Around last October, I decided to stop eating meat. It was not a momentary decision but rather a gradual transition. It has been more than a half of a year already that I am doing this. Did I see any changes in my health and do I feel better? Here comes my personal experience.
Before I go in: I know that food is a sensitive topic for many people so you should remember that what you are reading below is an account of the personal experience and in case you are considering changes to your diet, you should ALWAYS consult a certified professional.
How it all started?
Stopping eating meat was not a hard decision for me. I grew up on a small farm with my grandparents who only grew vegetable produce so most of my meals came from their garden – veggies, fruits, some eggs and cheese. Some days we did have meat, maybe twice or once a week. I know for some people it is hard to imagine not having meat every day but it was not so for me – I think this early experience of having very versatile diet made it easy for me to adjust to a vegetarian diet later in my adult years. I also just generally do not love meat that much: some things taste great but I could never bring myself to enjoy a big piece of steak.
With all that said, I also became more aware of the effects of consuming meat on environment: beef production is one of the biggest factors in the global warming rise.
Last but not least, I really believe that the key to find what works best for you is to experiment. I have always been eating my whole life in one way, so how could I know what other ways of nourishing myself would bring me? All together combined, I have decided to try a meatless lifestyle (for disclaimer, I did keep seafood in my diet).
What did my experiment give me?
One of the things that I really appreciated is that it set me on the food exploration journey: I learned about things I never ate before like tempeh, or nutritional yeast, or tahini and found so many wonderful vegetarian and vegan recipes. I feel like the experiment incredibly diversified my nutrition and that part felt great.
I almost never feel afternoon slump these days (if you are not sure what afternoon slump is – in short, it is a feeling like you want to nap after your lunch), For someone who does not drink coffee, this is a big thing! I do not feel like for an hour after lunch, I can do absolutely nothing. I also generally feel like I have more energy.
Mentally, I think this experiment defied for me the concept that meat has to be present at every meal – it does not have to be on the table to make a dinner or lunch delicious. There are so many exciting things and options you can find if you look around.
In terms of my surrounding, I realized how little options are there available in Canada for vegetarians and vegans in the mainstream restaurants unless you go to a specifically vegetarian restaurant. I could usually find something in the menu for myself but often, it was limited to one option. Which I think it does not have to be – I think here, the diversity is the key and a lot of Canadian restaurants still have a long way to go.
Another important thing to mention is that meal preparation is the key but I think it goes pretty much with any diet. If I prepared and planned out the week in advance, I felt less panicked during the week and ready to enjoy delicious vegetarian meals and stick to my diet.
I like this new way of eating – I feel good so far both physically and mentally. But to be honest, this experiment convinced me even more of the notion that diversity is a key when it comes to what you eat. Historically, we as humans, were hunter-gatherers which meant that we ate what we could find, hunt or catch. This made a very diverse diet for us, and this is where I feel like my experiment is bringing me. When I visit someone and they offer me a meat dish, I am totally fine with eating it. I am also okay with eating some turkey or chicken once a month or so. I feel like this nutritional diversity and open-mindedness have been the key for me.