As I briefly mentioned in a recent Ten Thoughts Tuesday post, I am returning to my old vegetarian ways. Well, my ovo-lacto vegetarian ways. On Thanksgiving, I made a pre-cooked turkey breast. Nothing extraordinary happened but the experience of handling meat and bones in that way was almost too much for me. I have a very hard time with the fact that it was once living. *shiver*
I really don’t think eating meat is wrong, but it’s just so real. Meat comes from something that had a mother and a face! LOL (I read that a long time ago and it always makes me cringe and laugh at the same time.) I also really dislike that some animals are raised JUST to kill later. That really bothers me. Wrong? No, I don’t think so…but bothersome.
A Gradual Change
I was not a vegetarian until several years ago. Before that, I ate most meats and just kind of ignored what bothered me about it. When I started my journey to healthy eating (and weightloss) with Sparkpeople, though, I found that I had more of an open mind about trying new foods and healthier options (think: tofu and veggie burgers.) Ultimately, removing meat from my diet was a pretty natural thing to do.
I did not get rid of all meats right away. I dropped red meat first; I replaced ground beef with ground turkey, and started having veggie burgers in place of hamburgers. I also easily stopped having seafood. I only ever had shrimp anyway, and it was no big deal that I wasn’t having it anymore.
Next, I tried tofu and soy protein and found ways of cooking them that were to my liking. I was also drinking a whey protein drink 1-2 times a day to keep my energy levels up and support the amount of exercising I was doing.
Finally, I got rid of chicken and poultry. I really only missed it when we ate out. I love chinese food, and having just rice and vegetables instead of dishes like Mongolian Chicken was HARD. lol
Holidays were challenging. After all, most of them revolve around a meal with a meaty main dish! I got creative and found that side dishes provided more than enough to fill me. My husband and son still ate meat fairly often, but I only cooked it occasionally.
Overall, I think my success in switching over completely was largely due to the fact that I took it so slow. I allowed myself time to adjust to my new menu. There was nothing temporary about the changes I made.
When I entered my pregnancy with Samuel, I had already been meatless for a few years. It was really strange to crave meat in the first trimester. I felt it was wise to give in to the craving because I was supporting the growth of a CHILD, and maybe I needed it. But I remember when I clearly no longer needed it. I was just into the second trimester and was eating a hamburger from a restaurant called O’Charley’s. I was suddenly disgusted by it and couldn’t even finish my meal! I was done. No more meat. Until he born, that is.
It is incredible to me, looking back, that I was able to grow a person for months without any meat, but as soon as I became a lactating mother again, it was ABSOLUTELY necessary that I have it!! I allowed myself to have poultry, but the idea of red meat was not cool, so I passed.
My body had such a strong need for calories, fat, protein, etc. that I actually gained weight while breastfeeding. Over the course of 25 months of nursing, I gained over 10 lbs (which I am now working on losing). I could NOT be a vegetarian while breastfeeding (some women can, by the way), which bothered me for a long time, but then I accepted it and just focused on just enjoying my little one.
Once I weaned him, I noticed changes to my appetite and energy levels right away. I wasn’t starving all the time anymore, nor was I in constant need of high-protein foods. It has felt lovely to be normal again (wow, bring on the mommy guilt! )
I am now having to re-learn the healthy habits I had once mastered. I am not talking about just meat-free here. I’m really referring to the MANY lifestyle changes that I had to make back in 2006, only one of which was becoming a vegetarian. I am already down to having poultry just once a week, but am slowly working on the other changes as well. I know I need to up my water, and of course the exercising needs to start…
I am excited about the things to come in 2014!!