Along the way, I learned a few lessons.
Likely, the biggest lesson that I learned was :
Originally, I had anticipated going vegetarian for the month of February. When my husband asked me to move it up to January because he wanted to participate, I did. However, I had not mentally (knowledge-wise) prepared.
Which brings me to the next lesson learned:
Know your daily nutrient needs.
I did not look into my daily nutrient needs prior to beginning the month of vegetarianism. It was a busy time for me so I didn’t do the running and/or yoga that I do on the days other than my M-W-F Pilates class. But it wasn’t just because I was busy, it was also because my muscles were sore for longer after my Pilates classes. This may have been due to them being a harder workout for me, or possibly I wasn’t getting enough protein (which is my husband’s educated guess). Our bodies also need specific vitamins and minerals and I wasn’t monitoring any of those.
Keep your house stocked with choices.
If you failed to heed lesson #1, you may find yourself craving different types of food. While I am no expert, my opinion on this is that your body is asking for a certain nutrient. You should keep your house stocked with choices to satisfy your hunger in the moments.
You should also be aware that it’s likely your body will need an adjustment period to any big changes in diet. I’ve shared in my varying purposes for taking on this challenge. In case you missed them, I’m sharing them again. Heart disease runs in my family and I am endeavoring to lower my risks. While I haven’t tested positive for a specific autoimmune disease (of the ones tested), I did test positive for autoimmune antibodies. The main reason, however, was that I have had digestive health issues for the majority of my life.
I was hoping that going vegetarian would miraculously cure them. Instead, the first five days, my stomach was in more pain than in the past. Some people will say that this is a detox period. I don’t know if that is the case. There was a shift on day 5 in which my body decided that it would cooperate with this diet. I should also mention that I was eating vegan for the first 5 days. My goal was to cut out dairy and so I just included the other components of eating vegan.
After that first week, I found myself relying too much on bread and cheese. I could have made much better food choices. I did spend the entire month being a vegetarian and learned that meat was not that important to me. Sure, there were a few moments when I stood before the refrigerator or pantry and thought, “Oh, that sounds good for lunch. Oh wait, that’s meat!”. This mostly goes back to being caused by failing to heed Lesson #3 and partially Lesson #2. Otherwise, I was very happy with the food choices available to me.
After a month spent as a vegetarian, I had a few takeaways other than just the lessons I’ve shared. One such takeaway came in the form of an article that my husband sent me about NFL players going vegan. I was already familiar with the fact that Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen were 80/20 vegetarians. However, I was surprised by the number of athletes who are vegan.
I was quite fascinated by the 300 pound Vegan, David Carter who is a former NFL player. It made me feel confident that I can work harder at vegetarianism and possibly veganism if I focus on my nutrients.
I’m still not sure if I’ll move toward 100% vegetarian or if 80/20 is a better goal for me. I think with proper nutrients I could be 100% vegetarian locally. Where the 20% comes in for me is that I love to try new foods when I travel and some local delicacies include meat.
Who knows?! Perhaps if I fully shift to 80/20, I will begin to view it all through new eyes.
If you’re wondering if I’ve eaten meat since the end of the challenge…I have. Mostly due to the fact that there are leftovers from making meals for the teenagers and I still struggle with food waste.
I’m still working on the balance.
We are all works in progress.
Let your light shine!