When Everyday is Meatless Monday


One of my meatless dishes that will have to be modified without cheese


Have you ever watched a documentary that changed the way you looked at things?

Last week, we watched the movie, “Forks Over Knives,” which advocates a “plant based, whole foods” diet, which is evidently the new way to say “vegan.”

I’ve written before about going vegetarian for 9 months, and then a deep fried pork tenderloin called my name and I fell off the wagon.

It was difficult because my husband and mother, who I also cooked for at that time, were not vegetarians. My mom didn’t eat a lot of meat, but Dale has always been a meat and potatoes guy, so most days I found myself cooking two meals.

Even working from home, that was a real pain.

I’ve been seeing a doctor trained in traditional Chinese medicine and he believes that we can heal most things by altering our diets. He believes a little meat in the diet is ok, but dairy is a big no-no and told me to effectively treat my exhaustion, obesity (yes, I’m technically obese) and severe peri-menopause, I am going to have to especially cut out dairy.

He recommended I sit down with my husband and we watch it together, which isn’t a problem since we have only one television. However, I never expected for Dale to take it seriously. He watched the movie “Food Inc.” and it basically had no effect.

However, FOK (Forks over Knives) is more about our health and how a plant based, whole foods diet can help us and less about the environmental and cruel effects of factory farming.

At the end of FOK, Dale said, “I think we need to give this a try,” and I about fell off the couch.

So, I did a lot of internet research. I made a comprehensive grocery list. I found recipes I thought would keep him going and I shopped at the local health food store, buying organic, non-GMO when available.

We began our new eating habits—and I am calling it an eating habit, rather than a diet, because diets always fail—on Sunday.

Dale complained he was hungry the whole day. He crinkled his nose up at the hummus I served as a snack with chips and only ate half of the little snack bag of dried edamame snacks.

He did dive into the enchiladas I prepared for dinner though and actually said they had a good flavor.

Here’s my take from Day 1 & 2 of eating a plant based, whole food diet: The food was good, but since I prepared nearly everything from scratch, it was very labor intensive.

I’m still excited to try new foods. We ate quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) for the first time on Sunday, instead of rice. It was different.

This will be an interesting journey, although friends are already telling me that most people do not even stick to a vegetarian diet, much less a vegan one.

Dale is going to take one day a week to eat whatever he is hungry for. I know from experience if I fall off of the wagon, I won’t get back on. Since I am the main cook in the house, one of us needs to keep us on track, so I’m not planning any “free days.”

But isn’t it always the woman who is really the stronger of the sexes?

Have you ever tried a vegetarian or vegan diet? Share your experiences and why you think it worked, or didn’t, for you.

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44 Responses

  1. Revisiting this, and curious to hear how you’re doing. Are you still sticking with this plan? I did the whole plant-based food plan for a month. Didn’t lose a single pound and was *starving the whole time. Perhaps I should’ve stuck with it longer, but boy. Being hungry is not my favorite thing.

    • Kerri says:

      Thanks for the question, Kris. Yes, we are still sticking with the plan, at about 90%. I will eat a little fish 1 time a week and my husband still has a hamburger every once in awhile with the guys at work. Strange, we don’t feel hungry anymore than we would have on a regular diet. Did you incorporate enough black beans, brown rice and quinoa into your diet?

  2. Jane Boursaw says:

    I’ve been eating less meat and like it. I just don’t seem to crave it as much these days (though do like a nice steak now and then).

  3. Sheryl says:

    I haven’t seen the movie but would like to. I don’t know what’s stopping me! I believe that what you put into your body has a huge influence on how you feel. I stopped eating meat about 30 years ago; I still eat fish and chicken, occasionally, but have absolutely no urge to bring meat back into my diet. I could easily be a vegetarian if the rest of my family was; it would make it so much easier.

    • Kerri says:

      Oh, sit down and watch it with your husband, Sheryl, it’s a very powerful movie. And yes, i think it is easier to have a special diet if your partner is in on it too.

