Recovering Vegetarian

I’m not gonna lie. I’m so not feeling it today. And by “it,” I mean everything. Ever have those days where nothing seems to please you? I’m starting to feel the stress with work + personal training certification + big move in June. Not to mention, I’m going home tomorrow and I just want to be there already!!!

At least I took a well-deserved rest day today. Okay, all rest days are well-deserved ;) But it also meant I got to eat breakfast in bed and not at my desk! I gave cream of wheat another go, this time on the stove-top.

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  • 1/3 cup cream of wheat
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup egg whites (whisked in while cooking)
  • cinnamon, stevia, vanilla extract
  • cashew butter
  • Unsweetened shredded coconut
  • Drizzle maple syrup

IMG_4504

Much better!! First, this was a giant serving. It puffed up huge!!! The texture is a lot like oat bran, very fine, but even creamier. I also found it to be lighter, and milder tasting. Thumbs up though!! Bummer on the fibre, but plus on the iron content ;)

Work was busybusy again. Lots more meetings spent filling up my calendar with projects. Came home to a delicious dinner.

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I sautéed onions, bell pepper, spinach, garlic and mushrooms in butter, while nuking a spaghetti squash for about 10 minutes. Once the squash was cooked, I scraped out the insides and added it to the pan with smoked salmon.

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For the sauce, I mushed up cottage cheese and laughing cow cheese, adding a little nutmeg, garlic powder and pepper. Then I added it to the pan just to heat it up. Deeeeeelish!!! Tasted just like an alfredo :)

 

“Recovering Vegetarian”

This is what I call myself these days. Last weekend, I tweeted that I was nervous to watch Food Inc. as a “recovering vegetarian.” Heather tweeted back wondering what I meant by the term, and mentioned it would be a good idea for a post. Duly noted!!

So tonight I will talk about how I went from eating veggie burgers on my birthday

01-23-09-me-and-burger

To beef burgers at my cottage

I should perhaps start at the beginning. When I was in the sixth grade, my family had an exchange student from New Zealand live with us for four months. She was a vegetarian, and my parents, sisters and I were not. So my lovely mother accommodated her diet. Our dinners became mostly vegetarian, and my mother became a very good vegetarian cook. It was a style of eating I was introduced to at a young age and really liked!

In the years that followed, my family ate more and more vegetarian type foods. My mom made delicious veggie chili, lasagna, hummus, vegepate, to name a few. I was also becoming less enthralled with the idea of eating dead things. Finally, when I was 14, I gave up meat for good.  Anyone ever see that Simpsons episode where Lisa becomes a vegetarian? She’s eating lamb chops when a cute little lamb appears and says “Liiiss-a-a-a don’t e-e-eat mee-e-e…”

Well that was me. Except my moment involved a ham sandwich and a cute little pig. At that point, I gave up eating all meat because it grossed me out. Plain and simple. The thought of picking dead bits of animal out of my teeth made me shudder.

Because I was so young when I stopped eating meat, I don’t think I went about it in the best manner. Too many carbs, not enough protein, not enough nutrients, and an overall feeling of lethargy.

I should mention there was also a brief period when I was 19 where I tried a strict vegan diet. This included no regular salts or sugars in case they went through an animal charcoal filter. It was a bleak month. I got the flu after four weeks, and when I could finally stomach food again, all I wanted was a cheesy fried-egg sandwich. To this day, that sandwich is one of the best I’ve ever had.

As I grew up more, I learned more about the local meat industry. I became more used to the idea of killing, cooking, and eating dead animals. I eventually decided that I was ready for fish again. Namely, fish and chips. After six years, I forayed into the world of meat once again.

 
Greasy and absolutely delicious. The texture was weird, but it was just like I remembered from childhood.

For the next two years, I was a happy pescetarian. I still ate a mostly vegetarian diet, with the odd tuna sandwich, salmon filet, or trip to William’s Seafood for the above fish n’ chips ;) However, it was during this period that my weight started to increase. By the time I hit 22, I was at an all-time high weight, and I was ready to drop it. I delved into nutrition research and started picking apart the food I was eating. My diet was way too carb heavy, and the measly 5g of protein I got from peanut butter in one meal was nowhere near what my body needed.

During this period I also started weeding out processed foods. I relied too heavily on things like soy slices, fake ground meat, veggie burgers, facon bacon, etc. I was suddenly an active person, and I wanted to fuel that activity with quality food. Not sodium-filled slabs of soy with ingredients I couldn’t pronounce.

