Even after that, I wasn't much of a meat eater. I didn't avoid it, but it wasn't something I needed to have for a meal to be satisfying. A typical day for me would consist of meat with or in my suppertime meal. That's about it. So when I decided to partake in a 6 week vegetarian challenge, I knew it wouldn't be much of a challenge for me.
I love documentaries, especially those about controversial topics that stay with you long after you watch it. The most recent was "Vegucated," a film that follows 3 meat and cheese loving New Yorkers on a challenge to go vegan for 6 weeks. I won't go into the gory details, but seeing the way factory farm animals are treated disgusted me. Honestly, I'm not so sure I could eat meat at this point without seeing those images and losing my appetite. Again, I won't go into details, but it is free to watch on Netflix if you choose.
Aside from the animal cruelty aspect, they also showed the difference that omitting animal products made in the health of these 3 individuals. Weight, blood pressure, cholesterol levels. All down, significantly. This same theory was supported, in further detail, in Forks Over Knives, another excellent documentary about the health benefits of eating a whole foods, plant based diet.
My health in general is not terrible. I'm a pretty healthy eater overall. I am not overweight, though I could lose about 12 pounds to be where I really want to be. I don't have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, or any other diet related symptoms or illnesses. I do suffer from complex migraines and tension headaches, as well as adult acne and seasonal allergies. I also have fibromuscular dysplasia of my carotid arteries (abnormal cell development that leads to thickening of the arterial wall), which could potentially be worsened if I were to add in any artery clogging factors. That is really about it, and I would like it to stay that way!
Typically, I am an all or nothing kind of girl. Go big or go home. Going vegan though is a bit of a stretch for me, and honestly I'm not so sure I even want to go that far. So I decided to start small, and let things happen the way they happen. I have been 100% meat free for exactly one week, and I honestly don't miss it. For me, it's been pretty easy. Breakfast, lunch, and snacks haven't changed for me at all. For breakfast, I usually eat cereal or oatmeal, a banana, and maybe yogurt. Sometimes eggs with brown rice, salsa, and cheese. And coffee, of course. Lunch is usually soup, stir fry, a wrap, or a sandwich. I eat a wide variety of grains, veggies, nut butters, seeds, and am working on legumes, so it's easy for me to get creative. I even bought tofu, but I haven't tried it yet. Snacks are typically fruit, string cheese, almonds, a can of V8 Fusion, whatever I happen to grab. Supper has required a little more planning on my part. I try to make a meat free version of what the rest of my family is eating, so I don't feel like I am eating an entirely separate meal. I had rice, beans and salsa in a tortilla the other night while they had tacos. When we made homemade pizza, I skipped the pepperoni and topped mine with spinach, tomatoes, olives, avocado, mozzarella, and feta cheese. I honestly think I got the better end of the deal there. It was DELICIOUS. Last night when Mr. Wannabe made chili, he just separated some out before adding the beef. I learned on day one, when we went through the Burger King drive-thru, that they now have Morningstar veggie burgers! I really haven't "missed out" on anything! The day I told my son I was going to start a vegetarian diet, his response was "No! You can't be a vegetarian, vegetarians are too picky and you'll starve." He proceeded to tell me about his aunt on his dad's side, who was only able to eat mashed potatoes at Christmas dinner. My response was that you can't really be a healthy vegetarian if you don't like vegetables. So at least I have that on my side.
Who knows where the next few weeks will take me? Maybe I'll go back to meat. Maybe I'll feel like going vegan is a natural next step. Maybe vegetarian is the way to go for me. But for now, I'm just a 6 week wannabe, and that's good enough for me.