I sit outside, absorbing the sun. Wondering if I might be the only one who understands it’s power. These days the only power anyone can see is money. They don’t see how plants reach out of the darkness in search of the sun. They don’t see how our bodies crave it or how we start to go insane without it. Their power is an off brand shade of mint green. It’s printed and sold as if it’s rare, but really there is plenty to go around. Really, we don’t even need it. I sit here, little ol’ me, experiencing the universe. Existing only to exist. Think about it. What goes to the grave with us? Not money. Not fame. I believe it is only our experiences that go with us. I believe that we are recycled into the universe indefinitely to experience life in every form.
So, a little over two weeks ago I stated that I was going to try and remove meat from my diet. I was reluctant to say the word vegetarian, however. I couldn’t even say it to my boyfriend, or my family. I told them “I want to eat as little meat as possible.” Yeah, that’s why I went out on payday and bought all of the veggies I could get my hands on. Seriously. I never used to buy so many veggies, and if I did chances are they were frozen. Now, there isn’t anything wrong with frozen veggies, let me start there. But this time around, instead of my frozen corn and brussel sprouts, I got all sorts of lettuces that I’ve never tried, broccoli, carrots, artichokes, green onions, cilantro and that’s just the few that come to the top of my head. I’ve never really had room in my budget for fresh produce because I was saving most of my money for meat.
That’s the first thing I noticed, more money for the things that make me feel good, that until now were a luxury. Really. Artihcokes were a luxury. I couldn’t condone spending a whole dollar on the worlds smallest artichoke, when you only get such a tiny amount to eat from them. I bought two, and it didn’t even hurt. I couldn’t condone spending so much on herbs that I could just grow, so I’ve rarely bought herbs from a store unless they were dried. (And I still think growing them is the preferred method.) I even spent the extra dollar to buy dried beans because you get more in a bag than you do in a can. I’ve never even had a reason to do so until now. But beans are soon to be my main course in at least a few meals, I have the reason to get all fancy with my beans.
Why does it all feel so fancy? Buying fresh produce feels freakin’ fancy right now. And that’s not even considering the food I’ve made with it. Walking out of the super market with a paper bag (one paper bag, already less waste!) full of produce is kind of fancy. That’s what you see in comercials on prime time tv. It feels fancy because meat was always my mian course, meat is expensive, I never had the extra money for the produce to go with the meat, unless it was potatoes and an onion.
So, that’s my shopping experience. Filling up my cart with produce as my boyfriend shops for the biggest piece of meat that he can find that won’t break his wallet and will feed him for a week, I’ve got the whole top part of the cart full and he’s got just one measly package of meat and some cheese in his (and eventually he grabbed greenbeans to make stew). Onto the kitchen. I spent that afternoon cooking.I made myself some sesame noodles, which turned into a few lunches last week. I also made some rice and bean concoction, mixing crushed tomatoes, cheddar cheese, cilantro, green onion and carrots into it. This became the stuffing for some tortilla burritos, which became the other half of my lunches for the week. I had already been having overnight oats for breakfast in the mornings, so that was a quick and easy thing to make up every couple of nights. Then I had to figure out something for dinners, which wasn’t terribly hard. One of the nights I went out with my dad and his girlfriend, and I decided to try a veggie calzone with mushrooms, olives and broccoli. That turned out to be delicious, and I have no regrets. I had the two artichokes another night, stir fried broccoli, mushrooms, onions, sesame noodles and carrots another night. My favorite by far however was this recipe for roasted four cheese spaghetti squash. I could eat that every day, and I only had to make on change to it. Instead of using chicken boullion, I simply used a few spices I would put on a chicken myself, only because I’m not sure what “chicken powder” is, and that was the main ingredient in the boullion cube.
