In my recent attempts to become a vegetarian (yes, 7 consecutive days of absolutely no meat for someone who used to eat meat for breakfast, lunch and dinner is a BIG DEAL! That’s like 18 meals AND I turned down a FREE turkey sandwich earlier, plus BEEF (National Cattlman Beef Association) is one of my clients, so it’s going to be a challenge for sure! I will have to tease myself with all the meat recipes for a while (until the cravings vanish), but I have faith in myself and I smell (pun intended) success!) I’ve learned some interesting things that I wanted to share with the world. First and foremost, I want to dedicate this post to four people who have inspired me (Jory Hoffman, the most dedicated vegan, who planted this seed of thought in me originally, then there is Olga Bernfield, my favorite source for anything related to food and nutrition. Just by looking at Olga’s body, I want to become vegetarian, but beyond that, it’s about FEELING great and cleansing out your system from all the toxins that the industrial meat industry has become. Ilya Tsorin, who was the last push for this bold move on my part, to test out the newly acquired boundaries. Last but not least, the author of Food Rules and the Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan. I think he did a wonderful job explaining very basics of America’s industrial food industry and the reason America, in the most derogatory term, is … FAT!
So, as I explore this new world of pesco-vegetarianism also known as Pescetarianism(meaning I’m still planning on eating eggs, dairy and fish, because I need my Omega-3s plus I LOVE Ahi Tuna ), I will share my experience as I go. We’ll see how I do! NOTE: Am I gonna be obsessed with being a strict semi-vegetarian (that's an oxymoron as it is), of course not but I will be sure to get the vegetarian option when possible. HOWEVER, let's not be ridiculous and say that if I'm stranded on an island called BEEF (aka Russian restaurant or grandma's house), I will still honor my commitment to vegetarianism.
So here is my top PROs (and CONs) list of why I decided to make the change:
- $$$ – It’s cheaper to be vegetarian, because meat typically costs more
- Soy – You get to eat soy products such as tofu and tempeh, are used to provide isoflavins, such as genistein and daidzein, which help to diminish bone loss, inhibit tumor growth and lower cholesterol
- Cancer – By following a plant based diet, we limit our chances of cancer, according to the World Cancer Research Fund.
- <3 – Vegetarians have lower rates of heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and cholesterol levels – According to The American Dietetic Association
- Weight – Vegetarians have lower body mass index and nine times less likely to be obese. You feel lighter! No more feeling of bloating and stuffiness from the 16oz steak you HAD to devour
- Chemical-free – By eating meat, we retain the chemicals, hormones and antibiotics that are fed to cattle to accelerate growth and cause weight gain. For example, the E.Coli strain associated with raw beef
- Live longer – Vegetarians and vegans live, on average, six to 10 years longer than meat-eaters.
- The environment – You get to feel good about saving the environment. Animal productionconsumes an amount of water roughly equivalent to all other uses of water in the United States combined. Also, The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has estimated that direct emissions from meat production account for about 18% of the world's total greenhouse gas emissions
- Save animals – Many people do not morally approve of killing animals, or object to the ways in which animals are kept, treated and killed for food.
- Lack of minerals and vitamins if people don't eat a wide variety of foods (i.e. Vitamin B12 is found in meats and not in a vegetarian diet, however depends on the type of vegetarian you are, you can obtain B12 from dairy products and eggs) NOTE: see a list of foods you SHOULD definitely include to your diet in order to have an adequate intake of the essential amino acids
- Personally, I feel hungry more often (but maybe it’s just because I’m a beginner and my system is used to the feeling of meat proteins, however I’m looking forward to this feeling disappearing soon and the long-term benefits J)
8 types of essential amino acids:
- Lupin, soy, hempseed, chia seed, amaranth, buckwheat, and quinoa.
Other plant-based food that are necessary:
- Food rich in iron include black beans, cashews, hempseed, kidney beans, lentils, oatmeal, raisins, black-eyed peas, soybeans, many breakfast cereals, sunflower seeds, chickpeas, tomato juice, tempeh, molasses, thyme, and whole-wheat bread
- Food rich in Vitamin D: milk, soy milk, cereal grains and mushrooms. Also, make sure you expose yourself to the sun
Whatever your reason is for giving up meat, whether it’s a selfish one like feeling and looking healthy, animal welfare, religious, environmental concerns, weight loss etc., do your research, so you do not end up without the essential minerals and vitamins that the vegetarian diet is usually criticized for.