Friday, March 20, 2015

A month as a vegetarian; now what?

It was on my 30 before 30 but even before that, it's always been a goal of mine to go without meat for a month or more. I don't know why, I think I wanted to prove to myself that I could, and that I didn't need meat. 

The main reason I decided to try being a vegetarian for a month was watching Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. It is such an interesting documentary, I highly recommend it. The guy is into juicing, but it's so much more than that. It goes into the science of why a plant based diet is good for you, rather than trying to shame you away from meat like other documentaries might. It made my 'meat and potatoes' husband open to the idea of less meat in his diet, which was a win for me. We watched this a long time ago and it's always stayed in my head.

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So, January. Vegetarian for one whole month.

I don't eat meat all that often, so it wasn't a hard adjustment at first. Until KC wanted chik fil a for dinner and I went through the drive thru and accidentally ordered myself a meal.. I realised before I got home, and just put it in the fridge for KC to eat later, and I had cereal. I ate a lot of cereal for dinner in January – mainly because I was sick and didn’t feel like cooking. But I also made some great meals (quick curried chickpeas with spinachblack bean burgers) and KC ate most of them with me. Things like risotto don't fill him up, so I would make some chicken on the side but as long as there was enough fat, fibre, protein etc in the meal, KC couldn't care less if it was vegetarian or not.

As for the benefits, or any changes? Vegetarian doesn't necessarily mean healthy, and I definitely ate my fair share of fries and milkshakes, so I didn't lose any weight. I have an iron problem, and I didn't prepare for that as well as I should have, and I definitely felt the consequences. My skin was clearer, I slept better and I was, er, regular. However, these are all things that happen when I respect my disease and don't eat gluten, so I don't think they were connected. Obviously, 31 days is not long enough to really determine anything though.

So if there were no visible benefits, why should I keep going? To me, eating less meat or being a vegetarian isn't about the visible benefits. I'm not trying to convince anyone to become a vegetarian or eat less meat but there is so much information out there to support a more plant based diet. You don't have to eat meat in every single meal, but it doesn't need to be all vegetarian either.  I’m not going to talk about all of that because I think there is so much information out there and so many people that say it better than I ever could.


Now, after I’ve gone on and on and on and on about why I went vegetarian for a month.. I want to say, as of right now, I am not and have no plans to be a vegetarian full time.

One of the biggest is because.. it's hard. I don't want to put myself in a box I can't get out of. I already have a disease that means I can't eat a lot of things and if I add meat to the restrictions, it makes my life even harder. Plus, sometimes I like meat. Simple as that.

So, no. I'm not going to be a vegetarian, but I will be more vegetarian than I was before. I might even try and go another month (or more) but with better planning this time. Like with most things in life, it doesn't have to be all or nothing. I am not trying to convert anyone and I am not saying meat is evil. The overall lesson from my month: I can survive perfectly well without meat. I want to make better choices. Whether you want to eat less meat, more ethical meat, more plants or go paleo or vegan.. I think we can all make better choices, and leave everyone else's alone, don't you agree? At the end of the day, whatever you eat – food isn't something we should make others feel guilty about. There is no one size fits all, you do you and I’ll do me. If what you are eating is good for your heart, happiness and wallet – good for you. Can’t I do the same?

57 comments:

  1. I don't eat that much meat, but I would have a hard time going vegetarian! Kudos to you for turning down a Chik Fil A meal. That's HARD to do!

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  2. Nope, I can't go vegetarian. Just can't do it. Props to you for being more vegetarian than you were, that's way more than I'll ever be! I can't believe you gave up your Chick Fil A meal. I mean, that's true dedication right there girl. Happy Friday!

    <3, Pamela
    Sequins & Sea Breezes

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  3. I have incorporated one meatless day a week and have actually gotten Mark to stick to it. I really want to cut as many animals products out of my diet as I can. When I do it with my patients their cholesterol is like normal.....it's a very enlightening experience.

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  4. I was a vegetarian for a year! I broke down when I started dreaming about eating chicken. I figured that was enough for me, but recently I've been thinking about cutting out red meat. If we were talking about it from an ethical standpoint, cows probably feel more pain than birds, right?

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  5. i tried being a vegetarian in the 90s and it put me in the hospital. i had really low iron and didn't eat enough protein. i don't eat eggs and back then, in a small town, there weren't that many options for meat substitutes. sure, we had the internet but it wasn't like it is now. once i started eating meat again it was like a fog was lifted from my eyes. now i go meatless once a week. i'm glad you shared your experience with us.

