Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Part Time Vegetarian/Vegan?

I know I know... just writing that title opens me up to all sorts of debate but stick with me and let me explain ok?  Awesome!  This is a long wordy post...  you have been warned!

(Also, I am going to over-share in this post, go on a few random tangents about my diet and give you some honest feedback on how changing my diet has worked for me.  I am not a professional dietitian or doctor.  Please consult someone with actual training if you are looking to change your diet)

Over the past few months I have been cutting out various foods off and on to better observe how my body reacts to them.  To say that it has been eye opening is in understatement!

If you have been reading this blog or know me in real life you know that my love for all things Bacon, Cheese and Meat is a true and pure love!  Nothing says comfort to me like bacon mac n' cheese or eggs Benedict smothered in hollandaise sauce.....

So when I decided to start removing items from my diet to see what the change on my body was I was pretty quiet about it (going to Bacon's #1 fan to rocking tofu at lunch tends to raise a few eyebrows...).

Cutting dairy was one thing... being almost 32 and having acne was an issue that really messed with my head. I was very open and honest to people when I mentioned I was cutting it out. I did however, still feel the need to qualify the statement with (it's not 100% of the time and yes I still love cheese).  I felt like just cutting back on dairy was like telling my family I was now Republican and a fan of Romney!!!  If they were shocked about me cutting out dairy what would they say about me replacing turkey for chickpeas or cashew cheese instead of alfredo sauce?

The funny thing was though, that as I cut back on dairy the less I craved and missed it!  I KNOW!!  I have been on this journey for almost 4 months and no longer do I feel the need to add to cheese to many dishes. Sandwiches sans cheese, just as tasty!  Having oatmeal w/ almond milk instead of yogurt in the a.m., delicious and way more filling.  Gone are the days of 1-2 cheese sticks a day as a work snack.  Those have been replaced by bags of chopped veggies, raw nuts and hummus.

I have noticed my complexion clearing, less phlegm when I wake in the morning (over share I know..) and a HUGE reduction in stomach aches.  I had been on dairy for so much of my life that I actually just thought of my stomach aches, bad skin and bloating as normal routine.  It was only after reducing it from my diet that I noticed the discomfort when eating it.   

All of these changes in my health and complexion made me research more about what I was putting into my body.  Could I go vegetarian for 80% of my diet and really save meat and cheese dishes for special occasions?

I have never been a huge red meat person when it comes to my grocery shopping.  I thought, how big of a deal would it be to cut out chicken/meat and simple carbohydrates from my diet M-F?  I thought about going Vegan during the week since I am off dairy but honestly the thought of no 5 minute egg dinners or asking if there is butter in everything I eat sounded like to big of a step in my life right now.

The reason for making these changes is to improve my health, my mood and keep me at a healthy weight.  Stressing myself out over whether something is vegan or not is really not my goal now.  Baby steps!

Sooo what does this all mean for my life, my diet and the blog?  Good stuff I hope!  I plan on being a vegetarian (almost vegan) Monday through Friday.  The weekends I will try to also be meat/dairy free but I am not going to limit myself at family functions, dinners out with friends or food festivals throughout the year.  I want to really savor and enjoy those times when I eat meat or cheese instead of making them part of the norm in my diet.

I fully expect to stumble on this... Even today I had a work lunch where the  only protein was deli meat.  Instead of making a sandwich with meat and cheese I opted for a GIANT salad with a small portion of turkey deli meat.  The upside was that I didn't have the mid-afternoon slump that a heavy carb/meat lunch usually brings on.

For you my readers it means more recipes made with simple whole food ingredients that capture the textures and tastes of classic cheesey/meat dishes without all the heaviness....

Thank you for taking the time to read through my brain dump on this topic! I have spent A LOT of time the past few months thinking about this and am really excited to make these small changes in my diet!

Now it is your turn, does any of what I wrote here resonate in your life?  Have you tried cutting out certain foods to see there effect on your system?  Do you see yourself cutting out meat or dairy even one day a week?  Are you concerned what friends and family would think?