Thanksgiving 2008, eight years after I’d given up meat, I chose to eat the turkey. It was good. Real good. Again, the food immediately brought me back to my childhood, and I realized how much I missed it. With the elimination of multiple soy products a day, and the introduction of occasional white meat, my body immediately started to feel better. I’ll never forget the second time I had grilled chicken. It was like a jolt of energy through my veins.

For a long time, I planned on just eating fish and poultry. But in Summer 2009, my food curiosity got the best of me. Now that I’d crossed the “gross out” barrier, I wanted to open myself up to all foods again.

And that includes my mom’s meat pie.

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So that’s how I went from a veggie to a meat lover!! Mind you, I still cook a lot of vegetarian-type meals. I often rely on tofu, soy, beans, lentils, dairy and eggs for my protein. But adding quality meat products to those things has only improved my body functioning. I recognize this is not the story for everyone, but that’s why the man upstairs made us all different ;) I’ve finally come to peace with the idea that I’m eating cute little piggies and cows. And I thank every single one of them for giving their life for my health :)

But pleeeeeease don’t talk about eggs. I don’t want to know what’s in there. *puts fingers in ears* lalalalalala.

 

Question of the Day: How about you? Meat? No Meat? Vegan? Raw? Carnivore? Omnivore? Idontgiveacrapvore?

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Posted on March 4, 2010, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 53 Comments.

  1. love this! ive been meaning to write about how i became a meat eater after being veggie for 7 years. i still have some moments when i wonder if ill ever go back – but for now im eating meat :)

  2. love this girl!!! im all about some meats-and i love reading about stories like this and hearing GOOD things about it!

  3. Pescetarian, I guess that’s the proper term? I’ve always call it vegequarium. I’m a happy omnivore; I’ve yet to meet a vegetarian dish I didn’t like, but I will never fully cut meat out of my diet because I just plain like it too much.

  4. I guess I’d consider myself an omnivore if I was going to pick. I have days where my diet looks vegetarian, but my body can’t absorb enough iron from non-meat sources. (Tried iron pills and they didn’t help my levels)
    One of my best friends is a vegetarian and has been for 15+ years. (Aside from not wanting to eat dead animals, she never really liked the taste of meat, so she didn’t miss it once it was gone.) She has definitely noticed that she eats way too many carbs and crappy type foods, but we’ve discussed that her first obstacle to eating better is to work on regular grocery shopping.

  5. Thanks for sharing!

    I’m an eat what I want girl. That being said, I’ve never particularly enjoyed many animal products. LOVE my eggs though. And I think as long as they are cage-free and organic, their the same as the eggs our ancestors have been eating for centuries, so I’m cool with that.

  6. Omnivore! I eat meat, but not a ton. Hardly any red meat at all. Mostly fish and shrimp and chicken. Rarely pork. Only bacon basically. I couldn’t go vegan just because of eggs and cheese. I couldn’t go vegetarian because of seafood. I could easily be pescetarian and have debated it. But what is the point of doing that if I have no qualms about eating meat really?

  7. first of all, I love cream of wheat, its awesome

    I eat meat, occasionally, mostly seafood. I quit eating pork and beef awhile back, just makes me sick. And chicken im just not a huge fan of. I will eat eggs occasionally, or if its in baking or something. I want to become vegan, or at least mostly vegan foods, and high raw. I plan to do that this summer when produce is cheaper and more available, because i am in Saskatchewan and theres snow at least 1/2 of the year haha

  8. 1. Love that Simpsons episode =D

    2. I am, although I do not particularly like the word, a flexitarian. Technically, I am an omnivore. I was a vegetarian for a year, and a pescetarian for three. I had a brief stint with veganism as well, for about 3-4 months. However, then I went to Italy, started eating cheese/eggs/fish again, and eventually tried meat again. When I eat with my boyfriend, I tend to eat poultry/fish and the occasional red meat because he likes it, and it is easier to cook the same thing for both of us. However, when I am feeding myself, or just plain feeling like it, I regularly eat vegetarian. Not because I don’t like meat- I happen to think pork is one of God’s most incredible gifts to man, but because I feel SO much better when I eat vegetarian. However, I don’t think I will ever be vegetarian again. I like the way it makes me feel, but I LOVE the taste of fish, chicken and pork. I’m not so much for beef, but that’s just a personal choice. I am going to be a chef, as well, and there is pretty much no way for me to be 100% vegetarian as a professional cook. That being said, my dream would be to work/own a vegetarian restaurant! Because I would LOVE to show the world that vegetarian food can be as delicious and innovative as meat dishes. I love my veg!

    Phew, sorry I wrote a book =D

    xo
    K

  9. This was super interesting to read!! I haven’t heard of many people stopping being a vegetarian after so long.

    I consider myself a flexitarian. I eat meat 2-3 times per week!

