The Great Meal Plan Shake-Up

September 25, 2017

This past weekend, my husband and I made the rash and blanket decision to become vegetarians for 2 out of 3 meals a day. Yeah, I think we’re weird, too.

We didn’t make this decision out of any kind of concern for the planet or sense of nobility towards our feathered and furry brethren. We aren’t training for triathalons. We aren’t particularly concerned about our triglycerides or cholesterol, and we’re not cutting out other dietary Satans like sugar or alcohol. We’re not trying to reduce our carbon footprint. We’re not trying to make a political point.

Truth: we’re doing this because we feel a bit squishy around the middle and we’re kinda bored.

Not the best reason for shaking up your dietary routine, but not the worst, either…right?

There actually is one other reason for trying this little plan, which involves all of the physical fuckery that’s been going in my life for the past year. The kind of physical fuckery that doctors cannot find reasons for, or cures for, or even some type of relief from. Tinnitus. Vertigo. Vomiting. Heartburn. Headaches. Stabbing eye pain (newest bit of fun). Leg cramps. Insomnia.

It’s bullshit, it’s bullshit, it’s bullshit and even I am so dang sick of hearing myself complain about it.

However, I’m not so sick of it that I’ll commit to going fully meat-free, going vegan, or cutting out sugar/alcohol. If I do all of those things, I will surely want to die, and I think the purpose of this plan is to keep myself from wanting to kill myself. I am, in the end, a realist.

My husband actually did suggest the vegan thing.

I’d been talking about Mark Bittman’s new cookbook, which revolves around his newfound lifestyle of eating vegan for breakfast and lunch, and then eating modest amounts of meat and dairy (organic) for the evening meal.

I told my husband I was thinking of buying the book and he said, “You’re thinking of trying it?”

“No,” I said. “I’m interested in the recipes–Bittman’s recipes are always good. I own all of his other cookbooks and they’re solid.”

“Well, you could try it,” he said. “I mean, with all of the horrible physical stuff you’ve been going through…”

“Oh my God, it’s official,” I said. “Living in Boulder County has hi-jacked our brains. We’ve become those people. The first thing that goes wrong in our lives or with our bodies and we immediately assume we’re poisoning ourselves with food. Let’s go stock up on flaxseed, kombucha and tempeh burgers.”

“What could it hurt?” he said, but he was laughing. He knew it sounded stupid.

“It would be a pain in the ass,” I said. “I’m not going to all that trouble to cook special weirdo meals for myself.”

“What if I did it with you?” he said, and I just about wet my pants.

“You would do that,” I said.

“Sure,” he said, taking a swig of beer. “How hard can it be?”


No, I didn’t kill him, because he’s a man and men are morons about such matters.

Yes, Dearly Beloved, it would be extremely hard. Especially for the person in charge of menu planning, grocery shopping, recipe searching, and cooking of all things in this household.

You know…..Me.


“Vegans do not eat dairy or cheese,” I reminded him.

“So?” he said.

“If I give up cheese, you are never getting laid again,” I said.

“Okay, so maybe not vegan, then.”


Which led us, windingly, down the path of considering going vegetarian for 2/3 of the day. I told him I’d think about it, and then thought about it the rest of the day.

“The thing is,” I said, “We eat pretty damn clean anyways–even though I hate the term ‘clean eating.’  I mean, besides the chocolate and the ice cream and the alcohol. And the occasional Cheeto disaster.”

Know why that is? It’s because I cook all of our meals. Ever since I’ve gotten my gall bladder out, eating out at restaurants is a risky proposition. Too much butter or fat makes me physically ill, and I have no idea, when I eat a restaurant meal, what’s really in my food. Even something healthy sounding like salmon with lentils could have tons of fat lurking in it, and it’ll fuck with me. It has fucked with me, nearly every time I’ve eaten out since the surgery. Why eat out only to vomit all night?

I can eat Japanese or Vietnamese if I order carefully, and that’s about it. Sometimes Indian, but I have to be careful. But mostly, I cook. It’s been a little sad, but what are you going to do? We’ve adjusted okay; instead of going to dinner, my husband and I go out for cocktails. Do what ya gotta do.

“Well, buddy, you are going to suffer more than me,” I said. “Food-wise.”