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  6. I do think that food is a very personal thing and for the past four years vegetarian has been the way to go for me. Sure, I've had either poultry or fish on a few occasions since then like one Thanksgiving or when I was at someone's home who I didn't know and I didn't want to be a big pain, but I still consider myself a vegetarian. We're only human! I recently thought about starting to eat a bit of meat again regularly, but decided against it because being vegetarian just makes me feel more like myself.

    I feel like I'm constantly having to defend my diet and provide proof that I'm getting everything I need to be healthy and quite frankly, it pisses me off. There is so much evidence out there to support a plant-based diet that it shouldn't be an issue anymore. I think because diet is so personal it will always be a conversation that makes people put their backs up a little.

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  7. Way to go on sticking to it for a month, that's awesome! It sounds like you have a good approach to it going forward, just to do as mush as you can. I don't blame you for not wanting to restrict your diet even further than you already have to!

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  8. I've been thinking about adding vegetarian for a month to my 40x40 just because I'm curious. A did it and it was hard, but doable. Thanks for sharing and Happy Friday!

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  9. I tried in for a month in high school, because my best friend was Vega, and it was HARD. I don't eat much red meat now and I hate fish so I eat a lot of chicken. I would love to plan it out and give it a try not for health reason, but for the animals. I feel guilty eating beef. I don't know why I don't feel as guilty eating chicken.

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  10. You're just like me - "mostly vegetarian"! I happen to really like veggies, so that helps. But just like you said, just because it's veggie does NOT mean it's healthy! And when it's time for a good burger, it's time for a good burger. But all the veggies help counteract that amazing burger, so it's all good :)

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  11. That's awesome you finished your challenge, way to go lady. I 100% agree that a more plant based diet is a better diet, but meat is a great protein if it's not filled with extra crap. I try to eat more plants and veggies now than I used to in the past. I'm even trying to have a meal a week that's just veggies. My husband isn't the biggest fan of that so he just adds a protein. Good job and I think you made a great decision for you!

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  12. That's amazing, good job! I personally don't think I could be a vegetarian full time either (probably not even close...) but it's definitely something to think about. I have a lot of friends that are vegetarian actually (probably like 3-5 good friends?).... I really want to do one day a week that's meatless because then I'm trying new things and learning what (other than meat) types of proteins are out there and are tasty... I do really like meat though so I couldn't (and don't think I'd want to either) give it up completely... but that's amazing. Truly. Like you said, it's something worth trying even if only to show yourself that you can and it's not bad :) XO

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  13. whenever there's a major change in diet -ie. going straight vegetarian or cutting grains out entirely like what i did, major planning has to be part of your change/adjustment. before i went grain free, i sat down and looked at what i currently ate and then for each grain that i usually ate, i mapped out an alternative. this made the transition so much easier because instead of trying to figure things out on the fly, i already knew what i would be eating before i got hungry. i started making things in batches again - i would make a week's worth of coconut flour breads or muffins for breakfast, batches of baked chicken for lunches etc.

    you're 100% right - there's no one size fits all. people will always be omg i can never be a vegetarian! or omg i can never stop eating bread! i get that a lot "what do you eat if you can't eat grains? are you crazy? aren't you always hungry?" the answer to all of these questions is: proper planning means better adaptation. my mom is always on my case about not eating grains which is annoying so i just ignore her comments. no one has to follow what i do - i cook my own meals so there's no bother to anyone else.

    choices when it comes to diet is a personal thing so it's irritating when people pipe up with their unsolicited advice and stay stuff when they're not even doing it or have never done it. the thing i hate the most are uneducated people who say: oh, you can't cut carbs - your body needs them. stupid. so i just roll my eyes and say: um, i've cut GRAINS out of my diet, not carbs. carbs are also present in vegetables and fruit you dumbass (but i say the dumbass part under my breath LOL)

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  14. After watching Fat Sick and Nearly dead Gary and I drastically changed our diets....and then it sort of fell by the wayside! I think you are absolutely right when you say that vegetarian doesn't = being healthy...there are still foods you can eat that aren't good for you!! I'm really happy that you completed your challenge!! xo, Biana -BlovedBoston

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  15. I need to watch that documentary. I know eating plant based it really good for you, and like you I'm not a meat LOVER but I do eat meat and do crave the occasional burger. I've always wanted to try being a vegetarian for a while too, but don't want to put myself in the "vegetarian" box like you.

