When I tell people I’m a vegetarian, the most common question they ask is, “What do you eat?” And usually I fumble around and mumble a little because I don’t really pay attention to my dinners anymore and I don’t know what to say. It’s not too big of a deal.
Many who are considering vegetarianism worry that they will not get enough protein on a plant-based diet. And this can be a concern. I have a friend who has been a vegetarian since she was seven because she simply detests the taste of meat. She loads up on carbs and packaged snacks and then wonders why she’s always hungry and why she can’t gain muscle mass. I always tell her that she just needs to eat more protein! A conscious effort is required until eating the right nutrients becomes habit.
This being said, it’s not hard at all to nourish yourself properly on a vegetarian diet, especially if you choose to continue eating dairy, fish, and eggs in limited amounts. Also, you really don’t need a ton of protein, unless you are specifically trying to gain muscle mass or are constantly feeling fatigued.
My average day doesn’t really exist, because my meals revolve around the schedule of the day. For example, during the summer or on the weekends, I might wake up, have a glass of almond milk, run, drink a smoothie, and not eat again until dinner. Other days I have a two or three meals and a snack. When and what I eat usually depends on whether or not I’m hungry and what activities I have to distract myself if I’m not. During the school year, I’ll have oatmeal and tea for breakfast, yogurt and a cereal bar for lunch, an apple after school, dinner, and a glass of almond milk at some point during the day. Each day I try to have a salad, a vegetable, and some form of protein for dinner. A dinner protein could be different types of beans, tofu, fish, pasta, and even eggs! It’s unusal that I eat extra carbs, besides fruit, pasta, or desserts (which I really do have everyday, sorry not sorry).
What should you extract from all this? That vegetarianism is entirely possible and not very hard, as long as a conscious effort is made to eat right.
I’m no chef, but here’s something I whipped up earlier tonight. This veggie burger salad includes leafy greens and other veggies, plus a crumbled black bean burger to provide some protein. I actually haven’t had a veggie burger in a while except at restaurants and I don’t recommend relying on “fake meat” substitutes as a crutch, but I was just feeling it tonight.
Spicy Veggie Burger Salad
- 1 veggie patty (I like Morningstar Farms Chipotle Black Bean or Asian Veggie patties)
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 2-3 cups leafy greens
- 2-3 small bell peppers, chopped
- 2-3 baby carrots, chopped
- 2 tsp pumpkin seeds
- 2 tbs soy sauce
- 2 tsp sesame oil (spicy or regular)
- any other vegetables or nuts you like!
- Set oven to broil. Line a small Corningware dish with foil.
- Place the veggie patty in the dish and sprinkle on the garlic powder. Broil for eight minutes, flipping to the other side after four.
- While the patty is cooking, prepare the rest of the salad. After all the vegetables have been washed and chopped, place them in a medium bowl with the pumpkin seeds.
- Cut or crumble the cooked patty into small bits and toss into the salad with the soy sauce and sesame oil.
- Serve immediately.
I absolutely adore the dressing on this salad. Asian-inspired salads have always been my favorite, but I think the sesame oil and soy sauce combo works with all kinds of vegetables. If you like spicy foods, go for the hot sesame oil, or half hot and half regular. The garlic powder on the veggie burger also adds a great flavor, and sometimes I also throw on a little seasoned salt. The vegetables in the salad really depend on your preference- I usually use all the ones listed and some cucumbers and walnuts, as well. Add in whatever you have on hand or whatever suits you. That’s the beauty of a salad, of course!