12 Tips to Becoming A Weekday Vegetarian.

Via Sophie Legrand
on Aug 25, 2012
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photo: flickr/Carly & Art

A few months ago, we became weekday vegetarians.

Like many yogis, I had been vegetarian on and off for some time —but I always felt a bit torn when it came to eating versus not eating meat; meatless weekdays brought a perfect resolution to this personal dilemma.

photo: flickr/comprock

I’m not the only one. A lot of people are rethinking the way they eat and what place meat should have in their diet. TreeHugger Founder Graham Hill explains in his TED talk how he decided to be a weekday vegetarian—he argues that because it is structured, it’s simple to remember. Also, it has reduced his footprint, he’s healthier…and he has even lost some weight.

Two kinds of weekday vegetarians are emerging: ‘ex-vegetarians’ who occasionally eat meat and meat-eaters, who want a more plant-based diet.

Meatless weekdays brings peace of mind for those who feel they are failing their vegetarian ambitions and it gives a structure to the carnivores who want to reduce their meat intake.

At home, we have been really relaxed, playful and curious about the whole experiment and probably because of this laid-back attitude, we have adopted this new lifestyle with surprising ease. Here are a few tips that made it easy for us:

1. Pimp up your pantry.

photo: flickr/Maggie Hoffman

Invite new friends onto your shelves!

Pulses are going to dominate your weekdays. Although lentils and chickpeas are wonderfully versatile, there are many more beans and peas you can include to your rolling shopping list: cannellini beans, butter beans, split peas and turtle beans to name a few.

Also, get wild with your carbs—start stacking bags of all sorts: bulgur wheat, quinoa, giant couscous, pearl barley and various kinds of rice: arborio for risottos, brown rice for pilaffs, and wild rice, for special occasions.

2. Dine out in vegetarian restaurants or have your lunch at your local veggie cafe.

Not only it will get you into the habit of eating out vegetarian—but it will give you some great ideas to do at home. You need a bit of imagination to cook veggies five days a week, so get the inspiration wherever you can!

3. Get the right cooking gear.

There is a lot of chopping involved in vegetarian cooking, so you need reliable knives and ideally, a food processor.

The other great companion to veggie cuisine is the pressure cooker.

I’ve become very boring to my friends on this subject but they will have to be patient: I’m on a mission and I’m convinced that if each household had a pressure cooker, the world would be a better place. Pressure cookers are wonderful to cook pulse stews and in many cases, you can skip the soaking phase—most of the time, your dish will be cooked in 15-30 minutes, instead of one hour or more.

4. Become a food geek.

Keep your Pinterest food boards exciting and start hoarding recipes you find online.

Invest in nice recipe books; cookery books can be pricey, so they are a great gift idea to put on your wish-list for birthdays, Christmas and anniversaries.

A good cookbook becomes a companion for a lifetime. My two personal bibles are a French classic by Ginette Mattiot and the other one is the Rodale Whole Foods Cookbook.

5. Less chicken, more eggs.

If you don’t have any cholesterol or weight concerns, eggs are the superfood (and I’m quoting my doctor here). They are a very affordable source of protein; it’s time to explore those quiche, frittata and Spanish tortilla recipes!

photo: flickr/bgottsab

6. Wise up about nutrition.

A shift in diet is a good opportunity to educate yourself about nutrition.

Peel off those tired-looking magnets from your fridge door and use them to post shiny print-outs of nutrition charts about pulses, vegetables, fruits, carbs, nuts and seeds.

7. Veggie junk food night.

These are great to keep it fun and cheerful! At home, it’s usually Friday night and it can consist of pizza—or some kind of homemade, tex-mex delight.

8. Get the creative juices flowing.

Once you’ve found your feet with your veggie cooking, you can improvise! Be daring and inventive!

Try to cook something new, once a week, so your culinary culture broadens. This goes for all things: the more knowledgeable, the more confident, the more efficient, the more creative.

9. Two is better than one.

Cook at least two meals at once—that’s where once again, the pressure cooker is handy (just saying).

Then, you can either freeze or take your veggie leftover in your lunchbox. The beauty of cooking in advance is that stews and tomato sauces taste better the following day.

10. Choose the right meat.

Now that your budget is shrinking because you spend no money on meat during the week, you can indulge in quality, organic meat, when Saturday comes.

If you are worried that you are not finding enough iron during the week, offal might be the food for you; ask your organic butcher for some fresh chicken liver and make a nice salad for your Sunday lunch.

11. One fishy day.

Now it’s a bit controversial but we do sneak in a fish meal during the week; it serves as reminder to eat fish!

Otherwise, we are quite partial to smoked salmon and egg benedict for weekend brunches.

12. It’s okay to stray.

photo: flickr/pointnshoot

Rules are, after all, meant to be broken. Dedication is a laudable quality but it doesn’t have to come with rigidity.

Once in a while, on a Friday evening, our chilli will be with carne and our burger will be beef, instead of beans.

Special occasions also call for more permissiveness, when travelling abroad or staying with friends of family, it’s sometimes easier to just take a short break from veggie weekdays. When we come back home, however, we do crave our good old veggie dishes.