  10. Amazing post!
    I really support you decision of cooking vegetarian dishes, but eating meat once in a while. I mean, you´ve been vegetarian for a long time! You already know how it works. But I guess you´re on a different phase of life right now, and maybe it includes eating meat. Who knows? Nobody has the right answer!
    :)
    Be happy and be healthy. Nothing else will really matter ;)
    Have a great Friday, Susan!
    Brazilian XOXO´s,
    Gabriela

  11. I just kind of eat whatever! I don’t eat a lot of meat though. This is for a variety of reasons..many of them health related and many of them ethics related, but the biggest reason why I don’t eat it much is that I think it tastes bland.

  12. That is so funny on the Lisa Simpson quote because we always say “I thought you loooooved me!” LOL!

    I am an omnivore. However, I really try very hard not to eat what we call corporate meat, which is factory farming. We purchase from small local farms – and are lucky to be able to do so. That means most times when we eat out, it is fish or vegetarian unless the restaurant has local meat.

    I need protein, though and it is hard for me to get with just plant sources without overdoing on the carbs or too many calories. Animal protein is just a more efficient delivery vehicle for protein.

    I also really try to appreciate the meat by not wasting any of it. I want to respect that animal by not being wasteful.

  13. i love your story of transitioning from vegetarianism to meat, because i don’t think we often get that perspective. it really goes to show that any diet can be unhealthy depending on what you eat – you can be a healthy vegan but you can also be a malnutrioned vegan. you can be a healthy meateater, but you can also be an unhealthy meateater.

    get to bed early, sleep those zzz’s and have a better day tomorrow love :)

  14. Thanks for sharing that story. I was vegetarian for a couple years, missed the meat a bit and it was just too hard to make meals for S and I when he wanted meat. Now, we try to cut back on meat, I cook vegetarian at least 3 meals a week. I’d love to go vegetarian full force, but the rest of the family wouldn’t have it.

  15. I loved reading about your transitions! I also like that you mentioned the reason you were lacking in nutrients and potein was because you still ate processed foods and things like that. A lot of people think that vegetarians/vegans end up becoming vitamin/protein deficient because meat is what keeps us healthy and it’s not true!!

    I’m vegan and I feel as strong and healthy as ever :D

  16. I have been a vegetarian for 7 1/2 years. I feel so much better then when I was a meat eater. I became one in college when I did a paper trying to convince my reader to become a veggie and after doing all that research I couldn’t go back. I just make sure to get plenty of protein and eat a lot of veggies and fruits. Thanks for sharing your story, I always love hearing about stuff like this.

  17. I un-became a vegetarian when I was in college due to some health reasons after being a veggie for 8 years. It was definitely the best move for me and now even though I eat a mainly vegetarian diet I know my body (and my taste buds!) love my occasional meat filled meal

  18. Pescaterian! I’ve been thinking about adding chicken back in, but I’m not sure yet…

    Em

  19. This was really interesting! Thanks for sharing Susan :)

    I’m an omnivore – I don’t exclude any foods. I do consider myself an ethical eater though – I try to eat local and organic meat, and shop at my local Farmer’s market.

  20. I stopped eating red meat and pork when I was 13, and poultry when I was 15. I do eat seafood/eggs/dairy products. I typically tell friends and family I’m a vegetarian though, just because it’s easier for them to remember that than the list of things I will eat.
    I stopped eating meat because the texture grosses me out. Sometimes it will smell really good (esp. if it’s covered in barbecue sauce, which I LOVE), so I’ll try to eat it. But I end up just chewing and chewing, and my throat locks up if I try to swallow so I end up spitting it out. Odd, I know.

  21. Anything I want as long as it’s healthy.

  22. Here is a good video on meat: http://meat.org

  23. It’s really late and my story is really long :) but i just want to say i totally respect you for listening to your body and doing what was the best thing for YOU in order to find better health…that’s really all that matters and who cares what other people think, say, etc and you’re on the right path for you….excellent :)

  24. That is all so interesting. I never realized all of that about you. I prefer a diet with some meat too. I usually only have meat at dinner these days, but I like what that form of protein does for my body so it’s staying! :)

  25. Wow, thanks for sharing that story- very interesting! I have never been a vegetarian, but I really only eat fish and chicken. I would say I eat fish 3-4 times per week (including tuna sandwiches haha) and chicken maybe once a week, or twice in the summer when I can grill out. I definitely eat a lot of vegetarian meals and I love some of the vegetarian foods like hummus, tofu, and beans!

