I Think I’m Going Vegetarian (this week anyway)

I can still remember my first attempt at becoming a vegetarian.  I was about 13 years old and it was on a day trip I was on with my family on Easter Sunday. We had stopped in at a restaurant that had a buffet and for whatever reason, I decided I wasn’t going to get any meat.  Now, I grew up in a very traditional meat and potatoes family; every dinner had meat, period.  The fact that I had done this did not go unnoticed by my parents or my sister.  I announced that I was going vegetarian, and I clearly remember the raised eyebrows and the looks of “yeah, okay, whatever you say Trisha.” That attempt lasted around six hours, until our next meal.  Not very successful, but it was the start of my lifelong journey of “going vegetarian.”

After that, it was a while before I tried the veggie route again.  The next time was due to necessity, not because I was taking up the cause; frankly, I was broke and just couldn’t afford to buy meat. Unfortunately, it also meant a few years of subsisting on side dishes.  Yep, that’s right, I managed to live for about three years on primarily sides which, if you think about it, is not a good diet to stick with. To be honest, I was just trying to survive the best way I could without asking for a hand out (yes, I was that broke!).  Mashed potatoes and gravy anyone?  How about a big bowl of rice?  No, that doesn’t do it for you? How does a bowl of macaroni and cheese sound?  No wonder I gained so much weight, every meal was a carb fest!  I didn’t admit to myself that what I was doing was unhealthy, however, I knew that I wasn’t loving the way I looked or felt.  So, as you can see, although it was meatless, it certainly wasn’t anywhere near healthy which most people assume the vegetarian diet to be.

Once I changed jobs and started making more money, I began to eat fruits and vegetables (which had been sorely lacking the previous three years) and meat – actual meals, imagine!  That, combined with exercise, helped me to lose the weight that I had gained, so much so that by the time my father saw me at Christmas, he noticed a huge difference.  In fact, his reaction was so dramatic I still do the “remember when…” about it.  He walked into my apartment, took one look at me and with his eyes like saucers said, “Wow, you lost a couple of tons!!” – I am not kidding or exaggerating.  I have a pretty thick skin so it only stung for a couple of seconds, and then I moved on because really, he was right.

Over the years, I’ve see-sawed between being a carnivore and a herbivore.  Today, I eat what I want -if it’s tofu, great, if it’s a piece of chicken or a hamburger, fine.  I have read quite a bit about vegetarianism and the drawbacks of the diet.  I have to say that if I go too long without meat, my body doesn’t function as well as it should; I’m moody and sluggish.  I know that there are people out there, die-hard vegetarians, who will say that if you have a properly balanced diet and eat exactly what you need to, you will have no problems; I have yet to come up with that balance.  Instead, I have weeks where I don’t consume meat of any kind in order to bring a bit of balance to my diet – what could possibly be wrong with eating more fruits, vegetables and beans?  I just finished up a good few weeks wherein meat did not play out in any of my meals.  I felt good, but again, I knew that if I kept it up for too long, those benefits would disappear, and that is just not okay with me.  In the meantime, I’m happy with the way things are and with being a part-time vegetarian. Isn’t that all that really matters, what we’re all looking for – to be happy?

T

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