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  16. Way to go lady!! I have always wanted to be vegetarian because of how strongly I feel about the way animals are treated, but Aaron and I have instead started researching and only buying products we know are responsibly and humanely farmed - definitely is a hit to the bank account, but I feel so much better eating food that I know has been treated humanely and had a healthy upbringing! Plus, I just think it is better for us too! Have a great weekend friend! xx

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  17. I think it's great that you are cutting back, but doing what works for you! That sounds like the healthiest thing to do anyways. I really want to watch that documentary too!! You are the second person that's talked about it and sometimes you just need something like that for a wake up call!

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  18. Congrats on completing the challenge. I know how hard it is. I do try to limit my meat intake but every now and then I just crave a burger. I'm such a picky eater that I'm not sure I could go vegetarian. But I do tryto eat as much veggies as I can tolerate. Way to go Lady!

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  19. I love that you at least tried it :) ... & you're right - everyone needs different things. I just wish more people would give it a try, or at least cut back on the meat. They don't realize the impact it has on so many things.
    For me, being anemic, I have a big protein problem & being a vegetarian, I've been having issues. I'm starting to go to a pescatarian lifestyle... able to eat seafood. I just know I can never go back to eating things that breath real air :) ... it is hard at first, but honestly, its so natural to me now, I can't imagine eating anything else. It has made my skin better & stomach issues better... but you're right. Chocolate & cheese is vegetarian. The scale didn't change for me on this lifestyle.
    LOVE that documentary. Makes me want to live on a juice diet for 30 days!

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  20. I was a vegetarian for 5 years before I started eating meat again. Now, I don't eat a lot of meat and more often choose vegetarian choices but like you, i can't limit myself. Sometimes I just want chicken. But it's good that trying it made you more aware of the benefits and how you can incorporate some of those choices into your daily life.

    And my husband is like yours--as long as it tastes good, he'll eat it.

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  21. Interesting! Good for you for trying it out, I know it'd be hard. I'm not sure I could do it haha. I don't eat a lot of meat though, I'm really just a turkey & chicken person, I probably eat red meat once a month.

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  22. I'm so impressed that you didn't just eat the Chik-fil-A anyway after you had already ordered it! That's something I would have done and been like oh well, too late! haha. The older I get the less interested I seem in meat most of the time, though I would probably never give it up full-time either. I need to work (really hard) at incorporating more fruits & veg. into my diet in general, I can go a week being really good and intentional about it, but then I get lazy- I really have no other excuse!

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  23. i call myself a part time vegetarian and feel exactly the same way you do. sometimes I want a hamburger and I'm not going to feel bad about it. Still, I like to challenge myself to eat vegetarian so I actually consume some vegetables. I don't know how anyone is reaching the recommended daily servings of vegetables, I feel like I only get there if I eat a salad or a stir fry!

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  24. I am really missing Chick fil A biscuits!! Good for you for trying it out. I really think it's good to try stuff like that just to see how it affects you good or bad! Cheers!

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  25. I think for the next challenge you should do a month of ONLY meat. What do you say? Hehe! But in all seriousness I have to give you props because while I know eating more veggies is the right thing - I hate them. Pretty much all of them. I dont want to eat them so most of the time I dont. I really need to get my shit together though and start forcing myself to. Thanks for the inspiration.

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  26. Verrrry interesting! I would really like to watch that documentary. I was a vegetarian for a few years in college. Then I got pregnant and craved meat so I went back to eating it. Now I am a moderate meat eater. And I really love your thoughts about not attempting to make people feel guilty for what they choose to eat or not eat. (And this goes for a lot of choices in life, not just food!) It's one of my pet peeves when people do that.

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  27. I've always limited the meat that I eat naturally and am allergic to a ton of food, so I can respect why you don't want to limit things just to limit them. I find that eating fish helps me keep my iron and protein levels up, with a ton of other benefits... and when I want a steak I just make sure it is a REALLY good one :)

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  28. ooh I haven't seen that doc yet, def putting it on my to watch list. We watched one about the meat industry and it made us decide to stick with organic and grass fed only, which is way more expensive which means we eat way less meat haha.

