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Adjusting to the veggie lifestyle

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Tess Vigeland: So, what are you? Vegetarian? Vegan? Flexitarian? Fruitarian? Pescitarian? Carnivore? Presbyterian? Who knew there were so many ways to categorize eating?

You know, these days going veggie is like reading "War and Peace:" Even if you haven't, you feel compelled to say you did. Vegetarianism is the new black -- or should we say the new green.

But as Cash Peters found out when he made the big switch, the animal-free life can get expensive.


Cash Peters: Ooh, guess what? I've become a vegetarian.

Calm down, I only just started, but I made the decision after I met this guy, Dave Wolfe. He's a health guru and therefore somebody I'd usually avoid.

Dave Wolfe: I've been a raw food vegetarian for over 15 years now and I never feel sore muscles, never wiped out, my brain is never foggy because there's nothing clogging my system.

Yeah, well OK. Problem is if I did turn vegetarian and quit hamburgers, chicken, sausages -- or as I call them, my friends in the fridge -- what was I going to eat instead? You know, realistically. Turns out it's exactly what I'd feared: organic vegetables. -- I know, crazy-people food.

Wolfe: I can take an avocado, sprinkle a little bit of kelp on it and have a little bit of seaweed, like dulce seaweed and I'm good to go.

Yeah, well, good for you.

Colleen Pa -- avocado and seaweed? -- Colleen Patrick-Goudreau is the woman behind vegetarian website compassionatecooks.com.

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau: I encourage people to cook from scratch as much as possible and eat whole foods. We're talking about fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds and beans and herbs and spices and it doesn't take that long to chop up some vegetables.

Well, no, but it takes longer than visiting the drive-thru at Wendy's.

But you know what? I did it anyway. I switched to crazy-people food. Started eating fruits and raw vegetables. Even bought a recipe book and made a vegetarian meatloaf using buckwheat instead of meat. Oh sure, it tastes like the stuff they use as filler in padded envelopes, but it's healthy.

Oddly, Colleen wasn't impressed.

Patrick-Goudreau: I don't know why you're making a buckwheat loaf to begin with, but that's your choice.

Peters: It's vegetarian, that's why.

Patrick-Goudreau: Yes, just because it's vegetarian doesn't mean it's good. You have to learn some new recipes and those will become part of your routine. Perhaps the buckwheat loaf isn't for you.

Oh, you think? But it's not just about the taste. Turning vegetarian can be expensive. My grocery bill shot up about 30 percent. Plus, at home, we had to prepare two meals each time: a delicious, fun, appetizing one for my partner and a vegetarian one for me.

Worst of all, I started feeling horrible!

Janobi Amsden runs RAWvolution, a vegan restaurant in Santa Monica, California.

Janobi Amsden: Doing things one way for a certain amount of time -- let's say 30 or 40 years -- and then changing and expecting 10 days to make a difference. It's like putting one fuel in your car, then putting another one in and expecting it to run even better. No, there's going to be a time period where the two fuels are mixing. The car's going to smoke. It might backfire. It's very confusing. That's what your body's going through.

Oh yeah, I've done a lot of backfiring. I think it's the cabbage. Or the Spirulina tablets. Or the hemp cereal I eat for breakfast. I tell you, you really have to be pretty dedicated to make all these changes. In fact, I said so to Dave.

Wolfe: I'd have a very difficult time arguing with you, very difficult.

Peters: This is an interview. Try.

Wolfe: You have to be a stubborn type of a person. I'll take a stand. I don't care if 6 billion people are against me. I'm going to do what's right for me.

Yeah, well great, but that's you. What about friends, family, you know, people who might not want to eat the filling from padded envelopes?

Actually, Colleen thought I was whining way too much.

Patrick-Goudreau: First of all, you said you're making things that nobody else wants to eat, so I think you may need to look at a few more recipes and I can provide you with some...

Peters: You're not selling a book, are you Colleen, by any chance?

Patrick-Goudreau: Well, actually, I do have a book. Actually, funny you bring that up.

Yeah, funny that. They're all selling stuff, these guys.

Vegetarianism is big business, but if you want to do it to, well, here's my tip: a) Phase it in gradually so your body gets used to it -- and so does your bank manager; I mean, $16 I paid for a jar of Spirulina tablets! $16! Also, b) Find a diet that's right for your body. And who do you go to for advice about that?

Wolfe: You should come to me!

Well, that's one option. Dave's website is sunfood.com, but there are tons of other sites too offering a load of information.

Having said all of that, it's been three weeks now and here's the surprise: I feel fantastic! And not in a crazy-person way. This stuff works. I only hope it's not too little too late.

Peters: So who's gonna die first: me or you?

Wolfe: Um, I hope we both live forever.

Peters: So who'll die first: me or you?

Patrick-Goudreau: I dunno, but I'm going to die happy.

Oh, I can soon put a stop to that. Buckwheat meatloaf, anyone?

I'm Cash Peters for Marketplace Money.

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