“Oh, you’re a vegetarian??!!” is the comment I commonly hear. While I changed to the veggie side for a brief stint back in the day, living without chicken always seemed impossible. Until suddenly it was so possible.
I am no meat eater.
I gave up eating meat somewhere in my adolescence. Hot dogs and sloppy Joe’s were typical dinners growing up, but at one point I said no more pork steaks and never looked back.
So basically the majority of my life I have survived without beef or pork. Countless times I have politely declined to eat meat dishes, only to receive that confused look to why I would ever choose not to. “No bacon??!”
My first response would always be, “No, I am not a vegetarian. I eat chicken and fish.” I would never think I could live without lobster and scallops or boneless buffalo wings.
“I just don’t like the taste of meat,” would directly follow. And it’s true. My taste buds are just not turned out by the food. Everything from the smell, look and taste just doesn’t do it for me. Sure, I do feel bad for any animal that dies—they have right to life too— but I understand that is what they are here on Earth for.
But I am so against factory farming, GMOS and added antibiotics, that I only ever really enjoy organic chicken. Saying no to meat was no problem.
I must admit that there have been times over the years where a juicy cheeseburger is heaven. But those occasions are few and far in between. I am also a lover of ground turkey tacos, turkey burgers, and my favorite, turkey bacon. But these are occasional treats too.
Recently, I felt like all I was eating was chicken. Suddenly, I was becoming more and more turned off when eating it. I noticed I wasn’t finishing my plate and stopped wanting it. So I decided that I might as well embrace a vegetarian diet and see how my body feels.
My diet already consists of mostly organic spinach, tomatoes, peppers, tuna, cheese, cheese and more cheese. I am also a fan of Greek yogurt with flaxseed and other organic granola. When it comes to fruits, I am a blueberry-blackberry-any-berry lover. I do make sure I eat lots of greens.
So far it has been six days since my last “meat” (including chicken) meal, although I might have had tuna on one of these days. I plan on eating fish on occasion, so I think it’s more fitting to say I’m flirting with the pescetarian side.
Changing my diet to be completely meat free means I am watching to make sure I am giving my body all the nutrients it needs. After last month’s half marathon, I have taken some time off from running long distances, so I am not worried I will burn too many calories. Protein is my main concern, especially since I don’t like beans or tofu, both staples in vegetarian diets.
However, there are still many ways vegetarians can get protein. Protein is the building block of life, used in the body to promote cells growth when broken down into amino acids.
Greek yogurt is a great source of protein. I eat Stonyfield Organic Greek Nonfat yogurt that has 15 gram of protein per 5.3 oz. serving.
Nuts are also a good source a protein. But be careful. If you snack on them, you can add unwanted calories, so it’s best to add a few into a yogurt or make a trail mix and portion. Nut butter is another good option. I love peanut butter and just bought samples of Almond butter to try for the first time.
Chia seeds, chickpeas, and green peas are all alternative protein sources. Non-dairy milk is also a source, and since I drink Almond milk as my “milk” of choice, I am pleased to continue to drink away. On the downside, it only has 1 gram of protein per 8 oz.
As a quinoa lover I am proud to say that it contains 18 grams of protein and 9 grams of fiber to keep you full longer. Whole grains are also a good choice.After eating a diet basically of spinach and lettuce for three days, I finally made it to the supermarket to pick up some new staples of my vegetarian diet. As a reporter, I have covered the expansion of gluten-free options in New York, so I was pleased to see in New Jersey the local supermarket had lots of vegetarian, organic, soy-free, and gluten-free products.
I went HAM in the organic aisle, leaving the store happy that I will be fueling my body with healthy foods.
But why make the switch to a vegetarian diet anyways? For me, I already don’t like meat, so why not? I love vegetables and fruits anyway, so might as well focus my diet on those foods.**Disclaimer: RedBull and coffee creamers are not mine!! =D
I have read books on runners who fueled wither bodies through ultra marathons on strictly plant-based vegan diets.
Reducing saturated fat intake from animal products decreases the risk of heart disease, the number one killer in America. Studies have found links between meat and cancer. Women who ate processed meats were found to be at the highest risk for breast cancer.
Vegetarians also are known to have lower cholesterol levels and are at a lower risk of developing chronic diseases. Vegetarians are also proven to have a lower risk for diabetes and obesity and generally live longer lives than meat eaters.
While I support those who love meat, adding it into my diet just isn’t something for me right now. Time will tell how long I stick to my new lifestyle, but the key is to gradually convert and make sure that you give your body the nutrients like iron and protein that are missing from eating meat.
Will I miss “meat”? So far I have no plans on going back.