Easing back toward the veg life

As I mentioned the other day, I’m hoping to make the transition from a meat-heavy diet to a more plant-based diet this year.

My primary reason is athletic: Done right, a vegetarian diet is a near-perfect way to fuel a marathon training program. (When I say “done right,” I mean heavy on whole grains, legumes and minimally processed vegetables, not the classic “Beer and potato chips are vegan, right?” diet of my misspent youth.)

The contents of my freezer are sort of forcing me to ease into this slowly: I’ve got about five pounds of frozen chicken down there, a metric crap-ton of cheese tortellini, God alone knows how many pepperoni pizza rolls, and a pantry full of canned tuna. But Ron likes the pizza rolls better than I do, so I’m leaving those for him to make whenever the day’s menu involves something he doesn’t like, and I’m starting the transition by simply eliminating red meat from my own diet.

We made our quarterly trip up to Costco in St. Louis today in hopes of finding vegetarian convenience foods I could keep in the freezer for quick meals. They didn’t have the veggie burgers and fake corn dogs I wanted, so I wound up with a big bag of quinoa and kale divvied up into microwave-friendly steamer bags, a bag of edamame, and an eight-pack of canned organic black beans — not as much fun as corn dogs, but probably better choices for boosting endurance.

My menu for this week is split pretty neatly among vegan, lacto-ovo-vegetarian, and pesco-pollo-vegetarian meals, which is the easiest way to make the shift. If you’re interested in attempting a similar diet, here’s what I’ve got planned:

Sweet potato tacos

Chicken tikka masala (chicken breasts simmered in prefabbed tikka masala sauce, served over whole-wheat couscous)

Burritos (refried pinto beans, shredded cheddar, salsa in a big flour tortilla)

Lunch: Breakfast burritos (diced potatoes, scrambled eggs, green chile, shredded cheddar, salsa in a big flour tortilla)

Lemon-tahini pasta (this is a recipe I’m making up as I go, but it’s basically capellini tossed with tahini, lemon juice and garlic)

Beans and green chile cornbread

Vegetarian lasagna

To use up the tuna in the pantry, I’ll be making a lot of tuna salad — my version is a can of tuna mixed with 2 tbsp. each of mayo and dill relish and a couple of finely chopped celery stalks. I scored 5 lbs. of Clementines for $5.99 at Costco today, so I’ll be eating a lot of those as recovery snacks after runs. (Oranges are really high in potassium, so an orange sprinkled with chile-lime salt is a great way to replace electrolytes after a run.) I’m also a fan of nooch nachos, and the freezer is still well-stocked with ingredients for smoothies, so I see a lot of that in my future, too.


5 thoughts on “Easing back toward the veg life”

  1. Hi! Good luck and want to wish you more than welcome checking some of my best veggie recipes 🙂 I have been a vegetarian for over 18 years now and love to eat healthy but also love to eat good yummy food that makes me happy! 🙂 So usually you can find recipes that are not too “skinny”. Except that this year I am doing my healthy year (healthiest year :D) and my recipes will be a bit more healthier than usually, however all the previous recipes can be found in “Vegetarian & Vegan Recipes”. 🙂

    1. Thanks! I’ll check it out — and return the favor by directing you to my “Vegan Friday” and later “Vegetarian Friday” feature. My New Year’s resolution in 2014 was to try one vegan recipe a week and blog the good ones. I expanded it to include lacto-ovo-vegetarian recipes in 2015 before I got swamped with other projects and started neglecting my blog for weeks on end. I’m trying to get back on track this year, with both my diet and my blogging habits. 🙂

      1. Thank you I’ll check them out soon!:) And good luck with blogging! 🙂 I sometimes also have a habit to neglect my blog for few weeks..

  2. So how’s the vegetarian diet going? I was a “pesco” for more than 20 years before going vegan two years ago. I am not a perfect vegan by any means, but I stay as close as possible. And if you still haven’t used up all those cans of tuna, may I suggest donation to your local food pantry? Some family in your area will be eternally grateful.

    1. I’ve stayed on track with my plan thus far. I’m eating the lean protein sources because they’re good fuel, especially in the early stages of rebuilding a training base. I’m on track to shift to lacto-ovo in the second quarter of the year. The real test will be when I get into the higher-mileage stage of training, which poses two distinct challenges: time management and keeping blood-sugar levels stable. I’m a bit prone to hypoglycemia, so the fuel issue becomes significant after about 15 miles, and meal planning gets a little tricksy when the training starts taking up 10 or 12 hours a week instead four or five.

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