Could I go vegetarian for two weeks?
I’ve never been a big meat eater, which is a near sacrilege in my home state of Texas. It’s right up there with saying that you don’t like football.
When I was planning a recent trip to India (a country known for its vegetarian cuisine), I had the idea to stop eating animals while I was there – for just more than two weeks.
Would I love it? Would I hate it? Would I be hungry all the time? Lose weight? Gain weight?
The night before I left for India-- over a tasty burger dinner --I decided to go vegetarian for two weeks. I said goodbye to meat and hopped on a plane.
Here’s what happened:
- I still got sick.
I came down with “Delhi Belly” about four days into my trip. My main impetus for going vegetarian was to prevent this from happening; on a previous trip to Morocco I noticed that meat eaters were sick a lot more often than the vegetarians were. Alas, sticking to an all-veggie diet did not prevent my gastrointestinal distress.
- It is really, really easy to be a vegetarian in India.
Fragrant eggplant curry. Butter-soaked garlic naan. Paneer tikka. Aloo gobi. Vegetable biryani. Indian cuisine is a vegetarian’s meat-free dream. Most menus offered just as many vegetarian dishes as those with chicken, goat, or lamb. Beef and pork were practically non-existent in this Hindu and Muslim country. It was always easy to find something new and delicious almost everywhere that I ate. Even the cooking class I took in Orchha had a completely vegetarian menu.
- Going vegetarian did not help me to lose any weight.
I was hoping that it would. When I go on a big trip, I usually gain at least five pounds. Probably because I stop doing strength training and cardio three times a week, and because I start eating anything I want instead of watching my diet. The same held true for India.
- I woke up in the middle of the night hungry and ate snacks in bed…
… which is something that never happens at home. But I blame jet lag more than my vegetarian diet, which always seems to throw the timing of my digestive system off as much as my brain.
- I had to be vigilant at buffets.
Groggy after a 10-hour bus ride, I scooped one of the curry dishes onto my plate before realizing it was chicken. Great. But I barely touched any of my food that night; smelling the aromas from the buffet was one of the last thing I did before falling ill for the next 24 hours.
- I developed a new obsession: paneer!
Sure, I’d had paneer before. But this firm, fresh, mild, white cheese became a staple of my vegetarian adventure in India. And I loved every bite of it!
- I ate all my snacks, and then some.
I brought a ton of high-protein snacks from home to supplement my diet: nuts, protein bars, packets of peanut butter, granola, and trail mix. It was all gone in a week. Was I really that hungry, or was it all in my head?
- After two weeks, I was craving red meat… but I was craving fresh fruits and vegetables even more.
During my layover in Dubai I sunk my teeth into a glorious cheeseburger at Shake Shack. But what I enjoyed most was the crisp, fresh lettuce and juicy, fresh tomato. Fresh! I hadn’t eaten any fresh vegetables for over two weeks, and had to hold back the tears, it was so delicious.
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