That “vegetarian thing” I was trying out isn’t going too well. All that week I was feeling irritable and hungry. I already eat a lot of fruits and veggies, but it’s an empty kind of full in my tummy. My protein typically comes from chicken, eggs, and the occasional bit of beef. During the experiment, chickpeas were not cutting it — and they were pretty bland.

      Not even 12 hours after I wrote my Forks Not Knives recipe post, I dejectedly sat next to Walt and told him how hungry I was. My cashew-cheese pizza was a bust, and even after adjusting the recipe so that it was on a tortilla instead of soggy polenta, another night of it seemed inedible.

      I like to think of myself as a middle-of-the-road kind of person. I don’t live to eat, I eat to live. I have my moments of craving things and succumbing to those cravings, be it chocolate-chip cookies or Thai noodles, but for the most part I eat sensibly even if it’s boring or repetitive. I’ve been eating the same lunch for the past three years with slight variations because it works for me. But when it comes to a failed recipe experiment and a taste that just doesn’t jibe with my palate, I get sad. I don’t want to eat it. And so I said to Walt, “This vegetarian thing is terrible! I am so hungry and the food I made doesn’t fill me up and I miss my chicken soup!”

      To which he said, “You’re trying a vegetarian thing?”

      “Don’t you read my blog?!”

      Pause. “Elissa. I shouldn’t have to read your blog. I’m your husband!

      Oh. Right.

      Husband took me to Magnolia Cafe where I had a lean grass-fed bison burger with no onions and extra pickles. The next day, we bought chicken again and I made chicken soup with tons of veggies and extra red pepper, just the way we like it.

      Since then, I’ve shot two weddings (one as an assistant) where the meal is either BBQ or something with cheese on it. If it comes between meat or cheese, I’m always going to choose meat. Meat I can eat, even if I am trying not to. My body physically rejects cheese.

      I like my FOK recipe book, though. I made a vegan pudding out of cocoa and tofu and it’s actually pretty tasty. However, I’ve tried vegetarianism several times in my life and each time I revert back to eating animal protein because it satiates my hunger. I can eat a ton of chickpeas and feel hungry again twenty minutes later.

      Do any vegetarians have tips on how to feel full? I always feel so bad about giving up.

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      Hi, I just stumbled across this post.

      The standard advice that I give to people interested in vegetarianism is *not* to try to switch all at once. You have plenty of food that you enjoy and that you know how to make now. When you switch suddenly, you’re making a major change about a fundamental part of your life (what you eat), and at the same time, you’re trying to figure out new recipes. It’s no wonder that so many people “fail.” Think of it more like a journey. You’re heading toward vegetarianism. Expect some detours and roadblocks, but don’t worry. You don’t have to get there at any particular. Enjoy the journey, and make sure that you eat well along the way!

      Instead of switching all at once, try to start with just one vegetarian meal each week. That way, if it goes badly, you can scrap it and just eat whatever is in the refrigerator. Generally, after a few months, you’ll find that you’re building up a list of meals that you enjoy. Then you can try moving to something like being a vegetarian for the entire weekend. (Or, if your weekends are busy with weddings, choose another couple of days when you’ll have more time to experiment in the kitchen.) You can still try a new recipe every week, but you also have a bunch of recipes that you know you like. That makes it much easier since you’ll have some “known good” veggie meals each week while you continue to experiment.

      After a year or so, you should find that you can make it through a couple of weeks with just these vegetarian recipes that you enjoy and already know how to make. That way, if you ever do switch to a full-time vegetarian, the selecting recipes and cooking part of it will be mostly auto-pilot.

      When I first went vegetarian, I got a subscription to the Vegetarian Times. (VRG’s magazine is another good option.) Each month, pick a few recipes to try. If you like them, add them to your own cookbook. Once I had a better idea of the type of recipes that I liked, I could buy vegetarian cookbooks whose authors seemed to have similar tastes to mine.

      It will also help if you talk to your spouse to explain that this experiment is important to you, and you’d like his support and help. Even if he has no interest in being a vegetarian himself, it will help if you have him on board at least to support your “vegetarian thing.”

      As for “feeling full,” it really depends on what you like to eat. Generally, I feel full if the recipe includes some sort of carbs, like rice, bread, pasta, etc. YMMV. Perhaps your portion size is just wrong. If you used to have veggies, pasta, and chicken, and you just remove the chicken from the recipe, you’ll need to add something else, or you’ll need to eat more of the pasta. If legumes generally don’t agree with you, you still might want to try lentils, which are pretty mild. You could try recipes with seitan, tempeh, or tofu to see whether those agree with you. Instead of plain chickpeas, try something like chana masala. Or just have falafel.

      You should also try the several different vegetarian-friendly restaurants around Austin. Try different things in the Whole Foods deli. See http://www.happycow.net/north_america/usa/texas/austin/. That may give you some inspiration and help you figure out what vegetarian food you like.

      Wow, this is incredibly helpful! Thanks so much for the long and well-thought-out comment. I’ll try your suggestions :)

      Hmm. I had written out a long comment with my Facebook login, but it seemed to have disappeared. Anyway, the gist of it was that I’ve been pescatarian (veg who sometimes eats fish) for 3 years now, and I’ve had my ups and downs.

      I had to get over the hump of the first 6 months without meat, but after that it was really easy to not eat it and not miss it. What sucks the most is that you’re forced to change the way you dine out and have to start cooking. A great book for veg recipes is Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. Nuts, whole grain breads, legumes, peas, chick peas, and protein-packed yogurts can fill you up (I eat Siggi’s Skyrr, which is an Icelandic yogurt that has a very low amount of sweetener in it and lots of protein). I also drink vegan shakes and take dietary supplements to get my iron. Occasionally, I’ll go for a carb-filled meal or sugary snack to make up for not eating meat, but I still feel healthier than before.

      I’m still on the fence about vegetarianism and my return to eating meat one day, but I feel like when I do I’ll consume much less meat than I did before and only have it as a treat.

      Ultimately the decision is yours, but if you eat meat, getting local, organic-fed, free-range meat is most likely the best option. The farmer’s markets in Austin have great local options like whole chickens, bison, duck, lamb, etc.

      HAHA! I love that you said, “Don’t you read my blog?!” to Walt! :) I totally used to do that to James to, but have learned to stop myself. haha He used to say to people, “Yes, I find out about what is going on in my wife’s life by reading her blog. She comes home from work, goes to the computer, types a blog, and the next day when it posts I find out how her day was.” haha

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