  4. A vegetarian diet is one of the few regimens I’ve never tried. But I really don’t eat much meat — mostly seafood.

    • Kerri says:

      I love seafood, too, Ruth. But a vegetarian diet doesn’t include it either. According to my acupuncturist, seafood is one of the worst things because of all of the mercury and other toxins fish are picking up from our oceans. 🙁

  5. I’m what I call a conditional vegetarian. For me this means that, unless I’m writing a restaurant review, I’m basically vegetarian, though I do eat fish. And, if I have to do a restaurant review, then I would sample a small portion of meat. Since I’m also a nutritionist, I know that populations that are vegetarian tend to have a reduced risk of heart disease and a variety of different cancers.

    • Kerri says:

      You should read the China study that inspired Forks Over Knives, Jeanine. Very interesting the types of cancer associated with different types of meat. I’ve wondered how I’m going to handle doing research on food while I’m doing travel writing. Thanks.

  6. HeatherL says:

    I hope you see a difference in your health. I keep trying to not eat wheat and it creeps back into my diet. It’s even in black licorice, my current addiction. Making a meal plan definitely sounds like the way to go.

  7. We eat a lot less red meat around our house than I did as a kid. But growing up everything was cooked from scratch. I try to cook enough ingredients at one time to last two–or three meals–like Donna. And we are trying to eat more veggies around our house (it’s so much easier now that it’s spring).
    Kudos to you for eating more greens. And you might try quinoa for breakfast. I make a big batch to snack on throughout the week. For breakfast you can mix it with a little brown sugar and coconut milk (as you would oatmeal) and it’s tasty–and filling.

    • Kerri says:

      Thanks for the breakfast tip! I’ve heard that it is good as a cereal. I’ll definitely try that. Yes, it’s much easier to eat healthy when things are in season, than in the winter. I’m trying to make bigger batches and freeze.

  8. Talon says:

    Good luck! I’ve done vegetarian and vegan a few times, but my body just doesn’t do well with it. I have more energy and less joint pain initially, but then I go through massive protein cravings no matter how careful I am. When I do something more like a paleo diet, I absolutely thrive. It’s hard to do when traveling, though.

    Wishing you the best! If your body can do it, it’s such a healthy way of eating.

    • Kerri says:

      Thanks, Talon. I’ve read that the protein cravings will come. I hope it doesn’t derail our plan, though. Thanks for your thoughts and well wishes.

  9. Montana says:

    You should look into the Paleo lifestyle. Try Mark Sisson’s site and cookbooks. I lost 45 lbs in a year while eating food which tasted great. Yes, it is more labor intensive to cook everything from scratch but if you do a big batch of cooking and then freeze smaller portions for simple reheating later, it makes it easier.

    • Kerri says:

      Our friend over at FrugalKiwi.com is doing Paleo and it is working for her. Thanks for the tip. If we can’t do the FOK thing for some reason, I will look into it.

  10. Christine says:

    I haven’t yet seen that documentary, though I want to. My husband and I were just talking tonight about his colleague, who eats an Indian vegetarian diet – lots of dal and rice and vegetables. It sounds so mouthwatering!

  11. Alexandra says:

    Thanks for the recommendation on that film. Had not heard of it. We eat very little meat. I don’t think I could cut out dairy, though. What is the reasoning behind this request, do you know?

    • Kerri says:

      Alexandra, The reason I got out of the film was that dairy is just not good for us for so many reasons. It’s high in fat and increasingly, high in anti-biotics that are fed to the cows (unless you’re buying organic) and many other chemicals. For women’s health, dairy isn’t good, especially for women who are having serious issues during menopause (because of the hormones it contains, against unless you’re purchasing all natural organic), or issues with plantar faciitis. The hormones in meat and dairy, as you know, is also being blamed for young girls developing at a much younger age.