In the process of the last few months, they have become the taste of home food.

More tips about vegetarian cooking.



Editor: Bryonie Wise

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About Sophie Legrand

Sophie is the littlest French hobo. After studying American Literature in Paris, she left France in 1998 to first live in Santa Barbara, California, for a year. She then went to Madrid where she started working in publishing, as a literary agent. After 5 years of movida in Spain, she moved to London. There, she was introduced to yoga by two fantastic teachers, who gave her some very good foundations, a sense of precision and a taste for Asian philosophy. She completed her Yoga Teacher Training in Vancouver in 2011 and is now back to England where she is a proud stay-at-home mom and a yoga teacher. She is also a passionate home-cook with a focus on multicultural, tasty and healthy dishes. Her culinary explorations are on L'Artichaut.


18 Responses to “12 Tips to Becoming A Weekday Vegetarian.”

  1. Edward Staskus says:

    I think your approach is both practical and merciful. I know I didn't stop eating animals all of a sudden. It was a more gradual process. One day I realized I had not eaten any for several weeks, so from then on I thought of myself as a vegetarian. Most people have eaten animals all their lives and are not going to change overnight, and they certainly do not want to be preached to about factory farming and all that. I think your suggestion takes the human condition into account.

  2. sophie says:

    Thanks for reply Edward. It is indeed practical. I see what about stopping gradually. Here we have developped a real taste for veggie food. Often when the weekend comes we don’t fancy meat.
    I can’t be a strict vegetarian, but I can do my best to eat as little meat as I can. Which is good enough for me.

  3. Excellent article, Sophie. Thank you.


  4. edieyoga says:

    Nicely done…from a newly born vegan-ish eater…Is very encouraging…post to main page.

  5. Dina L says:

    Yea but… why including fish in the vegetarian day??? or eggs? makes no sense

  6. @Joanespring says:

    If you love animals, eating them only on weekends will not bring you "peace of mind" – that's like saying you love children so you only beat them Sat and Sun. – And I will not quit "preaching" about the horrors of factory farming any more than I will stop talking about any other barbaric human behavior. I'm O.K. with making people uncomfortable by bringing up the realities of their food choices, just as I'm O.K. with pointing out companies that employ slave labor. Closing your eyes and ears to something doesn't make it's victims suffer less.

  7. Layne says:

    I like the idea of being a % vegetarian (like I'm 75% vegan – meaning I buy vegan but if there's only a nonvegan option out, I will be okay). Every bit counts! I love everyone who really enjoys meat but is doing their best to be humane and ecological!

  8. sophie says:

    I find comparing eating meat and beating children rather extreme. All doesn’t have to be black and white. Different people different ideas, different struggles, different lifestyles, so let’s not judge and get carried away with the analogies.

  9. sophie says:

    Thanks Layne. This is the idea. I was a vegetarian when I met my husband now I eat meat but he eats less meat so our combined footprint is better.
    This is what this is about, doing our best.

  10. sophie says:

    Thanks a lot Edith.
    Nice to find you here!

  11. sophie says:

    Thanks so much Bob

  12. Vince says:

    I don't think the comparison is so extreme, you kill something that was alive so you can eat it or you beat something that is alive so it conforms to your satisfaction. These actions seem more similar than different they just vary in degree.

  13. Xerxes says:

    Sophie, I really appreciate what you are saying. Some vegeterians/vegans sabotage their efforts by coming across as copying the Tea Party strategy of "no compromise", everything is black and white thinking. You don't win hearts and minds by demeaning people for the way they were brought up or taught to think. I was a vegetarian for many years, but it just didn't work out. I realize that I come very close to practicing this weekday thing. Thanks.

  14. sophie says:

    Thanks xerxes! I think it’s unnecessary to put pressure on ourselves and on others. In my personal experience pressure comes with a whole lot of unhappy feelings such as guilt and resentment.
    I feel some form of exercise of restraint can be beneficial, but there’s no need to torture oneself. One has to be happy with themselves and their choices at the end of the day. At least as happy as one can be.
    I find it easier to not eat meat if I know I’m allowed to eat meat. At weekends, I actually rarely fancy meat.

  15. I don't think the evaluation is so excessive, you destroy something that was in existence so you can eat it or you defeat something that is in existence so it is in accordance to your fulfillment. These activities seem more identical than different they just differ in level.

  16. pagli says:

    Great article! If anyone is willing to minimize their meat intake to weekends that’s great progress. Addressing some of the negative feedback: If someone wants to be negative and ridicule the effort to reduce meat intake then how is that helpful? If we want people to have an open mind we must also have an open mind. Those poor animals have to rely on people to get that message out and if what they have is a narrow minded brash person to represent them the effort will be ineffective. Guilting and shaming people to change their views does not work. The approach in this article is effective, nonjudgmental, realistic, encouraging and open minded. I like the message from this article. Each person has their own journey in this life.

  17. Tom says:

    I agree. It seems better to moderate rather than completely get rid of something.

  18. Grillman says:

    Thanks for the great tips. We don't need to push ourselves to be vegan right away. This is a good start to eat healthier and put more veggies in our diet. And don't really need to totally eradicate meats in our diet, white meats are fine.