Happy Anniversary! Happy Anniversary! Haapy Anniversary
Today marks 6 months since I’ve stopped eating meat and became a vegetarian. I can honestly say I have no regrets and don’t see myself turning back into a meat eater anytime soon.
How It All Started
Looking back on it, this particular decision has been in the making since at least 2011 or 2012. I was diagnosed with PCOS or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and I was researching diets/lifestyles to lose weight. In the midst of looking on Pinterest and youtube, I found the vegan side of youtube.
Now, at first, I was super iffy on if this was an actual healthy lifestyle because we all know everyone has been on this low carb, low sugar, diet, etc for weight loss and healthy living.
Because of that, I mostly just watched the videos or read the articles, while still eating animal products, but the lifestyle really intrigued me, which is why I still followed them.
My GYN doctor had told me when I was first diagnosed with PCOS that I should eat low carb because I was insulin resistant and a huge amount of carbs causes my insulin to rise etc, etc. She also put me on birth control to help regulate my periods and metformin.
So, I started taking the medication and looking into low carb diets, such as South Beach and Atkins, but I was extremely overwhelmed because I’m not only a picky eater, but I was confused on what exactly low carb meant.
I was using my fitness pal app to try and track calories as well as my carb intake, but it was just really difficult and time-consuming. So, to make my life a little bit easier, I stopped worrying about calories and carbs, etc, and just started focusing on incorporating more fruits and vegetables as well as other healthy foods into my diet.
Oh, and exercising a bit more too!
When I first got diagnosed I was the heaviest I’d ever been, over 200 pounds, and now I’ve stayed stagnant at around 180. I’ll lose a few pounds here or there, but then gain them back, or gain a few more pounds and then lose them. The last few years, I’ve always been about 180 pounds at my GYN annual appointment.
Why I failed in the past
About a year or two ago, I watched the documentary Forks Over Knives, Engine 2 Kitchen Rescue, and others about “vegan” diets on Netflix. What really got me watching these were not only the vegan youtubers I was following at the time, but also my father had some scary heart situations, so of course I’m trying to find all options to help him out as well.
So, even though I’ve been following Vegan youtubers for years, watched health documentaries multiple times over the last few years, why did it take me until now before I finally cut meat out of my diet?
Well, the answer is simply I was overwhelmed.
I tried multiple times going cold turkey. I planned on going straight from eating meat, dairy, and eggs to not eating them completely and that only lasted maybe a few days. Then I’ve tried just simply taking out dairy, while still eating meat, and that lasted maybe a week. I’ve even tried not eating red meat, only chicken, and that got super boring after a while.
I was trying to change something overnight and trying all these new recipes with things I didn’t like or never had and then got disappointed when I didn’t like it. Which would then cause me to turn to the foods I no longer wanted to eat.
Therefore, I’ve tried a lot over the last few years to take animal products out of my diet, but they weren’t successful.
How was I able to succeed now
Until March 6, 2018, when I had my first full meatless day and kept having meatless days since. There was something at that time where it clicked and I just set the goal. I told myself, I’d start off taking meat out of my diet and then eventually I’d take everything else out.
Even though it’s only been six months, I’ve still learned a lot and have noticed/discovered things I never really thought about before.
Here are a few of the things I’ve figured out along the way.
I don’t miss meat… like at all.
When I first thought about no longer eating meat a while ago, I was wondering if I’d ever miss eating meat or if my family was eating meat around me and I’d start to crave and give in… However, I’ve not experienced that at all. My family still eats meat around me, I still go with them to BBQ restaurants, I don’t ask them for a piece of bacon during breakfast, etc.
To be quite honest, the only thing I really miss about eating meat was just the convenience of going out to eat or to the grocery store and trying to find the only thing on the menu that doesn’t have meat.
Which brings me to…
Eating out at restaurants can be a challenge
Living in the south almost every restaurant throws meat on every meal they offer, which is super annoying. Luckily since I’m not focusing on not eating dairy right now, almost every place I go, I’m able to find something to eat. It just may not be enough to make a meal. The biggest issues on finding vegetarian meals are fast food places, but I really need to cut back on eating that anyway, so not a huge deal.
Here are some places I’ve dined at during these last six months and some of the foods I’ve ordered.