      • Kerri says:

        From the Forks Over Knives site: Dairy products are not healthy, regardless of whether they are organic or conventional. Even organically produced dairy contain naturally occurring steroids and hormones, which can promote cancer growth. Also found in dairy products are toxins including fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, veterinary medicines, antibiotic residues, synthetic preservatives, and additives. The animal protein, fat, and cholesterol (even nonfat/skim milk contains cholesterol) all contribute to heart disease, certain cancers, diabetes, and other major chronic disease. Dairy has been found to be pro-inflammatory and, essentially, is not a healthy choice. Any of the beneficial nutrients found in milk, like calcium, are found in sufficient amounts in a healthful plant-based diet. http://www.forksoverknives.com/nutrition-faq/

  12. Donna Hull says:

    I’m a person who dives in one small step at a time so I admire that you and Dale are jumping with both feet. When I was growing up, we had a meatless day at least once-a-week because of budget constraints rather than concern about eating healthily. One way my husband and I limit meat is to cut down on the serving size. I’ll cook two organic, free-range chicken breasts for dinner. We divide one breast for one meal, which gives us a second one to divide for another meal. That also helps with cooking duties, too.

    • Kerri says:

      Excellent idea, Donna. We did have at least 1-2 meatless nights per week before doing this and we added in a couple of more. The dairy , cheese specifically, will be harder on us than the meat, I think. Keep in mind my husband is going to have a “free day,” at least that’s the plan. I will have to have sushi occasionally, too. LOL

  13. Just want to say that the dish you posted looks mouth-watering!

  14. Congratulations on making that commitment, Kerri! And kudos to Dale for being willing to try it!I have attempted vegetarianism at different times, but like you and pork tenderloins, there was always a cheesy pork burrito somewhere calling my name and eventually I would answer.

    My two daughters have been more successful at vegan/vegetarian diets. One is completely vegan, the other is vegetarian. They have been eating this way for years and are very healthy.

    We don’t eat a lot of meat, probably once or twice a week and it’s usually chicken. We also eat salmon and other seafood. It really wouldn’t take much for us to go entirely vegetarian, but don’t know that I could ever convince David to give up cheese and meat altogether. I have settled for an “almost” vegetarian diet, but hope to eventually eliminate meat entirely. Maybe I should watch the film “Forks Over Knives” with David! I think you have to do this as a couple, or it’s not going to work. You and Dale stand a much better chance of success, with both of you committed to it.

    One of the dangers of veganism was addressed earlier in this thread, and having a vegan daughter I can confirm it’s true, that is the problem with soy being in SO many vegan products! Sometimes the list of ingredients (including unpronounceable chemicals) on the label of a “vegan” product, is longer than on a non-vegan product containing meat.

    Good luck with this, I applaud you and Dale making this kind of serious dietary change. I hope you find some kind of snack that will satisfy Dale’s cravings- I’ll ask my vegan daughter for suggestions, if you like. I’ve learned a lot from her about ways to eliminate meat from my diet and eat healthier. She introduced me to Quinoa a couple years ago and I love it! I have a great Quinoa stuffed pepper recipe that I’d be glad to share if you are interested. I look forward to hearing updates as to how things go with you and Dale while developing new eating habits! Good luck!

    • Kerri says:

      Thanks, Kathleen, I would love for you to ask your daughter for any snacks/advice. That would be great! Yes, you and David should watch “Forks Over Knives” together. I think he would be impressed with it. Just got back from the health food store. It really isn’t that much more to eat healthier, which is also surprising.

  15. alisa bowman says:

    I think it helps to do this a little at a time. Also, if you want more motivation, google Mercy for Animals and watch some of their undercover videos. You’ll never look at a pork tenderloin the same way again. FOK is an awesome documentary.

    • Kerri says:

      We’ve been buying free range, humanely treated meat for nearly two decades now. I tried never to buy factory farmed meat, it’s horrible. Food Inc. really had an impact on me. I love pigs, I think they’re cute. I just cannot stand to eat them anymore, even if they’re treated humanely.

