1. Your body releases strange and horrible things as you detox from decades of eating meat and purge with only fruits, vegetables, nuts, dairy, and grains.
2. While it may seem like a gastronomical torture to avoid meat (it did for me in the past) gaining success as a vegetarian is all about surrounding yourself with good food choices so you don’t even feel you’re missing out. I cheated by going “veggie” while in India for a month, where they have so many curries, stews, and vegetarian rice dishes that I wouldn’t have even noticed meat in there. (And cows are sacred and not eaten.)
3. Substitute the words “animal flesh” for “meat” every time you think about dinner and you’ll see it differently.
4. While it’s undeniable that there are huge benefits to eating vegetarian, that diet doesn’t necessarily equal healthy. For instance, breads, pizza, ice cream, junk food, and soda are all technically vegetarian. So I think you should clarify if you just want to eat healthier or actually be vegetarian for another reason.
5. One of the knocks against a vegetarian diet is that it doesn’t provide enough protein, which animal meat has in abundance. I’m a 210-lbs. (at the time) athletic carnivore, and believe me, that’s not a problem at all. Nuts, avocados, yogurt, eggs, peanut butter, and many other natural foods offer more than enough protein.
6. The biggest difference I felt was my energy level. It was more consistent and I didn’t have wide swings of feeling drained and tired and then bursts of energy. I felt consistently alert and active and more calm and relaxed when I was fatigued, not just tired or sleepy. It was like I didn’t burn out and had plenty of energy in reserve always.
7. My skin was clear, my eyes whiter, a nagging toothache from an old tooth filling went away, My anxiety was down, my moods better, I slept better, and I felt lighter, not just in weight but in spirit. However, I don’t know what part of this was because I was near the beach and swimming in the ocean part of the time (but only about a third of my time in India) and what was due to my new diet.
8. Since food was so good and so cheap in India, I ate at least three huge meals every day, with plenty of fruit shakes and iced coffees and snacks in between, and still lost a lot of weight. While I’ve lost weight before as I travel, I did notice it was different this time because it felt more like bod fat I was losing.
9. I didn’t have any cravings to eat meat, but if I did they were mental – not physical. I’d walk by a restaurant that was offering hamburgers or see an ad for fried chicken and think, “I should want that.” But in reality, I just wanted to taste and eat good food – not necessarily that.
10. The first couple days you may feel a little hungry, but after that you feel way more full with less as your stomach and digestive system heals and becomes more efficient. Missing a meal because of travel or whatever wasn’t a big deal at all, where I would have had the shakes and felt panicked before when I ate so much meat.
11. Thank God for eggs.
12. After only a few days, my taste buds changed and I was more in tune with subtle flavors, textures, and tastes. While a veggie sandwich or a dish of veggies over rice would seem extremely bland to me before, I now really enjoyed and appreciated it.
13. I haven’t done much research on the subject, but it’s apparent there are two reasons for going vegetarian: health, and/or cruelty to animals because they are living beings.
I have a good new Australian friend (hi Rana!) who passionately advocates for vegetarianism because it’s cruel for us to kill and eat animals (among other reasons). I respect and appreciate her stance, and that the unspeakable conditions and treatment of animals in slaughterhouses, poultry farms, and generally feeding the modern machine of Western meat consumption are so cruel it’s disgusting.
However, I don’t necessarily believe that means we shouldn’t eat meat. I just think we should try to change conditions so animals are raised, treated, and slaughtered in a more humane and natural way. How can killing something not be cruel?
I realized that if I was placed in the wild with no defenses, I would become some other animal’s food, probably a bear or a mountain line. Or a shark in the ocean. Is that cruel? I don’t see it as so. I look to the Native Americans and their practices of revering and honoring what animals they killed, and made it a point to not waste anything from the kill. When it comes to being in tune with the cycles and circles of nature, I’ll trust the Native Americans.
And purely to play the devil’s advocate, if someone is at a pro-vegetarian protest and a mosquito lands on his or her arm and they swat it, is that cruelty? Do we know definitively that trees and plants and all organisms don’t feel something? If they were out in the wild and it was the option of starve or kill and eat animal flesh, what would they do? Again – I understand and agree with the argument, but I don’t think it’s a completely shut door.
In my newly evolved opinion, becoming a proponent of vegetarianism only because you think killing other animals for food is cruel is slightly misguided. I think everyone should rally for better, more human conditions and treatment of animals and less waste, but they are not 100% mutually exclusive.
14. Meat looks barbaric and dirty and just gross if you haven’t eaten it in a while. It’s as much portion and digestion as anything. I look at a 6 or 8 oz. piece of steak now and can’t believe that looked tiny to me in the past. That solid piece of flesh has to sit in my stomach until it’s broken down and digested naturally. So when I gorged myself on a 20 oz. steak or a huge cheeseburger or whatever, I realize how long that food was just stuck in my gut, half digested.
15. My month of being a vegetarian is up and I’ve moved on from India to beautiful, wild Sri Lanka. I wanted to try transition easily back to trying a little bit of meat, so I ordered rice, salad, and barbecue chicken last night. The chicken seemed sort of…odd to me. There was so little meat and so much bones, carcass, and membrane to pick around. I did eat a few pieces and it didn’t taste too bad, just like the sauce and the rice that was with it. I fed the rest to the dog who was begging by putting his head on my leg.
Going forward, will I be a devout vegetarian? No, I doubt it. (And I don’t think I’d ever give up some fish or seafood!) But I certainly do think this month of eating only plants has given me a new appreciation and even consciousness of what’s on my plate. I definitely have enjoyed the health benefits, and will adapt my new diet so that I maximize those, while sill enjoying a good quality cut of meat every once and a while.
When I do decide to eat higher on the food chain, it will be a choice – not a default – and will come with the reverence that I am accountable for extinguishing some living thing’s spirit because of what I’ consuming. I will endeavor to stop indulging, wasting, and eating mindlessly. My feet will tread lighter and my grasp on all living things will be a little more gentle. I’ll try to educate myself about how to eat healthier and more humanely, reducing my negative impact on this earth and honoring what I use.