My challenge for the month of July was to eat a strict vegetarian diet and it was the first time I had gone four weeks without eating meat of any kind. 18-months ago I learned of the importance of the function of the liver when I read The Liver Cleanse Diet by Dr Sandra Cabot, and immediately decided to take an eight week LCD.
I experienced a number of physiological changes after I completed the LCD. I lost two stone in weight, my bad breath improved, my number twos were more regular, I felt smarter and more energetic, and I received a lot of feedback to say that I looked younger and healthier.
These were all pleasant surprises, but the one that surprised me the most was the change to my eating habits. Prior to the LCD my favourite meal was well seasoned, medium rare, fillet steak and old English mustard. When I finished my LCD I no longer felt a desire to eat dark meat of any kind, although I continued to eat fish and chicken, because I had eaten both of these during the LCD (you are allowed to eat fish throughout, and chicken during the first and final fortnights of the diet).
I was curious to see if I stopped eating chicken and fish, for a month, would my urge to eat it diminish in the same way that my love for fillet steak did? I can now reliably inform you that it did. After finishing my challenge I found myself wandering around the mall looking for somewhere to eat. I have always loved Nandos chicken livers and so I made a decision to eat there. Suddenly, I was aware of a conversation I was having with my mind and before you knew it I was ordering a jacket potato with egg mayonnaise and mixed bean salad from Spudulike.
When I make these changes to my life, you would be surprised at the feedback I get from my friends and family. It’s almost as if they are trying to stop me being healthy by attempting to put roadblocks in my way. Most of them try to belittle me with silly little jabs taken straight out of the playground. Some of them try to re-educate me by asserting their uneducated thoughts onto my own.
A great example of the type of questions I was getting thrown at me on a regular basis was, “What do you do for protein?” You don’t need to eat meat in order to receive protein. Millions of vegetarians manage just fine as did our earliest ancestors before they started to eat meat. I love eating quinoa, can’t stop devouring beans and lentils, love a morning that starts with Tofu scramble, love nothing more than avocado on toast and snack on assorted nuts all of the time. My darling Liza also makes the most amazing protein shakes with peanut butter and almond milk.
People often hate dieting, but I don’t view my lifestyle choice as a diet. I am living a Lean Life and that means I abhor waste. Incorrect consumption of foodstuffs is a form of waste. I view my life as an end-to-end system, instead of viewing this period of my life as a diet – which is silo thinking and too one-dimensional. When you believe you are dieting then you believe you are deliberately preventing your body for consuming something it needs. I don’t have this view. Instead I have the view that I am living a Lean Life and this means I eat in a way that maximises the potential to live a longer and healthier life.
Approaching my life in this way makes it easy to become vegetarian. It started with the LCD, has continued with the vegetarian approach and will continue with my new challenge to remove sugar from my diet. This doesn’t mean I can’t eat meat or fish. I can eat whatever I want, but the way I have trained my body through my use of positive habits means I don’t want to eat these substances. Once again my friends will tease me and ask why am I putting my body through this? Why am I so boring? I just look at them incredulously. What exactly do they think I am putting my body through? Why do they think vegetarian food is boring?
The only difficulty in becoming a vegetarian is the world outside of your front door. I live in Cardiff, South Wales, in the UK. This is the capital city of Wales and the options for vegetarians are laughable. Even the supermarkets have still not created a great range of products for non-meat eaters, particularly products that also omit sugar as one of their ingredients.
I took most of my recipes from Crazy Sexy Kitchen by Kris Carr, and learned to make the most amazing vegetarian dishes. The one thing you notice as a vegetarian is the strength and depth of taste that you get from fresh produce when compared to the blandness of processed junk.
It was a huge challenge to keep up with my diet when I was working abroad, proving that it’s not just the UK that has limited options for vegetarians. The upside of not being able to eat a wide range of vegetarian foods outside of the home is reduction of cost. As I live a Lean Life I am always looking for ways to reduce costs as it is another of those deadly wastes. The stereotypical view of a vegetarian diet is it costs you more money to be healthy. I have found that this is nothing but an excuse that people use in order to maintain the status quo.
When you live a Lean Life, and change your dietary habits to suit, you stop drinking alcohol, eating take away food and eating out becomes less likely and cheaper. When you combine all of these lifestyle changes you suddenly find a lot more pennies jangling in your pocket. Eating healthier is a far more cost effective way to live your life: financially, emotionally and spiritually.
Now it’s your turn. Why not make the lifestyle choice to eat healthier and begin by creating the habit of not eating meat or fish for just one month. Connect with me on the Needy Helper and I will give you support along the way.
Photo courtesy of Stacey (cc & flickr.com)