Today marks the 6 month anniversary of removing all meat, poultry, fish, and eggs from my diet. To this day, I do not consider myself a vegetarian, I’m simply not eating meat right now. My reasons to avoid meat were originally out of convenience, and my reasons to continue were out of observation.
Late October 2016, I found myself at a yoga retreat in Malibu, CA. Meals were included and vegetarian meals were an option. Since I had dabbled with refraining from meat years before after reading “The Blood Type Diet” - where I learned that “A” Blood types are supposed to thrive on a vegetarian diet - I thought ‘Hey, it’s only 10 days, let’s see how this goes.’
Unlike eliminating caffeine, I did not suffer any physical consequences. I actually followed a vegan diet for 10 days. It clearly helped that I do not mind the taste of tofu and, as a bonus, it helped me immerse myself into vegan-yogini stereotype. *Side note: many yogis and yoginis are not vegan or vegetarian.
After the first 10 days I did not feel lacking. I did not feel weak, or tired, or hungry as I had anticipated. I felt great! Excluding meat and all animal products actually made me feel better.
I found that I was more conscious of of what I was eating -- and what I was choosing to eat. I realized just how often I would grab “whatever” to stuff in my mouth -- a pepperette, cheese string, more ‘samples’ of the dinner during preparation than I would care to admit.
My digestion was spot on. Without getting into any details, let’s just say it was effortless :) In my nutrition school, one seminar discussed the absurdity of having magazines and books in the washroom. Now I get it. Zero effort required.
I’ll admit, following a vegan diet was difficult. Without any dairy products, I initially tried to substitute them with ‘vegan friendly’ cheese. Gross. Really. I fooled myself into liking them for a few weeks -- but then, I became honest with myself and put an end to that.
Without meat or dairy, I found that I would plan my meals around starches like brown rice, sweet potatoes, quinoa. Although these foods are all natural and healthy, for me, it did not help the waistline. As a health coach, of course I experiment on myself, so this lead to minimizing starches. My experience with this will be the next blog post so stay tuned!
After one month of veganism, I began to add cheese back into my diet. To this day, I am conscious of the amount I eat -- I start with half of what the recipe calls for and, and if I'm not following a recipe -- half of what I want. 173 days later, I still have to consciously stop myself from overindulging on cheese.
Without starches and meat, I had to become super creative in the kitchen. I did not want to spend hours in the kitchen nor did I want to consume fake vegetarian ‘meats’. I began to plan my meals around vegetables; experimenting with ones I had never tried, testing new cooking techniques -- roasted broccoli is awesome -- and adding more spices to my vegetables. Last night, for example, I had steamed green beans, button mushrooms and yellow onion sauteed in coconut oil, and zucchini slices roasted with olive oil, garlic, paprika, and fresh parmesan cheese.
At the beginning of this ‘no meat’ experiment, I could not have imagined the profound effect this would have on me. 183 days later, I have lost 20 lbs (yay) and feel better about myself knowing that I am making conscious decisions to support my best health with what works for me.
More importantly, I feel calm. More calm than I have ever felt in my entire life. Part of me thinks it’s the result of eliminating meat (vegetarian websites will convince you that eating animal products make you angry lol), and part of me thinks it’s due to the change in my mindset around all of my choices.
Whatever it is… I am committed to keep riding this train that leads to living my best life.