a few people ask about my experience being vegetarian, so I thought I would talk a little bit about it. And please let me know if you have questions that I don't answer.
What did we eat? Basically the same kind of meals that we always did, just not the ones that are meat-centered. Soups, curries, and pastas are really easy to make meatless.
Did I ever get sick of eating the same thing all the time? Well, I tend to get into food ruts whether we're eating meat or not. As in, I start making a lot of curries, and then a lot of soups, etc. So when I would find a new vegetarian dish that I really enjoyed, I found myself making it a little too often. That said, vegetarian options at your typical dining establishments are pretty limited and, since we love eating out, that put a damper on things. I did get sick of being forced to order salads. I also got sick of the raised eye brows from the restaurant servers when we ordered the veggie burger or the salad without chicken.
How did you like being a vegetarian? Honestly, it was pretty good. I don't feel like we were eating that much meat before, so it wasn't that big of an adjustment for me. But it did make me more aware of what we were eating in general, and it also made me stretch my cooking skills a bit and try new ingredients. And, as a bonus, I think my husband and I both lost a few pounds (although, even though we're only eating meat occasionally, it was quick to come back). I will say, as well, I was incredibly impressed by my husband's expanded palate during this time. Because of his job, he eats out a lot more than I do and he really developed a love for tofu that I appreciate, although I do not share. Props to you, honey!
Did you use Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP)? How was it? Ugh. We did buy a few TVP products. We tried some TVP "chicken" nuggets that I thought were disgusting; they tasted sort of like fish sticks. We also bought some "ground beef" TVP (there's still some in the freezer if anyone wants it!) and tried using it for tacos. Not that good. It was just a little bit off in a way that I couldn't identify and didn't like.
But my husband loves tacos, so we had to find a good substitute for meat. Solution? Black Bean Tacos. In fact, Black Bean Tacos were on the regular rotation while we were vegetarian and even now that we're flexitarian. These come together so quickly and are so delicious that I have no qualms with making them on a regular basis.
Easy Black Bean Tacos
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons taco seasoning
1/4 cup water
1) Using a large pan, saute the onion, garlic and bell pepper in the vegetable oil until onion is translucent.
2) Add black beans, taco seasoning and water and bring to a simmer. Cook 15 minutes or until mixture has thickened. Additionally, you may smash some of the beans with the back side of your serving spoon to make a thicker consistency. Serve as filling for tacos and garnish with your favorite taco fixings. Enjoy!