  26. Great post!

    I want to start eating chicken once a week, but whenever I have bought chicken in the past I have been so grossed out…..chicken breasts are so abnormally large now and I am scared about antibiotics etc.
    Do you buy yours from a farmers market or how do you deal with the modern chicken scariness??

  27. Interesting!

    I’ve been a pescetarian for 4yrs now. It was mainly for health reasons that I cut some things out of my diet but I’ve always been someone who didn’t want to think about it when an animal was on my plate.

    At the time I was worried about getting enough protein so I joined one of the free calorie counting sites that let you track specific things. Turns out I had nothing to worry about. I do get excited about things like Greek Yogurt finally hitting Canadian shelves though…I just wish I enjoyed it more. Ah well.

  28. Great post. I have been pescetarian for the last 15 years. Prior to that I was vegetarian (lacto-ovo) for 3-4 years (and omnivore before that). I first became vegetarian in college for health reasons but I really didn’t do it properly (high carbs, lots of fake meat, etc) I was always tired and cold and one day decided to eat some shrimp and felt soo good. It was strange, just like you experienced. I felt “alive” again so I added fish/seafood back into my diet. I still have many vegetarian meals but most days have at least one serving of seafood. I mainly buy wild, sustainable fishes and am careful not to consume too much of the ones higher in mercury.

  29. I’m a huge carnivore. I do try to buy the lean and antibiotic free kind. I know it’s terrible but most of my meals are red meat. So far my bloodwork comes back excellent so I guess it’s ok. Compared to the rest of the comments I feel like a barbarian!

  30. I didn’t know you had a background in vegetarianism! Fun story…you know I support meat-eating ;) I definitely try to eat vegetarian meals and be conscious my meat intake, but I love a good burger or steak!

    Oh, I haven’t had Cream of Wheat since I was a kid! You’re right–it is similar to oat bran but sooooo much creamier :)

    Happy Friday, Susan!

  31. Thanks for sharing! I love to hear why people make certain food choices. I also love your blog in general, so there you go =-)

  32. Great story! I used to feel pressured to be a vegetarian.. but I really don’t like relying on processed veggie foods like you stated. My body likes the “clean” meat.. and although I don’t like the idea of where it’s coming from, my body functions better with it too! :)

  33. I didn’t eat meat for ages but doc told me I desperately needed it so I’ve started eating it again and am glad I did I’m loving it! x x

  34. I really enjoyed this post! It’s funny how are points of view and open-mindedness towards types of food change as we get older (my diet’s practically unrecognizable from a couple years ago). That’s great you were able to eat meat again. After years of being vegetarian, if my Mom accidentally eats meat, she gets really sick. Happy Friday!

    • Yeah, I was worried I would get sick when I started eating meat again, but luckily my digestive system didn’t skip a beat with it! Just another sign that my body likes it :)

  35. I’m vegan (raised with SAD, was vegetarian for 10 years, vegan for one of those, and then ate meat for a few years but never felt too great about it)…what i really LOVE about this post is that you’re staying true to yourself, and doing what works best for *you*. i can’t stand when people get all preachy and go on about how EVERYONE should adopt the same kind of diet. when i was vegan at 18, i craved what i “couldn’t” have…all i wanted was soy cheese and meat analogues. But at 23, i havent even THOUGHT about eating dairy/eggs/meat since making the switch, and soy + processed “bacon” and the like make rare appearances. Doing what feels right for you is way more important than upholding an image or ideal!

  36. I am WAY too familiar with just not feeling ‘it’. It happens quite a lot! I’m a vegetarian but whenever people ask me about my views I just say that they have to do what makes them feel best. Personally, I’ve NEVER liked meat – my mom can attest to this. I refused to eat the meat baby food that came in jars. Glad you found what works best for you :)

  37. For most of last year I went pescatarian. I did it because I’d gotten sick of eating dead things and frankly I always felt gross afterwards.

    At first it went great – I lost like 10lbs right away. I felt bloated. And not so gross. I thought I’d be a pescatarian for the rest of my life.

    Wrong.

    By early December I felt completely exhausted. I would sleep and it never felt like it was enough. I would wake up tired. And I was always low on energy. I went to the Doctor and it turned out I had managed to become severely anemic. His advice? Workout more, work less, relax more, and eat MEAT!!!

    I’ve taken all of his advice to heart and so far so great! :) I now eat meat and I have so much more energy. I still don’t love chicken but I have a better diet over all. And my body loves me more because of it!

