Tuesday, May 24, 2011

National Vegetarian Week!

Happy National Vegetarian Week! (May 23-29)

As a veggie myself, I've decided to dedicate this blog to my personal experience and perhaps inspire others to try out this lifestyle.

I've been a happy veggie for about 3 years now. I started at the end of high school because I ate meat A LOT. Every meal was meat. My father is the most amazing cook/barbecuer I've ever met so meat is easily embraced in my family. Yet one day I decided to go cold turkey and completely give up of my beloved tacos, chicken parms, juicy hamburgers, and savory bacon.

Now for some reason, it wasn't hard for me. I had no regrets or any mixed emotions on giving it all up. And the further I get from my dinner of meat, the less I miss it, the less I want it, and the less I can fathom going back.

But in the beginning of my meatless journey, the road I traveled on was scarce and unfamiliar. I thought giving up meat was enough to satisfy a vegetarian diet. So my meals consisted of oatmeal, apples, salads, and Progresso soups. I lost weight really fast. Too fast, in fact. In 90 days, I lost around 10 pounds and was weak. And my soccer performance on the field showed it (injured easily and major fatigue after a work out). I learned that what I was doing was NOT a healthy vegetarian diet.

I've come a looong way from those days, now highly educated on what foods energize me, which meals give me the best nutrients, and supplemental vitamins to fill in any gaps. I've learned to prepare my own tofu meal and include healthy veggie burgers and other soy products into my diet. When a veg. diet is done right, you feel so fresh and clean from the inside out and you have energy just like anyone else. But to say that the diet is an easy one would be a dishonest. It's not so much about craving meat, its about monitoring yourself daily to make sure your diet is substantial and filling out every nutritional requirement.

For example, I've become very involved in running long distance (6k's or more 5 times a week). A few months ago, I noticed my energy exponentially decreasing and going to work outs was more of a chore than a privilege. My long work outs make it even harder for my body to raise my low iron level and I was on a road heading for iron deficiency anemia. Since I'm trying to balance my love for my diet and love for running, this dilemma is a current issue I'm facing.

So do I recommend this diet to you? Of course you should try it. But I'm not a PETA supporter nor do i believe meat is bad for you. It is our personal decisions that make us unique and only you can decide what you should eat or not. But in honor of the National Vegetarian Week, I recommend you going out to a vegetarian restaurant or making a veggie dinner for one night and experience something you might never have tried!

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