“I know,” he said. “You eat those oddball bowl thingys for breakfast and lunch most of the time anyways.”  This is true. Almost every breakfast and lunch, when the weather is nice, I chow down on oddball bowls or salads. In the winter, it’s soup. All I’m going to have to do is adjust my protein in my oddball bowls/salads to legumes, nuts, cheese or a soft-boiled egg (but not in the morning! No eggs in the morning!)

Yes, I said egg.

This is gonna be an ovo-lacto vegetarian household, thank you very much. My husband needs eggs in the morning because all other protein-filled things (milk, yogurt, nut butters) make him gag in the morning. What can I say? My husband has his morning oddities and I have mine.

So yeah.

We’re doing this.

For a month.

After a month, we will re-evaluate. This is just a little experiment and I’m not sure how big of a pain in the ass it’s going to be. And truthfully, I doubt it will do fuck-all for my physical woes, but it’s worth a shot.

It’s already a pain in the ass, because figuring out what to pack my husband in his lunch for this week has been a conundrum. This is Sandwich Man, people! The man who lives on sandwiches stuffed with organic turkey, chicken, ham, roast beef or tuna. ACK! What have I gotten myself into? Sandwich Man can deal with a caprese sandwich or a hummus wrap, but those are going to get old fast.

Vegetarian lunchbox meals?


Help? Ideas? Insipiration?

My ears are WIDE open.


{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Kate Elliott September 25, 2017 at 6:11 am

My weirdo familylives on tart apple, cheddar cheese and hummus sandwiches. The grownups add harissa to theirs. Delish!


Annie September 25, 2017 at 10:20 am

One of our lunch standbys is a ‘bean bowl’ with all the things you’d put in a burrito plus chips.

Have you looked into atypical migraines at all? So many of your weird symptoms can be migraine variant symptoms that it makes me wonder…the stabbing eye pain especially- is a common migraine variant pain.


Dana Talusani September 25, 2017 at 3:04 pm


So much of what you just said makes sense. Appointment with the neurologist Friday. I love you!


elizabeth September 26, 2017 at 6:09 am

You should 100% use this as a reason to add Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbooks to your library–many of his dishes in his restaurants are vegetarian-friendly. Plenty I believe is the one with the most veg-heavy recipes, but Ottolenghi and Jerusalem both have solid selections too.


Dana Talusani September 26, 2017 at 8:56 am

Elizabeth, I always trust your cookbook recommendations! Thank you!


Kel September 26, 2017 at 6:42 am

We’re kinda in a vaguely similar boat. We want to eat more vegetables and less meat, but he’s diabetic so he has to have protein, and I have sensory problems and cannot eat most beans unless they’re buried like Pompeii.

So we’re trying to do more salads topped with boiled egg or sliced steak or chicken. Very little pasta or potatoes or rice.

This whole eating healthy thing is a royal pain in the ass.


Dana Talusani September 26, 2017 at 8:56 am


It is a royal pain in the ass, isn’t it?


Dawn in MI September 26, 2017 at 8:40 am

OMG. A year ago next month we decided to cut out red meat because of husband’s gout. Then I decided we’d go meatless a couple days a week. Then I tried to be meatless 4 days a week. I have to say, cooking vegan (and probably vegetarian) is hard work. Lots and lots and lots of chopping. And so much of it is sort of Mexican, with lots of spices, and of course husband doesn’t like spicy. Sigh. ANYWAY…we’re still plugging along, though I have weeks when I just want to throw a piece of meat on the grill. It was so much easier. You’ve probably already checked out the THUG Kitchen cookbooks. We really like the Lentil Tacos with Carrot-Jicama Slaw. (page 144 of first Thug Cookbook).

I am learning not to miss cheese so much, though this week I bought a small block and have been rationing it out to myself. Have to say that his gout isn’t that much better, and neither of us lost weight.



Dana Talusani September 26, 2017 at 8:59 am


I love Thug Kitchen! I think it would be REALLY hard to cook vegetarian or vegan if someone didn’t like spice! So many of the recipes that I gravitate towards are Indian and Mexican, both spicy. Even the Asian inspired ones need lots of spice, I think. You are a saint! I hope your husband appreciates it, although it’s got to be rough if the gout isn’t much better!


Kel September 26, 2017 at 9:57 am

Oooh I second the Thug Kitchen love. One of my favorite cookbooks, even if some of the stuff wouldn’t fly in my house. =)


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