In the past year, I’ve cut out all meat from my diet and have been very pleased with the results. While I was nervous about it at first, giving up chicken, turkey, beef, pork and fish has been one of the most positive changes in my life that I can think of. This article discusses ten things I learned after not eating meat for one year. I hope you enjoy it!
1) How people reacted
When you tell people you’re not eating meat, they react in all sorts of different ways—some concerned, some confused, some with horror. Regardless of how others felt about my choice, I was happy with it. I also reached a point in my life where the people I surround myself ultimately said, "well you do you." Don't get me wrong, I heard comments like, "I could never give up meat." and "Why would you even do that?" I also heard, "Aren't you already skinny?" But at the end of the day, this was something that I wanted to do. No one's opinion would make me do otherwise.
2) How this affected my mindset
Going vegetarian was really quite amazing. People often assume that if you don’t eat meat, you are automatically an environmentalist—which is not always true. But since I had to read up on all of my food choices, it became very clear to me where most of my food came from, how it was produced and what impact that had on our environment. And just as importantly, it made me think about my role in that system. I can honestly say that my biggest worried before I went vegetarian, was honestly giving up fast food like McDonald's, Dominos, Wendy's and KFC. I was only eating meat during the weekends for about 6 months before cutting it out completely, but I also was not making wise choices there either. To start my transition, I dived into a vegan alkaline diet. I had to create meal plans based on my metabolism and I was cooking every other day. Of course I could've meal prep but one thing I am working on is eating left over. What I realized though this process was that when I knew that fast food was not an option for me, I did not crave it or want it. Another thing that I noticed was that because I was requiring myself to track my meals and actually create a schedule around cooking, I began to realize that I was in control of my life. This was a eye opener for me.
3) What was harder than expected
Finding a variety of vegan and vegetarian options in restaurants. Many restaurants don’t advertise themselves as vegetarian-friendly, and you can run into a lot of surprises when ordering off a non-vegan menu. Overcoming these challenges is often easier if you research the restaurant before going. I also found being the one to give suggestions when going out to eat helps a lot as well. No matter where you go, there are usually at least two entrees that will work for your dietary preferences; just ask about ingredients before making your final decision.
4) What was easier than expected
While it didn’t quite match my long-term expectations, giving up meat wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. The biggest difficulty with being a vegetarian was getting protein. Sure, protein deficiency can be dangerous if you don’t get enough of it—but luckily, there are lots of plant-based proteins available to us. I made sure all my meals had protein in them. Sometimes, my snacks would as well.
5) How my health changed
I am not here to talk down on those who chooses to eat meat. Nor am I going to over glorify the health benefits that I saw in myself. So here is how my health changed:
- I did see an adjustment to energy. At first it was low. But then as time went on and my body adjusted, I saw an increase in energy. I had an increase in energy throughout the day.
- My mindset changed. I began having less negative thoughts and more positive ones.
- My skin improved. I had a lot of pigmentation and dark spots on my face. I noticed that this time last year my old zit scars were darker, but now they are either gone or fading.
- My hair started to grow. I was at a plateau when it came to har growth. After about three months, my hair began to grow at a more faster rate than before.
- My allergies are starting to clear up. Are they still. bad? Yes, but they are not as bad as before. I use to joke I had allergies 365 times a year instead of seasonal. Now I can say that I get bit of a break during the winter months.
6) All things considered, would I do it again?
Absolutely. This experience has changed my life in such positive ways that it would be impossible to say no if someone asked me to do it again. But let’s be real: It wasn’t always easy and there were plenty of moments where I found myself craving a juicy, burger or a tasty piece of steak. In those moments, all I had to do was remind myself why I was doing it—and then eat something else! Learning how to incorporate meatless meals into your diet isn’t as hard as you might think—but you have to work at it.