I cannot believe it has already been one year since I decided to go meatless. Honestly, the journey has not been as difficult as I thought it would be – and I started right before the holidays. Before I share a bit of my journey, I do want to throw out this disclaimer: I am by no means trying to push anyone to be vegetarian. Changing your lifestyle and what you eat is a very personal decision; however, if you would like to just read about my experience and incorporate more plant-based food in your diet, then please keep reading 🙂
In my household we didn’t have meat very often in general but I will say I cut out things slowly. First, the chicken and pork since I didn’t enjoy eating them anyway, then turkey and lastly it was beef. I am a believer in taking things one step at a time and I think this is partially why it was easier as opposed to cutting everything out all at once. Like I mentioned by the time the holidays came around, I was fully vegetarian. I come from a Mexican family where it is tamales, enchiladas, and posele galore, especially Christmas and I was worried it would be challenging to find foods I could eat. For thanksgiving we have a traditional turkey-dinner but I was okay with eating just potatoes, vegetables, bread and dessert. By the time Christmas came around my family knew I had stopped eating meat, and instead of questioning my reasons, they made meatless tamales for me and I was super grateful for their support. The support I have received from my friends and family have been amazing and I am very appreciative for that. My boyfriend, who is not vegetarian, is very supportive as well and enjoys trying the foods I make and the faux “meats” I get. Because my parents were overly concerned about me not eating meat at all, we came to a compromise that I would still eat fish, however, I only eat it about twice a month (if that) so I still choose to call myself a vegetarian rather than a pescatarian, not that it makes a huge difference.
One of the biggest things I have noticed since I have become vegetarian is that I get sick a lot less often. I have had chronic tonsillitis since I was a kid and I’ve always had a weak immune system so regular colds and illnesses were common for me. This past year though, I’ve only been sick about four times! A big difference for me. Of course, I can’t claim this is because I don’t eat meat, rather the fact that I am now more conscious about how many fruits and vegetables I eat, which does make a big difference in providing me with antioxidants that help protect my immune system.
Two FAQ would be if I have lost weight, and the answer to that is that I did not. In fact, because I eat more nutrient-dense foods, I am hoping to gain weight in a healthy way and keep incorporating strength training in my work out routines. The second question is whether or not I think I’ll ever go back to eating meat. As of now, the answer is a firm no. This isn’t a decision I forced myself to make; I chose this on my own and a lot of it was based on spiritual and health reasons that I don’t think would change.
If you are thinking of becoming vegetarian or adding more plant-based foods in your diet, it is important to keep vitamins and minerals in mind. It is completely possible to get all the nutrients you need from plant-based foods – with the exception of Vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 can only be found in animal products and it is a vitamin we need. A deficiency in Vitamin B12 may cause anemia, tingling or numbness, fatigue, memory loss, or disorientation. It’s chief function is that it is part of coenzymes needed in new cell synthesis and it helps maintain nerve cells. For adults, the DRI is only 2.4 mg/day so what this means is that if you decide to fully cut out animal products, you may still get this vitamin from drinking fortified plant milk or by taking a dietary supplement once a week. I personally would say go for the fortified foods as opposed to supplements. If you are vegan, or thinking of cutting all animal-products from your diet, then you also want to make sure your plant-based milk is fortified with Calcium and Vitamin D and have a glass of it, at least, a day as well as cereals enriched with Iron. This way you can go about your new dietary change in the healthiest way.
Lastly, though it does make it easier being around other meatless eaters and supportive people, don’t get discouraged if others question you or try and convince you to eat meat again. What you eat is a personal choice and you’re allowed to make your own decision. Stay strong and remind yourself why it is you are choosing to not eat meat. You don’t owe anyone an explanation. And if you decide to go back to eating meat or have a balance between eating meat and plant-based, that is perfectly okay too! Do what is right for you 🙂
I don’t want to make this terribly long and I do hope you have enjoyed learning a little about my journey. If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to write it in the comments below!
Also, winter break is almost here! I have been working on a few posts that I need to perfect after finals and post them for all of you and then my plan is to write at least a dozen during break so that I no longer have to go through these long periods of no content. I do appreciate all of you who stop by and are subscribed to continuously support me, means so much to me!
Thank you for stopping by 🙂
We made some delicious tacos using the Gardein Beefless Ground meat – we used about a cup and a half for 4 tacos. We cooked it on the stovetop with light vegetable oil and onion then seasoned with pepper and lime. Lastly, we topped it with some lettuce, diced tomato, avocado, cilantro, green salsa and lime!