I was going to write this post by sharing all of my meals on one of my strict vegetarian days. But, today is not a good example because all I’ve had is oatmeal and yesterday I had cheese pizza for dinner, which I’ve already told you all about. So instead, I’m going to tell you a little bit about my experience with vegetarianism, for those who are curious or considering it yourself.
I’m actually different from most other vegetarians that I’ve met in that I’m actually pescatarian (I eat fish) and am considering adding other animal protein sources to my diet.
I was a strict vegetarian for a long time. I started eliminating red meat from my diet when I was in elementary school, cut out chicken and other poultry soon after, and eventually cut out fish as well. I’m pretty sure that my parents though it was just a phase at the time (I was always kind of a weird kid). But eventually I got to the point that I didn’t remember what it was like to eat meat, so I didn’t feel like I was missing out.
I was a strict vegetarian for almost 10 years before I added fish back into my diet. The primary reason that I made that choice was that I was struggling to get the iron and protein that I needed from my diet, and also was beginning to feel like my options were very limited, especially when eating out at restaurants.
I’ve still been struggling to get an adequate amount of iron in my diet, and currently take a daily supplement. When my iron levels are low I get terrible migraines. That’s a big part of the reason that I’m considering adding poultry back into my diet. It seems clear that it’s something that my body needs and I would rather get it from its natural source than a pill every day.
So that’s where I’m at right now. I think that I would probably still eat vegetarian most of the time, right now I eat fish maybe once or twice a week, and most of the cooking that I do at home is still vegetarian. I’m conscious of the impact that meat eating has on our environment and I would like to make as little impact on that as possible by eating sustainably. I think that when I find a way to balance that I will slowly start incorporating more animal protein back into my diet but that first piece of chicken feels like a bigger step than you might realize.
Being a vegetarian (or really, any restrictive diet) can be healthy if done carefully and correctly. I would advise that future vegetarians think closely about what their motivation is for making such a choice – i.e. it probably won’t make you lose weight, but it is definitely possible to be healthy and energized on a plant based diet.
I would also urge heavy meat eaters to consider adding a few more vegetarian meals to their week, in the long run it will probably be healthy for you, the environment, and the animal that you were about to eat!