After years of feeling sick every time we ate meat, Derek and I decided to become vegetarians. For someone who ate meat and enjoyed it, I thought it was going to be hard to give up. The truth of the matter is, it probably would have been, if Derek wasn’t on board with me. Watching your partner take pleasure in eating juicy steaks, BBQ ribs, burgers and chicken would probably get the better of anyone, so having a supportive partner take the road to vegetarianism with you is a lot easier. The first few weeks are were difficult, but knowing that “on average”, vegetarians live longer than meat eaters, we knew we were making a healthier change and it would be beneficial in the long run.
I want to start off by saying, contrary to popular beliefs and stereotypes, we’re not all up on a moral high horse, food shaming you for eating meat. Honestly, I’m doing this for myself and take no offence to what others do with their lives. Just like I wouldn’t judge you for eating meat, I don’t need to hear all the benefits of eating meat and that us, as humans, were born to eat meat. That being said, I am open to conversation and have no problem answering your questions. If you’re thinking about becoming a vegetarian, be prepared to hear a lot of hate and answer a ton of questions.
Being a vegetarian doesn’t mean we’re on a diet or depriving ourselves from food we enjoy, instead it’s about making healthier decisions. In fact, you’d be surprised at how many meals you eat that are already vegetarian. It opens your eyes to what you put into your body and makes grocery shopping much more exciting. There are a ton of delicious meal options and endless possibilities, without having to head over to the meat aisle. Before we head into the dreaded and daunting question, how do you get enough protein in your diet, just remember that beans, nuts, greens, and even fruits have high levels of protein, you just need to know which ones to consume on the daily. Being a vegetarian is all about getting creative with meals to ensure you’re getting the nutrients you need.
So, in order to ensure I get enough protein, I switched my favourite dishes with protein alternatives. Bean salad instead of chicken salad, replacing the ground beef in my chilli to fake meat (which is usually higher in protein than animal meat and just as tasty), substitute beef burgers with veggie burgers, which truthfully taste better anyways, as they are loaded with extra seasoning and flavour. The list goes on and on. Also, by cutting out meat, I’ve lowered my saturated fat intake and have become much more aware of my fruits and vegetables. There are many benefits of upping your fruits and vegetables, one of them being the amount of energy they provide to get you through the day.
Before becoming a vegetarian, I was eating meat regularly and my body was showing it. I was battling painful indigestion and heartburn, with every meal, and my stomach always felt bloated and heavy. My skin was consistently irritated and red, not to mention the daily breakouts. No matter how many hours I slept, or how much caffeine I consumed, I always felt tired. After only a few short weeks, I was amazed at how quickly my body, skin and energy level started to change. The first few days, I can still remember thinking, my digestive system is finally starting to feel normal. No longer did I have to rely on coffee and soda to get me through the day, and my skin was finally starting to clear up. It’s been over 2 years now, and I haven’t had the flu, a common cold or felt sick after any meal. I can eat as much as I want, while still maintaining the same weight, and without having discomfort or pain in my belly.
Since plant-based diets are rich in fibre, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, I love knowing that my immune system is stronger, it’s helping to slow down the gaining weight process, while reducing and preventing certain diseases. I’m also loving that I’m expanding my taste horizons. Before, I would stick to the same old meals, now each dish we create at home is full of diverse, colourful and delicious flavour. Not only am I eliminating harmful chemicals and hormones pumped into livestock to help prevent diseases in the animals and speed up their maturation process, I’m also saving my furry friends. Before starting on this journey, I never really thought about how expensive meat can be. Fruits, vegetables and grains are not only healthier, they’re less expensive, providing me with extra cash to spend on other things.
Being a vegetarian, isn’t just about cutting out meat, it’s a lifestyle. If you’re thinking about becoming a vegetarian, don’t expect everyone to embrace your new choices and be sure to not fall into the junk food cycle. Just because potato chips are vegetarian, doesn’t mean you should be having them with every meal. Read as many blogs, books and documentaries as you can on becoming a vegetarian, to ensure you’re doing it correctly and safely.