If you’re a regular reader of my site, you see that I eat a lot of meat: chicken, turkey, bacon, turkey burgers, and even STEAK! But what you may not know is that I was a vegetarian for about 12 years.
Yep–it’s true. I went from being a vegetarian to a full-fledged meat eater.
Why? In short, I started working out and running. There were a lot of reasons I didn’t eat meat. But I found I wanted to suddenly. Running was the culprit for my sudden craving for steak. I went from never eating meat to drooling over a thick, juicy steak–medium rare at that!
What the heck?
In short, I sucked at being a vegetarian. I think it was part of the equation that became my weight gain.
Poor Eating Habits + Bad Vegetarianism + Junk Food Obsessions + No Exercise = Obesity. At least for me.
This post is not to discourage anyone from being a vegetarian and I am not trying to down play the benefits of vegetarianism. I’m just speaking of my own experience.
The biggest reason I sucked at being a vegetarian is:
I did not substitute my lack of protein with another kind of protein. I just didn’t eat protein. Stupid–I know. But I didn’t know anything different. I ate a lot of processed food. A typical dinner could very easily be a box of “Pasta Helper” of some sort and a salad (I was a vegetarian after all!). That’s not exactly a healthy meal–even with some veggies on the plate.
I would eat those MorningStar packaged foods which were protein but still not healthy.
I was always tired. I don’t attribute this entirely to not eating meat because I had a lot of other health problems as an obese woman. But I know now that not eating meat played a big part in it. I was always tired. I was also very anemic. I had to take iron supplements just to get some energy.
There are a lot of positives for being a vegetarian–IF you do it right. I did not. My cholesterol was skyrocketing even being a vegetarian.
I did not learn the proper nutrition requirements my body needed if I stopped eating meat. I just stopped eating meat.
A common misconception is that vegetarians are skinny–or that they will lose weight immediately for not eating meat. That did not happen to me. In fact, my weight increased enormously.
One of the things you can eat to add protein to your diet is nuts. Guess what? Nuts are super fattening. While a serving of almonds may be packed with tons of protein (6 grams) they are also really high in calories and fat.
Eating out was a challenge. I didn’t want to eat meat but didn’t really know how to order a vegetarian meal. I just assumed being a vegetarian was ordering a salad. Then I’d also order some fried food (mozzarella sticks for example) to go with it. Eating out was a challenge depending on what kind of restaurant I went to. I think I’d have better luck NOW as a vegetarian because Portland has a huge Vegetarian/Vegan community here. The Vegan restaurant options are pretty vast.
A Strange Happening
I’ve had to take a break from running. 6-8 weeks probably. I’ve noticed not running has changed my hunger in a few ways. First, I’m not as hungry as I used to be. Second, I don’t crave steak like I used to. Or any meat actually. I eat it for the protein but I don’t CRAVE it like I did when I was running. I’m curious to see if that changes when I can run again.
QUESTION: If you are a vegetarian, do you do it “right”? How do you get your protein?