  16. Allie says:

    Kerri – Great post! I recently saw Forks Over Knives and it was very good and inspiring! I made Joe watch it too.

    Good luck and let me know if you want recipes or cooking or product advice!


  17. Good for you Kerri! Big changes like this are hard. For me, the hardest thing is cheese. I use it in so many dishes. But I’m trying to eliminate dairy from my diet also, so it is an ongoing challenge! Keep us posted on how this works for you.

    • Kerri says:

      Cheese is definitely the hardest for us as well, we use it in so much. But I made enchiladas the other day without it and it was good. Milk doesn’t bother me, I had already gone to almond milk and now coconut milk (doctor says commercial almond milk has other stuff in it, even the organic). So, we’ll see how it goes. I will definitely be updating!

  18. Susan says:

    Dr Barnard is starting http://www.pcrm.org/health/diets/kickstart/kickstart-programs tomorrow. or type in 21daykickstart.org

    • Kerri says:

      Thanks, Susan, for the good wishes and the link. I think that is the documentary the doctor is going to give us next. Definitely a challenge, but I think it will be worth it for our health in the end.

  19. Susan says:

    Hi Kerry, I have been a vegetarian for about 18 years. Ate eggs and dairy. Was diagnosed in March that I’m diabetic. (sugar is vegatarian LOL) So I got the book by DR Neal Barnard on reversing diabetes which is a vegan lifestyle. Also pick up the book Engine 2. Highly recommend it as well plus any of Dr Barnards books. Also have both books Forks over Knives. My husband is going on this new life style with me….easier for me than him, but he is adjusting well and has lost 14 lbs. I have lost 9. I am also on the way to getting off of Nexium. Have suffered with indigestion for several years and am sure it was cause by milk products. Loved my ice cream. Like you working makes it hard sometimes to cook from scratch. But the simplier the meal the better.
    Best wishes to you and Dale on your new life style and to better health.

  20. Missy says:

    My cousin made a documentary about eating local and sustainable, whole farming.

    It’s called Locally Abundant. I think you would enjoy it. It is available online for free.

  21. Kerri says:

    Oh, my, Olivia, I feel for you. Your dietary restrictions would have made my head explode. We have always eaten anything we wanted, which probably has led to some of the health problems we both have now. I did notice that most everything contains soy, and while it is good for you in moderation, like anything else, it can be bad as well. Thanks for sharing and the good wishes. I was heartened today when Dale said he had to travel out of town with a co-worker later this afternoon. They typically stop at a rib place and I said, “Well, you’ll be off your diet already.” He said, “I’ll just get a salad.” Yay! 🙂

  22. Olivia says:

    I was vegetarian for many many years until I was diagnosed with celiac disease while attending graduate school. Since my husband and kids wanted meat it just became too difficult trying to cook different meals while having the pressure of school on top of that. So many of the vegetarian foods I ate had gluten in them and, with an uber sensitive digestive tract, beans are almost impossible for me to digest. Because my mother had breast cancer I also try to avoid soy. I generally eat fish ( we live by the ocean) or chicken or eggs rather than red meat, altho we do eat some red meat. I don’t consume a lot of dairy since I am also lactose intolerant but I do like cheese and, occasionally, yogourt. I am also not a big eater of grains . . . I prefer a diet of mostly vegetables with a little bit of meat, or preferably fish, (seafood) thrown in here and there.

    Also, with my gluten intolerant dietary restriction, it became next to impossible to eat out or even go to friends’ homes for dinner since they were already spooked by trying to prepare something I could eat . . . unfortunately, when they tried to do both that and vegetarian, it usually ended up having hidden gluten in it so I couldn’t eat it anyway.

    Actually, vegetables are my favourite food group and I eat a lot of them. As I said, being celiac already restricts my food choices so much that I just have to find things to eat that keep my weight up since I am, and always have been, severely underweight. I am one of those weird people who wishes she could just take a pill rather than having to grow/buy/store/cook food!

    Good luck with your new eating habit!