Baked Potato (Butter/Sour Cream)
Side Order of Broccoli (Seriously best restaurant broccoli)
Potato Soup *WITHOUT BACON
Sweet Potato Fries
Mexican Restaurants –
Cheese and Onion Enchilada
Pretty much anything with beans, cheese, and/or Rice.
Barbecue Restaurants –
Baked Potato *WITHOUT MEAT/BACON
House Salad *WITHOUT BACON
Cracker Barrel –
Vegetable Plate of my favorite veggies.
Italian Restaurants –
Pasta with Broccoli or other veggies with non-meat sauce
Veggie or Cheese Pizza
I’ve incorporated more foods into my diet.
Before eating this way, I hated beans. Whenever I ate chili, I’d want it with No beans. I’d never eat the beans at Mexican restaurants. Basically, if it had beans in it, I would refuse to eat it. But now, beans have become one of my favorite things to eat.
However, it is annoying having to make sure certain brands of canned beans like baked beans and refried beans aren’t made with meat or lard.
My parents feel like they have to tell everyone about me being a vegetarian like it’s this astronomical deal.
Anytime I’m out to eat with my parents and/or family, they always have to point out that I don’t eat meat. It does getting annoying and bothers me at times, but I’m starting to just ignore it.
Here are some tips on what has helped me over the last 6 months.
Meat Substitutes/Fake Meat
I’ve only tried a few brands and types of these because they are on the pricey side. However, they are good alternatives for when you’re first starting out or just want to mix things up a bit.
When it comes to ground beef substitutes, I’ve enjoyed Gardein’s beefless Ground. It’s super quick to cook up. It takes the flavor of whatever you’re mixing it with, like seasonings or sauces. I’ve used it in two different ways so far and it was to make a Shepherd’s Pie and tacos.
Boca is another great brand for meat alternatives. I love their burgers, (All-American and Vegan Veggie Burgers). Having them in the freezer helps for a quick meal.
Plus, it helps to have them for if my family is having burgers or got some burgers from a fast food place. I can just throw a patty in the microwave and enjoy it with them.
I’ve also tried Boca’s ch’ckn Patties and they tasted just like Tyson Chicken Patties. However, they’re not something I buy all the time.
Make a list of all the things you already eat that isn’t meat.
Mine was Potatoes, Rice, Pasta, Bread, Chips, Salsa, Salad, just to name a few.
Start with what you know and then branch out.
Make a list of your favorite recipes and either add a meat alternative in place OR add vegetables OR both…
For example, I used to love Chicken Alfredo, but now, instead of using chicken, I add in broccoli and spinach. I still use the same pasta and alfredo sauce, so it’s like the same meal, just without the chicken.
Or when I make chili, instead of using ground beef, I might use a beefless ground or just add in more beans or maybe a sweet potato.
Pinterest, Youtube, Amazon, Library, Etc are your friends.
Eventually, you’re going to want to try new recipes.
Start with the internet and your library first as easy and cheap ways to find new recipes.
Amazon is a great place to find all sorts of cookbooks that fit with this lifestyle. Currently, I’ve purchased, The Starch Solution and The Healthiest Diet on the Planet by Dr. McDougall, The Engine 2 Cookbook by Rip and Jane Esselstyn, and Forks Over Knives The Cookbook by Del Sroufe.
*Not only do they have great recipes, but they also help explain why this way of eating is healthier for you.
Youtube is great for finding others who have their own tips and tricks on this lifestyle. Oh, and they’re great for motivation!
(Soon I’ll be making a post about all of the youtubers I watch, so I link that here when it comes!)
Okay, so now, you’re probably wondering about how I actually feel and if I’ve lost any weight.
First of all, I feel really good.
My acne has gotten better
not as tired or sluggish. I mean I still have those days where I just want to sleep all day.
I workout more.
My digestion is better.
I have a little more motivation in me.
I can tell by the way my clothes fit that I’ve lost some inches, I’m not entirely sure how much.
When I last weighed myself, I was down five pounds from the beginning of this year.
But also keep in mind, that I’m not eating 100% healthy.
I still eat a bit of processed food like chips on occasion.
Fast food is still an occasional meal.
There are days I don’t workout because I’m busy or tired.
So, I wasn’t expecting this huge dramatic weight loss, especially since losing weight while having PCOS is hard enough.
If you have any tips or would like to share your own experiences, leave a comment below!
I’d love to read them!
Have a great day and see you next Monday!
Featured image via pixabay