I’ve found, within the first two weeks, the most important tips a new vegetarian could find. Prep your meals. Always. Prep them, and also, shop for certain recipes. Make sure you’re buying what you need, rather than random things that you’ll throw together later in the week. Make sure what you’re buying can go together, or you risk having to go out again in the week for more ingredients, or whole meals. The second tip I’ve found is to not worry about your label. I feel odd calling myself vegetarian, I am afterall a very very new vegetarian. So am I really a vegetarian? I’m not a seasoned vegetarian anyway, so the word still leaves something of an aftertaste in my mouth. Forget labels. You’re not a vegetarian, you’re not anything. Just a human trying to eat, which happens to be humanities favorite past time, we even do it while experiencing our other favorite past times. When addressing my family, and my new diet, I left out the world vegetarian. They were the first to call me anything, and it was okay. No weird after taste, just pure conversation as I explained the things that turned me onto this new life style.
Turns out, I’m liking this a lot. I’m not finding many difficulties with it, and I’m already seeing good side effects. The most obvious was the money situation. I’m not struggling to keep my cart below a certain amount, in fact I’m struggling to spend everything in the budget. But I’m also mostly headache free, I’ve had one over the past two weeks, which is like an all time low. I’m regular in the bathroom (sorry if that’s tmi, but it’s important even if we don’t talk about it.) I find that I have more energy already, I don’t get tired until sun down, where before I was yawning as early as noon. I’m finding that I’m fuller longer, and when I am full it’s not uncomfortable. I think these are all good things, and I’ll keep you updated on whatever else I notice.
The first two weeks have been successful, and I think this week I’ll be trying a new recipe. Something comforting as we fall into the fall season, litearlly. Roasted Garlic Cauliflower Chowder. I’ll let you all know how it goes!
I always have trouble understanding why money is what rules the world. I was in the car with my dad the other day when he went to the ATM and pulled out money he owed his mom. Nice crisp clean bills. Brand new. I could almost smell them in the passenger seat. Just as he folded the rectangle pieces of paper it hit me that they were really just that. Pieces of paper. This is what the world is currently obsessed with. Once it was water-the substance that we literally need to live. We die after just three days without water so it’s easy to understand why our ancestors chose the rich valleys of rivers to settle. It’s easy to see why they fought over that land. Now we are obsessed with something that we can literally make as much of as we want. It’s not needed to live and it’s not rare. Yet we are totally willing to ruin another person’s life to get it, we are willing even to kill for it.
I know someone who’s currently facing a lawsuit because she couldn’t pay her credit card bills. I know another person who had an ex wife take out a credit card in his name, not even caring how it would effect his credit. I myself have had a member of my boyfriend’s family steal my social security number and attempt to use my credit. Why are we so willing to cause harm to another just for these little pieces of paper, or worse. Now it’s also small rectangle pieces of decorated plastic. It saddens me to know that humanity can be turned against it’s-self for something so small and seemingly worthless. It makes me sad to know that the people that are my age are unable to get a proper education because of a lack of money and that they must put themselves into debt if they want to attain a higher level of education. Once, education was valued. Now it’s only the money that gets you the education that is valued. We have more than enough resources to educate each human being on this planet, as well as feed them. The only thing stopping us is money. How will humanity ever progress?
I’ve found that I can be happy without money. I’ve never really had much of it to begin with, but I know that I will have a smile on my face regardless. I know that the fresh air outside and the feeling of the cool green grass between my toes is worth more than the number of paper bills in my wallet and the number that adds up in the bank. I know that the soothing sounds of the rain storm and the smell of a fresh brewed cup of Earl Grey are all that I need to feel at peace. I have found that I feel richest when I am in a room with those people that love me and we are talking about the world, laughing and ranting together. Breathing together, learning together. In that moment, we are the richest people on this planet. I wouldn’t trade that for any dollar amount. You couldn’t walk up to me and tell me I could have fifty billion dollars if I gave up my family and friends. I would become the poorest person alive, and even a warehouse full of tea couldn’t fix that.
Remember, the next time you look into your wallet, that it does not define how rich or poor you are, and it never will. Remember that there are far more valuable things in this world, things that are worth dying for, things that you would miss long before you missed your last dollar.