Happy Valentine's Day everyone! While most of you are spending this day celebrating the many loves in your life (and I am too, though Scott is away on business), I am also celebrating this day as the one year anniversary of the day I became a vegetarian.
Strangely enough, though I am the only vegetarian in my household, it was not my idea to embark upon this journey. On Valentine's Day last year, Scott had planned to prepare some delicious meals for us -- sausage, eggs and pancakes for breakfast and followed by grilled steak for dinner. We had both been more conscious of our eating habits at that point, eating organic foods and free range chicken and beef, but during our breakfast that morning, Scott put his fork down and said, "I am suddenly disgusted by the idea of eating animal flesh." And so our vegetarian journey began.
He stuck with it for awhile but slowly began adding meat back to his diet. I never felt the desire to. I had been a vegetarian (and even a vegan) during my late teens and early twenties and had contemplated going back to a vegetarian lifestyle, but had never been motivated to do so. But on that day, armed with my new knowledge of nutrition and faced with the expense of buying only free range meats, becoming a vegetarian seemed totally natural. Honestly, I have never looked back, craved meat, or regretted the choice.
That's not to say that being the only vegetarian in a non-vegetarian household hasn't been without challenges. It means some nights I prepare two different meals. It means more dirty dishes when I make spaghetti and meatballs, since I either make veggie meatballs or just have plain sauce. For the longest time, I've been supplementing my diet with soy products, but as I've moved toward reducing the amount of soy I eat as well as the amount of processed foods, I've had to search for alternative sources of protein. (Beans, eggs, dairy, and cheese are all great if you are a lacto-ovo vegetarian.)
In terms of weight loss...you'd think a vegetarian diet would make it easier to lose weight, right? It seems logical, if you're cutting out fatty meats you should be able to easily drop the pounds. Let me tell you though, it's very easy to be a vegetarian who doesn't eat vegetables. While fruits and vegetables are acceptable vegetarian foods, other meat-free items include: cookies, cake, doughnuts, ice cream, chocolate...you get the idea. While those foods are all fine in moderation, eaten in excess, they can prevent you from losing weight. I'm a good example of this. This time last year I was in the low 260s. Today I'm in the low 250s. I got down to the 240s the middle of last year and gained some back because I started to let things slide.
As of today, I'm working hard to cut back on those unhealthy "vegetarian" foods, eat fewer soy products, and eat more fruits and vegetables. Today my lunch is a very delicious salad made of vegetables from our local farmer's market...organic romaine, organic carrots, organic broccoli, organic cucumber, roma tomato and mushrooms...with a dash of oil and vinegar and an ounce of cheese (for the protein). (Want to save a ton of money on produce? Farmer's markets are GREAT.)
I also quit the Couch to 5k program in week 7 last year. I'm proud to say that I'll be starting that again on Saturday! Doing that, combined with eating better vegetarian foods...maybe next year I'll be a much healthier vegetarian!
As with anything like this, if you're wanting to make a major diet or lifestyle change, it's best to consult with your physician. ...but if you have questions about vegetarianism, feel free to comment and I'll try to answer as many as I can. I'm not a nutritionist or any kind of expert, but I can comment from my own experience.