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  29. I have had meat only once this week (for dinner)! It's definitely more wallet-friendly, and there are so many great options (plus it's just easier to not have to cook meat hah). I love mushroom or squash-filled ravioli and crave falafel like no other. That is real will power to have not eaten the Chick-fil-a! And I'm glad you mentioned the point how vegetarian isn't necessarily healthy (i.e. my "vegetarian" college friend who LEGIT only ate fries with cheese each meal. I can't even.).

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  30. I've never really thought of the benefits of being a vegetarian, that's interesting! I don't have plans to do it, not because I just LOVE meat, but because if I dont have protein I'm not fun to be around!

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  31. That documentary is AWESOME and very eye-opening. After watching that, we got a juicer :) I'm still a meat-eater, but I've upped my plant intake a LOT in the past couple of years. I just feel better when I'm eating lots of veggies. We try to go meatless 1-2x a week! Kudos to you for rocking your challenge.

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  32. I am definitely not a vegetarian (as my two steak meals last week prove!) but I have also starting increasing the number of vegetarian meals in my diet. There are so many delicious non-meat recipes that it makes it totally worth it for the health benefits! (Plus, I could never give up my McDonald's cheeseburgers, haha - I still love them!)

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  33. We've talked about all this already (and recently, haha) so I don't feel like I have much new to say, but I love that you wrote this post about your experience. And I'm proud of you for crossing another item off that list!

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  34. I love meat and poultry, but I love my veggies too. I try to have a good balance!

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  35. I've thought about the idea of going Vegetarian, considering I only eat chicken and very rarely Pork. But I always come to the conclusion that it would be so hard to give it up! That being said- I can eat veggies and fruits for a meal no problem!! Congrats on a month!

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  36. I have always wanted to try this, but I feel like it would be so hard since I eat a lot of meat haha! I could probably be a vegitarian that ate seafood bulc no way in heck I could give up my seafood haha! Good job for getting through the month though! Have a great weekend!

    <3 Shannon
    Upbeat Soles

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  37. I am with you about not wanting to put myself in a box with completely omitting huge food groups from my diet. I need to cut down on my carbs, so eating more meat is going to come naturally with that because when you cut carbs...all you have left is meat really...But I dont plan to cut them completely. Mainly because they are delicious! But anyways, there are meals that I make about once a week or so that are meatless. I don't have to have meat all the time, but there are some days that I really just want a burger or something and I think everything is ok in moderation.

    Good for you for sticking to your goal of cutting it for a month!

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  38. We changed a lot of our eating/food shopping habits after I read The Omnivore's Dilemma. I will have to check out that documentary. We somewhat limit our meat eating, we try to do at least one vegetarian meal a week, and we eat more as an ingredient than a main dish for many at home meals. I like a lot of vegetarian dishes, but I won't ever be vegetarian...mostly because of bacon :) and I like to eat and try new/ unique dishes. Glad you achieved your goal and stuck with it!! We really like this red bean curry over rice, I use a hot pepper in it and a bit more ginger than called for http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2009/02/red-kidney-bean-curry/

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  39. Thats really cool. I don't eat a lot of meat either but I have also always wanted to try it for a month or more. I totally agree with not putting yourself in a box though!

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  40. I'm proud of you for trying, but that couldn't be my thing ever! I like that you recognize that you don't want to restrict yourself further or put yourself in a box. :)

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  41. I have tried it for a few and it is hard. I agree too if you don't do it right you can gain weight or stay the same. The benefits are really good, so I try to eat less meat but I can't get rid of it completely either.

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  42. Haha we tried being a vegetarian and lasted all of 3 days.
    Melanie @ meandmr.com

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  43. When Scott's not here, I eat vegetarian 95% of the time. My exception is a weekly or every-other-week rotisserie chicken. I just hate cooking meat, so I don't very often.
    I was reading a blog last week and this girl had me practically convinced to try whole30 for a month. Then I was like, "Wait...I barely eat meat..."

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  44. great post. i totally wanna check out that documentary now. do you know where i can find it?? maybe netflix?

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  45. I like the idea of not boxing yourself in. It makes sense. I tried once to do something similar but only made it 9 days meatless. No joke. Especially right now as I'm gluten free and mainly eat salads and soups I'd find it so difficult to give up my comfort in meat but I applaud those who do it though. My mum is a vegetarian and has been for 20 plus years so I don't remember her eating meat as I was young when she stopped. I always admire that she still cooks meat for us and doesn't even taste it herself.

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  46. Kudos to your discipline. Not everyone can last a month.

    I'm not a big fan of meat too. Some chicken and fish, yes. I hope you can find the right diet for your health needs. I know it could be tricky sometimes.

