Never thought I would utter the words “giving up meat” and “for religious reasons” separately let alone together in the same sentence.
Yes, I did give up meat for a bit, for the majority of the Lent this year.
Nearly made it all the way to the end, roughly 40 days, but I had a lunch date with some co-workers and made the decision that it was better to break the meat fast instead of being “that guy” that was only picking at sides at an awesome BBQ joint.
If you’ve ever been to lunch with somebody that’s currently on a fast or engaging in some other diet fad, you know what I’m talking about.
The motivation? Technically not because of the religious season, was more to help us get out of the box a bit and break up the monotony of our usual culinary fare. We took on this challenge as a family, and even though it wasn’t a competition, I did win ;)
Would I do it again? Probably not, but based on my personal observations, there’s a solid chance that I’m going to eat vegetarian a bit more regularly. May even go as far as sticking to vegetarian breakfast and lunch most days.
So these observations, I’m breaking things down into pros and cons. Again, these are my personal observations, things I noticed about myself and my family.
Going to start with the cons first.
Right out of the gate on the first few days on this experiment, I found myself eating a fuck ton of junk food. Generally speaking, I don’t put a ton of garbage into my system, but with a newly limited list of menu items, I was grabbing potato chips and other trash.
This subsided after a few days when I started to get some healthier snacks into the house. This observation gave me a ton of understanding as to how people can be vegetarians but also over weight. All about making the right choices, regardless of what your dietary restrictions may be.
Something that I didn’t experience but the kiddo did, and then the wife, were bad headaches a few weeks into the process. Again, it didn’t seem to affect me, but I’m pretty sure there’s an inside joke about how I’ve been irritable and needed a steak, or something like that.
As the time went on, I noticed that somewhere in the process I had stopped eating breakfast entirely. My omnivore breakfast go to is turkey sausage and sauerkraut. A while back that’d include an egg or two as well, but really haven’t been in an egg mood.
While not too terrible that I stopped eating breakfast, I think the lack of that extra meal may have had other adverse effects I had noticed, while perhaps not being directly correlated to my abandonment of meat.
With that, the biggest downside to this experience that I had noticed was that I felt like I was losing strength during my daily workouts. My workouts aren’t terribly intense, but I was finding myself struggling more and more as time went on.
I had noticed a bit of weight loss during this time, about 3 pounds, which I suspect was muscle loss from the lack of meat, skipping breakfast, or a combination of the two.
Along with the weight loss, I did notice that my finger nails seemed to be a bit more brittle than usual. I’m still an occasional nail biter, less stress related and more out of the laziness of walking to the other room to take care of a problem nail.
Okay, that was the bad, outside of the perceived muscle loss, there were no major negative side effects that were noticeable.
I gotta tell ya, while not immediately apparent, the bowel movements from going vegetarian were absolutely fucking phenomenal. Took a bit of getting used to, because the flatulence level did go up a bit. Once settled in, things were like clock work. Big fan of that.
The higher flatulence could be considered a con, but I’m not from the school of thought that farting is a bad thing.
Weight loss. I mentioned it as a con, because I am thinking I was losing muscle more than fat. The fact remains that I did actually lose about 3 pounds over the course of 40 days of being a vegetarian.
One of my favorite observances, other than the amazing bowel movements, was how rare I felt sluggish and tired through the day. It was immediately apparent the moment I started to bring meat back into my diet, that I do feel tired after a meal from time to time.
Also worth noting, that after reintroducing meat into my diet, slowly over the course of a week, I did start to experience some constipation. Coincidence, perhaps, but suspect it’s related.
Dropping meat from our diet served it’s purpose pretty well as we did get out of our box quite a bit and have some new favorite recipes. Since that was the whole point of the experiment, it’s nice that it actually worked out that way.
Lightlife’s Smart Ground quickly became a crowd favorite. I used it in my favorite hot lunch and the wife made a pretty solid “meat” loaf out of it.
Using it in tacos ended up being such a hit that we’re going to be including it in our normal rotation moving forward.