Week 10, Day 5: The Past 31 Days of My Life, As A Vegetarian

In early June I was asked to join a friend on their no meat / alcohol challenge starting July 5th. The last time I went meat free was in 2007 and I just ended up eating a lot of sweets and carbs and not losing any weight lol. This time, I decided to follow through with it, just to give me something different to do diet wise as well as a personal challenge to myself. Let me tell you how great the last 31 days have been, and how happy I am that they are over.

On a regular day, I don’t eat too much meat to begin with. A normal day consists of 4-5 slices of turkey bacon for breakfast, baked chicken breast/thighs for lunch, and a piece of salmon for dinner as my total meat consumption. I rarely include red meat or pork into my diet, so a vegetarian diet wasn’t going to be too much of a shock to the system. However, where this was going to be most effective was in my cheat meals. Yes, we all break diet and go for a quick cheat meal. For me it was usually fast food, either fried chicken or a hamburger. This is where the no meat challenge would affect me the most; whenever I would have a craving to cheat, I couldn’t just roll up to any burger joint.

The no alcohol part for this isn’t a problem at all. Since I gave up (social) drinking, I’ve only had 1 instance of alcohol consumption, and that was actually the day before this challenge started (on the 4th of July). Drinking in general just doesn’t work for me; drinking never stops at just one drink, being drunk makes me crave the worst fast food, and it usually leaves me hungover and tired in the morning. I was more than happy to agree to not drinking for the next 31 days, as I’m probably not having another drink until my birthday in October (the day after the marathon).

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As far as the diet is concerned, I decided to take out the meat I was eating and just substitute with a fruit or some tofu. I don’t like to overcomplicate meals, so the simpler the better. For breakfast I had my usual 8oz egg whites scrambled with jalapeños & mushrooms, and topped with organic salsa. The difference with this diet is I substituted the turkey bacon with half of a large red grapefruit. For lunch, I would drink a protein shake with almond milk, and also eat a romaine blend salad with olive oil & vinegar dressing. For dinner it was usually pan fried tofu seasoned with red pepper flakes and other spices to make it hot, and then either steamed broccoli or sautéed spinach or both! This is how each and every day went… for the most part.

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During the last 31 days, I’ve taken a few road trips and went out to eat a few times, so I had to have solid options while on the road. Luckily most sit down restaurants have plenty of vegetarian options, and tofu can be substituted for meat. In SW Ohio I stopped at a Korean restaurant and instead of dining on seafood and beef like I would usually do at such a place, I had tofu bibimbap instead. On another night, I went out to eat with friends at a mexican restaurant here in Columbus, and opted for their Vegetarian Combo (Cheese chile relleno with Ranchero sauce & Veggie enchilada, rolled in a homemade blue corn tortilla and topped with Ranchero sauce). It would’ve been easy to just eat a burger or some chicken, but it’s much more gratifying to stick to the plan.

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This somewhat drastic change in my diet made me feel less bloated, but also more tired. I think most days I was either not consuming enough calories, or the marathon training was getting the best of me (we’re halfway through btw, stay tuned for a post about that). The biggest drawback was the cravings; I didn’t eat fast food, but I caught myself eating more carbs than usual. Whether a sofritas burrito from Chipotle, or some fantastic avocado kimbap rolls, or an occasional bagel from Tim Hortons, there was definitely more carb consumption than on my traditional diet. Overall, I lost 15 pounds in the past 31 days.

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To conclude the 31 day challenge, I went and got a Banana Avocado Cacao bowl from a local juice bar. This was my first time eating something like this, so I didn’t know what to expect. It tasted more like dessert than anything, but it was a good way to cap the last 31 days. I learned that I don’t like tofu as much as I thought, and even though I don’t really need chicken or turkey bacon, I love salmon more than I thought and I’ll be introducing that back in my diet immediately. I’m going to hold off on the chicken and beef, as I don’t want to cause any digestion problems due to digestive shock lol.

Are you a vegetarian? What could I have done different? Have you tried to go vegetarian before? How was it? Leave a comment and let me know

One comment

  1. Nichelle says:

    So I’ve been vegetarian for about 5 months now and I agree that the bloating went away almost the same week that I removed meat from my diet. I will say that what saves me when I’m not in a cooking mood is the vegetable steam bags bc they’re super convenient and filling. Also if I really crave the texture of beef then I’ll grab a bag of Beyond Beef crumbles or burgers and it tastes verrrry similar.

    Thanks for the post though, it was a good read!

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