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  47. "Vegetarian doesn't necessarily mean healthy" So many people do NOT get this. Pete became a vegetarian a few months ago and we were just talking today about how his friends think it's to lose weight. They asked him how much he lost and he said "none, I'm still eating like shit, I'm just not eating meat." Derp! Kudos to you for giving it a go and sticking to it!

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  48. How awesome that you gave this a try! I've been back into juicing lately so I need to watch Fat, Sick, & Nearly Dead!

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  49. Absolutely true! There is no "one size fits all" when it comes to nutrition. I have done raw food, vegetarianism, veganism, juice cleanses, but in the end I have found that the only thing that helps me keep my Celiac symptom-free is basically a very clean Paleo diet with lots of veggies. I am not dogmatic about it though, because I spent too many years torturing myself through yo-yo dieting and I know that dogma isn't what makes me feel better, eating consciously is. I don't believe in guilting anyone into or out of anything!
    Good for you for stepping out of your comfort zone and trying out vegetarianism! Challenging ourselves always comes with a new perspective, doesn't it?
    Have a great week!

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  50. You already know my feelings about this, but I'm glad you shared your experience! I just don't believe that there is a one-size-fits-all diet. We each have to make our own choices about what your body need and what we feel comfortable giving it. We are so fortunate to have SO many different options for good, fresh food available (meat and veggies alike) and to really have a wide range of choices about what we eat. It's amazing.
    Thanks for showing people that you can make different choices and not be judgey about it. I hate when people assume that because I'm vegetarian, I want everyone to be. I believe it's the best choice for ME, and that's why I do it. I do think that more people should examine where their meat comes from (because I feel strongly about the ethical treatment of animals) and decide if they are okay with that, instead of turning a blind eye like so many people do...but ultimately, I know that they have to decide for themselves and that I'm in no position to interfere with that decision.

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  51. I've never been a vegetarian nor have the desire to be, but I'm with you, I can go without meat no problem. I'm not sure that I'm as strong as you and could last a whole month though! Thanks for sharing your experience and info!

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  52. I don't know if I could do it - I eat some meat every day!!! Plus, I'm awful about reading labels and would probably end up eating things I shouldn't.
    Great job sticking with it for the entire month.

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  53. You have to find what works for you. I was a vegetarian for almost 4 years in Junior high and High School, and calories are important (it's easy to over eat carbs as a vegetarian). I can't be one now, because I have no real good source of protein since I'm sensitive to soy - all soy. All legumes. I'm sorta screwed from that perspective. I liked not eating meat, but I also admit there are times I do like it (although I probably only have red meat maybe a couple times a year, tops.) I stick with poultry and eggs for the most part now.

    For me, the biggest part where I would be a vegetarian if I could is the animal-guilt I have. I don't like eating them. I worry about the practices that go into the mass production of food for our stores, and antibiotics, and so on... there are a lot of good reasons to hold up on the meat eating. But not everyone can, nor does everyone want to, and that's OK too.

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  54. Great post! I agree with you completely. Plant based diets are good and it's important to be educated but no one size fits all and I hate when people make others feel guilty about what they chose to eat. Also I really liked that documentary. i bought a juicer shortly after watching it haha

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  55. I've watched Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead. It really is interesting. It got me to start juicing (though I couldn't JUST juice...my will power when it comes to food is almost non-existent). I can't see myself ever becoming a full-fledged vegetarian b/c (like you said) sometimes, you just wanna eat meat. However, the recipes you linked to sound like great alternatives. And some non-meats can be very filling! Chickpeas are my favorite meat substitute.

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  56. Sounds like your experience with no meat for a month was much easier than mine. I really struggled with not feeling full without meat but that was probably due to lack of planning on my part. Cory and I are huge meat eaters and when we do, it's mostly chicken, but I can definitely see the benefits of leaning more towards a plant based diet.

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  57. I did the veggie thing for lent once, and I was on a lot of yoga.. a lot lot of yoga. Good lord looking back I was teeny tiny. I didn't mind missing the meat most of the time. Hardly ever really. KC gave up red meat that same time. So it made us both way more into veggie as a posibility. There are some things we just never think need meat, or have way too much meat now. Which in the long run is probably and ok thing. :) Its good that you guys made some progress and gave it a try. There's nothing wrong with eating veggie once a week or whatever. :) XO -Alexandra

    Simply Alexandra: My Favorite Things

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