Well, I finally decided to take the plunge. For several years now, I have been toying around with this idea, but never could seem to commit to anything. But I finally decided it's time. I am now officially going vegetarian! YAY for me!!
So why in the world would I do this? I have several reasons. But the one most prevalent is my stomach. I guess for about the last 3-4 years I have just had one stomach problem after another. My belly constantly HURT! I did TONS of research, and I realized that meat and dairy products are some of the most problem causing foods. One of the reasons meat can give you so much trouble is the simple fact that it doesn't digest well in your stomach. It just sits there for days before it passes out of you. Which means for me, it was sitting there causing my stomach to hurt for days. And every time I would eat more meat, it just compounded the problem. The thing, for me at least, about dairy is the protein that is found in cows milk. There is just an amazing number of people who have a milk protein allergy, and I happen to be one of them. Every time I would eat a bowl of cereal or chow down on some delicious dutch chocolate ice cream, the protein in the dairy would just make my tummy SCREAM! Once I gave up eating red meat and dairy products, my tummy was feeling much better - but not completely. About 2 months ago I decided to try going without any chicken to see if the complete absence of meat would make a difference, instead of just doing without the red meat. Now, my tummy is even BETTER!! (Oh and just so you know, pork is just as bad, only I don't eat it anyway because it tastes like DIRT to me. Probably because the little porkers live in it all the time!)
So here I am. No meat and no dairy, and I feel worlds better!! In truth, I am working towards a complete vegan diet, but as of right now, I'm not there yet. There are 2 main things keeping me from saying I am a vegan. The first is the fact that I still eat eggs. I get my eggs from my daddy, who happens to treat his hens like royalty. So I know these gals aren't being mistreated just so I can have an egg from them. And the second thing is that I am not giving up honey. I happen to be very good friends with my bee keeper (she and I have been friends since high school), and I know for a fact that she takes really great care of her hives. So I know eating her honey is perfectly great for me. Not to mention the fact that I LOVE the stuff, and it is quite medicinal, so I don't plan to stop with it. Those are 2 things that vegans don't consume, so I guess I'll just have to say I'm sticking with being a vegetarian. Oh and I also occasionally still sprinkle some cheese on my food. Vegan cheese is expensive, so I just don't use it often. But occasionally I just really want some cheese on top of my baked potato or soup!
And what am I supposed to eat?? Oh my goodness, there is a world of great food out there! When you eat mainly a meat centered diet, you seem to limit the "extra" foods you are willing to try. You just pull into the first fast food restaurant you come to and order the same thing - burger and fries - and you think that's all there is. Well let me tell you, there is so much more to life and eating than burgers and fries!
One of my favorite websites is Vegetarian Times. If you spend only a few minutes perusing their site, you will find a plethora of yumminess that you just must try! Even the most die hard meat eater will want to sample some of the dishes, if only as a side dish. Believe me, I didn't start out with eating like this completely. Everything I tried was considered a side dish, because I felt like, if it bombed, at least we had our other food to eat. But now I find myself making more and more great veggie dishes, and they are now my main course. And oh the variety!
A book that I read recently was The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone. That is one AMAZING book, and I HIGHLY recommend it to anyone thinking of a change in lifestyle where your diet is concerned, or if you're just curious about why anyone would choose to live a veggie lifestyle. You can also check out her website - The Kind Life - for more recipes, info, and anything else you may be wondering.
Also, vegetarian items are showing up more and more in grocery stores everywhere! I can get vegetarian meat from Morningstar Farms that is just fantastic! They have the greatest veggie burgers that are so full of flavors and variety. Meat pretty much has one flavor, but not these tasty veggie burgers! I buy Rice Dream rice milk and Almond Breeze almond milk to drink, both of which are at my local Wal-Mart. Both of these companies sell some of the greatest dairy free ice cream, too!! YAY for ice cream!
So I say all that to say, I am really excited about my new vegetarian diet! It's still a work in progress. The rest of my family is not going this route with me, and that's OK. I still cook plenty of meat for them. So all of you meat eaters out there, don't worry! You don't need to invite my husband and kids over for supper. I'm still feeding them! But I will say that veggies are becoming the bigger part of our meals, and meat is taking a back seat for everybody. And as long as I keep cooking really tasty foods, no one is complaining!
One more change I am heading toward but haven't reached as of yet is a gluten free diet. Even after cutting so much from my diet, I still find I have stomach aches often. Even though my tummy feels worlds different from when I ate meat and dairy, it still isn't enough. I have too much to do in this life to be held back because of feeling lousy. So I am leaning towards going gluten free. But for right now, I'm sticking with the newest changes I have made and just getting used to them for awhile. It's a process. Good health and changing a lifestyle of bad habits doesn't happen overnight. It takes time. This change has taken a long time. But here I am now, and I am feeling all the better for it!
Have you made any lifestyle changes where your eating is concerned? Have a great vegetarian or gluten free recipe you want to share to help me out here? Leave me a comment and tell me all about it!