Being a better vegetarian

As of this week, I have been a vegetarian for 14 years, nearly half my life. I am a lacto-ovo vegetarian, meaning I eat dairy and eggs (in moderation), but no red meat, poultry or seafood.

In that time, scientists and nutritionists have learned a lot regarding health and a plant-based diet. I enjoy taking in the information and keeping up to date on the health issues surrounding a vegetarian diet. It’s very important to me to be informed about what is in the food I am eating. During the past few years, I have made it more a priority to make as much food from scratch as I can. Not everything has to be difficult, but cutting out packaged foods helps me know what I’m eating and keep me from putting unwanted ingredients in my body. It’s a great feeling knowing I’m in control of what I am eating and knowing where it came from.

Two years ago, I set a goal for myself to make at least one new dish a week that year. I was successful and enjoyed it. However, I realized I was making variations of foods and dishes I already enjoy. This year I decided I would incorporate more food into my diet. One thing I have always enjoyed about being a vegetarian is trying foods I may not have or in different ways. Over time, I have become a complacent vegetarian. I know what I liked and can make it a variety of ways, but wasn’t taking advantage of many foods. This year, I decided I would change that.

Sauteing kale and chopping garlic

Foods I’ve never had or have never made are fair game. I am buying produce based on what is fresh and in season and incorporating it into my diet. I will try and make more of the foods I like from scratch. So far, the foods I have tried recently range from OK (beets) to good (turnips) to really good (kale chips). I am eating more root vegetables and a variety of peppers. I have worked on my bread-making skills enough to know what breads I like and enjoy making. I hope to use grains and beans in different ways. By the end of the year, I hope I can make more really good foods and come up with my own recipes. The great thing is, I hope to get some new favorite dishes and foods out of this and hope eating more variety will help me get the nutrients and vitamins I need as a vegetarian.

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