  38. Love this post! I was vegetarian for a while, and had a brief vegan stint. I ate pretty healthily both times and my diet was balanced enough, but my body just feels best with some animal protein. Even with the same amount of protein, for some reason my body seems to like animal sources better. Strange…haven’t heard of anyone else experiencing that, but can definitely relate to the jolt of energy. Maybe because it’s more easily accessible by the body? I still eat primarily meat free meals- I have fish a few times a week and chicken/turkey maybe 5 times a month. I still won’t touch/cook meat or fish from raw though and have a hard time eating something that LOOKS like meat (chopped chicken in a stir-fry is fine, chicken wing is hard for me). I am a flexitarian :D

  39. I guess if you want to get technical, I’m an omnivore. But I don’t really get into the whole labels. Just eat food you like and eat food that makes you feel good and you’re golden. Whether that means enjoying steak, turkey, and fish, or going full on raw vegan, as long as you are meeting your nutrient requirements, and you feel your body is functioning properly, there’s no reason to get bent out of shape of putting a label on it.

  40. here i am commenting again. i cant shut the heck up! LOVED reading your meat to veg to meat story :)

  41. I loved reading this :) I’ve spent most of this year experimenting with a vegetarian/vegan diet, learning about the food industry, different schools of nutrition, etc. I drove myself crazy! I’ve decided the stress is more detrimental to my health than any less-than-healthy foods would be, so I’ve decided to just try to eat what makes me feel good. This means mostly fruits and veggies, beans, grains, eggs, with a smattering of grass-fed meats and dairy, dessert, and even the occasional handful of Cheetos.
    After reading so much about the meat, dairy, and egg industries, I’ve had to make peace with animal products in order to not feel guilty when eating them. I’ve always loved animals, but I’m not a bad person for eating them. I try to eat responsibly produced meat, and I do so with awareness of what I’m doing. It’s a weird system, but it works for me.

  42. This is an old post, but I saw the meat pie and nearly cried. I’m from NB too, but now live in the US. I’ve been a carnivore all my life until my husband spoke just a few words in passing one day, and I gave it up. I won’t tell you what he said, but it was enough to steer me away from red meats and chicken. I’m a happy eater of “poisson” so long as the recipe calls for a lot of flavours and spices – I’m convinced the brain craves flavours not excess.

    I found your blog on the Freshly Pressed page. I wish you everything it takes to take on this new chapter in your life. And may many be refreshed and inspired because of you.

  43. Interesting! I’ve always been what is called a Lacto-ovo-vegetarian. As a kid, eggs were almost never eaten at home and I grew up with an inordinate greed for eggs. I wanted to eat as many as I wanted, however often I could. Now, however, after 10 years of being able to do just that, I often find myself gagging at the smell and taste of eggs, unless they are mixed into a cake.
    In India, where I live, you have so many options for vegetarians like me, and such a lot of really delicious choices, that I’ve never felt like I’ve missed out on anything. I’ve also always heard people telling me how meat makes them feel less active, less in control of their body weight and fitness than a near-pure vegetarian diet.
    Your observation of how eating some meat makes you feel much better comes as a surprise to me. I wonder if, apart from individual differences, the fact that we almost always eat freshly prepared meals, very rarely touch anything that comes from a carton or a can, etc, contributes to our feeling fitter with a vegetarian meal. Or, if it comes from some form of micro-adaptation – since my family has always been vegetarian, over successive generations, my body has adapted to making the most of a near-pure vegetarian meal?….or, could it have something to do with the fact that since we have always been this way, we have learn’t to make meals that include all the things that we know, by experience, makes us feel fittest.
    Either way, I enjoyed reading your post!

    p.s – Sorry for the duplicate entries. I posted the last comment before having finished, by mistake, and can’t find a way to delete it.

  44. What a great post and what thoughtful responses. This is very refreshing to see, especially after reading a similar post by another blogger (also linked via “7 links” as her most controversial post), who was viciously attacked in the comments section by people trying to assert their views on her.

    I am starting the journey to be a recovering vegetarian. I had been meat free for about 4 years until this summer when I delved into meat eating while abroad, since I had always said I’d eat the local cuisine. It kind of changed my perspective and i reevaluated my reasons for going veg to begin with. I have so far decided to eat (sustainable) fish once in a while, and once I make that transition I would like to move on to poultry. It’s difficult so far, since I’ve become so used to my diet, but I’m glad to see you went through the same thing successfully and have a healthy, positive attitude about it!

  45. I’m sorry but vegetarianism didn’t work for you for obvious reasons…you were eating super crappy processed vegetarian crap. i bet if you stuck to a whole foods vegan diet (and did it right), you would not be sick. please read the china study!

    • You’re right, I did eat crap when I was a vegetarian. That’s why I tried out a whole foods vegan diet 6 years into being a vegetarian.

  46. You’re fucking disgusting. Those animals didn’t ‘give their life for your health’, their lives where taken for your gluttony.

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