I confess, I learned a lot through my mistakes over the years adjusting to the vegetarian lifestyle as a teenager and an adult. Now that I’ve settled into a way of eating that supports my lifestyle, I love it! There are so many places, now, to find great meat-free recipes online that I am never bored or tired of my options!
Hopefully this will enlighten you before choosing to try out the lifestyle 🙂
You will have weird cravings.
I know I did, and still do when my life is hectic, I’m stressed, or I lose track of time and don’t eat right! When you stop eating meat as your main source of protein, your body will send off weird craving signals. More often than not, you should be reaching for a substitute like nuts, or beans, or dairy. Many times, though, you don’t recognize these cravings as ones for protein and end up grabbing something filled with carbs or sugar for immediate satisfaction. (peanut butter toast and Jelly Belly Sours have both been my go-tos LOL) But this is a BIG MISTAKE.
Keep track of what you’re eating each day, and don’t let too much time go by before you have a heathy snack or mini-meal. Keep an apple, a handful of almonds, or a few cuts of celery in your purse for when you’re in a pinch. And be sure to make an effort to add a pure source of protein in each meal. You have to be proactive, or you’ll be perpetually hungry and miserable!
You’ll lean on carbs and sugar.
Without meat in your diet, what is left to fill up on? Vegetables, carbs, fruits, and dairy. Fruits and vegetables should make up the greatest percentage of your food. More often than not, though, they don’t. Why? Because you have to eat a ridiculous amount of them to feel full. It seems weird to pile broccoli high on your dinner plate, so you lean on a slice of bread, a cup of pasta, or a bowl of rice to feel full and give you a boost of energy. It’s a vicious cycle. In the end, you’ll gain weight, feel lethargic, and deprive your body of what nutrients it really needs.
Don’t be afraid to eat more than you used to before going vegetarian. Make your plates full and colorful. Have heaping portions of those vegetables. It will feel strange at first, but you will be full and satisfied!
You may drag at the gym and have a hard time getting lean.
This new diet can definitely leave you dragging at the gym if you aren’t careful. Sometimes I left feeling lightheaded, weak, and wondering why I couldn’t make it through the full hour class without feeling like I’d fall over. Without protein and other healthy, natural sources of energy and fat-burning foods, you may not power through your workout the with the same vigor, or even see the same toned results, as before going vegetarian.
I found work-arounds in soy, peanut butter, yogurt, green tea with matcha, and the occasional protein supplement. Try incorporating a few of these options in your diet, and see what works best for you!