I Went Vegetarian for 6 Months… Here’s What I Learned

This quarantine I wanted to try something new and unexpected. I stepped out of my comfort zone. I put down the cheeseburgers and hot dogs, canceled the seafood boils and barbeques…  and went vegetarian! This experiment turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made. After six months of being vegetarian, I became more cautious about what I put into my body. 

Why: 

The benefits of a vegetarian diet lead me to convert my eating habits. I originally got the idea of switching my diet after completing an environmental science class. I learned the negative effects that the meat industry has on our environment. Research has found that the meat industry has been linked to the contribution of greenhouse gases, such as nitrogen and carbon. The key to reducing the amount of harmful emissions is not funding companies that damage the environment. Eating less meat has a direct effect on lessening one’s carbon footprint. African Americans are at a higher risk to suffer from heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. According to the American Heart Association, “The prevalence of high blood pressure in African Americans in the United States is among the highest in the world.”  I was determined to take my health into my own hands by transitioning to a plant-based diet. 

Effects:

After two weeks of being completely meat-free, I felt lighter after meals. I had more energy to complete school work and overall a happier person. Along with eliminating meat, I increased my water intake. I also saw a difference with my skin. I had fewer breakouts and glowing skin. The increase in iron helped subside my cold hands and feet. However, there were no changes to my weight or body type. 

Eating Routine:

I’ve been a meat-eater all my life. Being from the south I was accustomed to having large portions of meat-based meals. The main dish served was usually chicken, fish, beef, or pork. Most restaurants and fast food places do not carry plant-based entrees. At the beginning of my journey, I had no clue what to eat. Early on most of my diet consisted of grains, fruits and vegetables. I found myself hungry all the time and craving meat. I resorted to eating salty snacks to subdue my cravings. I quickly learned that just because something is vegetarian, does not mean it is healthy for the body.

After doing research, watching YouTube videos, and reaching out to friends, I found my style. I started by making simple changes in what I eat. I replaced dairy milk with almond milk, pepperoni pizza with veggie pizza and white rice with brown rice. There is no need to break the bank when grocery shopping. Typically shopping for groceries, I shop at Whole Foods, Harris Teeter or The Fresh Market. My protein came from superfoods like quinoa, nuts, beans, tofu, pasta and greek yogurt. I highly recommend the brand Gardein for meat substitutes. The brand has delicious meals such as orange chick’n, sweet and sour porkless bites and teriyaki chick’n strips. Being vegetarian has introduced me to new foods that I would never choose to eat with my old diet. 

Overall, my vegetarian experience has been positively eye-opening. I will continue my journey of being a vegetarian. I would definitely recommend this lifestyle to anyone who is thinking about going vegetarian or vegan. If you are considering eliminating meat from your diet, I would suggest doing more research to determine what foods are best for your lifestyle. Not only is the change of diet healthy for the body, but also healthy for the environment.