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Three years ago, I decided to become a vegetarian. Unlike most vegetarians, I did not decide to stop eating meat because I love animals and could not bear eating them. It was a combination of having to guess what the mystery meat in the cafeteria was and my roommate convincing me that I should give it a try.

The first month was a STRUGGLE. I remember sitting in my dorm, and I could smell somebody frying chicken, and just the sound of the chicken hitting that grease and the smell of that seasoned skin had me ready to throw in the towel. 

Eventually, it got a lot easier and the amount of time I have committed to being a vegetarian has kept me from not risking it all for some mediocre Wingstop wings. 

After three years of being a full-time vegetarian and a part-time vegan (someone who does not consume any products made from animals), I noticed that I am still overweight. Yes, y’all read it right, I am an OVERWEIGHT VEGETARIAN.

First, let me say that just because you are a vegetarian does not mean you are super healthy or that your diet is better than an omnivore’s diet. While I did cut out fatty meats that made me feel sluggish and bloated, I did not consider other foods that I consume that are not the best for me.

French fries, pasta, bread, cakes, cookies, and ice cream are all products that do not contain meat, so they are all products a vegetarian can eat. I noticed that to make up for the meat I was not eating, a lot of times I would consume more starches and sweets. Overconsumption of any food is unhealthy, so just replacing my meats with more starches was just as bad. 

I also noticed that I began to consume a lot of processed foods just out of convenience. Although I am eating meatless processed foods, most of them are still pretty unhealthy. Processed foods contain large amounts of sodium and sugars, which is not any better.

Lastly, the vegetarian/vegan lifestyle calls for more cooking and creativity. My meals have gotten very repetitive since I switched to a meatless lifestyle. After getting up for work before the sun is up then attending classes for the rest of the day, I usually do not feel like cooking. My lack of energy to try new recipes led me to eat the same things all the time. 

Frozen veggie burgers, frozen veggie sausages, and eggs (when I’m not dabbling in veganism) are my go-tos. All of these are fine in moderation but consuming them on the regular is not the healthiest.

I know being a vegetarian and living a plant-based lifestyle is very trendy right now but do not feel like this is the only way you can be healthy. If you are considering letting go of the meats keep these four tips in mind:

  1. Just because it does not contain meat does not make it healthier

  2. Vegetarian/vegan processed foods are still PROCESSED.

  3. Overconsumption of any food other than vegetables and some fruits is still unhealthy.

  4. Moderation is KEY.

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