Ok gang, this is a biggy – as you can probably tell by the title – and I apologize in advance that this post won’t be as light hearted as most.
I’ve been a vegetarian (with the exception of a fish dish here and there) for over two years. Recently, however, I’ve had a lot of tummy troubles and after many a trial-and-error, have come to the conclusion that introducing meat back into my diet is the best thing for me and my current goals.
Though this isn’t the theme of this week’s Friday Five (check out You Signed Up For What?!, Eat Pray Run DC, and Mar On The Run for the linkup), I thought now would be a good time to share why I’m diving back into the omnivorous world.
- I recently discovered that I am allergic to wheat and soy. Most vegetarian proteins are made with wheat and soy. My current fitness goals require a high-protein diet. See the problemo? When I eliminate wheat and soy from the equation, it is extremely difficult to reach my protein requirement for the day without turning to meat. Of course there are things like beans and quinoa, but for reasons you’ll see later on – those are not good options for me.
- With all my new food allergies (nuts, corn, wheat, soy) and my lactose intolerance, I am finding it very difficult, if not impossible, to enjoy myself while eating out or attending social functions. I recently attended two BBQs and there wasn’t a single thing I could eat at either. I left hungry and grumpy. Sure, I could plan ahead and bring my own food, but I don’t enjoy doing that. I love the social aspect of food, and hate having to worry if there will be something I can eat wherever I go.
- I have also discovered I am very sensitive to fiber. The recommended daily fiber intake for a woman of my height and weight is about 25 grams. Sticking to my allergen-free high-protein vegetarian diet, I was having about 50 grams of fiber or more a day, and it was causing my stomach to be upset, bloated, and in pain constantly. This is also the reason I have a hard time getting my protein from vegetarian sources like beans and quinoa – they are high protein but also high fiber. If I eat them, I have to limit the rest of my fruit and veggie intake for fear of over-doing it on the fiber front.
- I am a foodie with the belief that food should be enjoyed. These food allergies force me to be a picky eater when I don’t want to be. I don’t need another food restriction on top of all of that to keep me from enjoying food. Don’t get me wrong, I NEVER saw being a vegetarian as restrictive – I always found options. But many of those options contained nuts, wheat, soy, or corn, which I can no longer have (at least not in large quantities). When I have to stay away from all that and watch my fiber, it’s hard to go out to eat or be in a social setting and enjoy the food present.
- I became a vegetarian for health reasons. When I cut out meat, I found new staples and got creative with my cooking. Over the past two+ years, I have learned so much about health and food and I believe I can add meat back in a healthy way. I know a lot more about lean meats, healthy portions, and how to incorporate them into good-for-you dishes. I still believe a plant-based diet is a VERY healthy one. It just isn’t the healthiest option for me right now.
Eating meat may not be the right or the healthiest path for everyone, but it is for me. Though chicken and turkey and yes, even the occasional cow, may find it’s way to my plate, I will continue to support the vegetarian and vegan communities and participate in Meatless Mondays.
I’m going to go slowly, starting with just a little bit at a time and only lean poultry to begin with. I need to see what my digestive system can handle.
Please know this decision was not easy. I went back and forth about it for months. I am nervous about how I will feel morally. I am nervous about how you all will feel. I hope those of you who look to this blog for vegetarian and plant-based recipes won’t be disappointed or be led astray. I still love my smoothies, healthy desserts, and vegetarian dishes, I’ll just be adding some meat into the mix, as well. If I do post recipes that incorporate meat, I will always try to include vegetarian and/or vegan alternatives.
Talk to me:
Did you ever go back to meat after leading a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle?
How do you enjoy meat in a healthy way?