When I decided to try vegetarianism exactly 2,000 days ago today, it was an experiment to see how I would feel by eliminating from my diet the toxins in most of the meat I was eating at the time.
When I felt great without meat in my diet, I decided to extend my experiment indefinitely. Now 5.5 years later, being a vegetarian has become a way of life for me and there is no looking back. To continue reading this post, click here >>
How do I feel? I feel strong, I have great stamina and energy, I never get sick and I stay lean which, in turn, helps me perform better in my sports. Plus I am doing some good for the planet by not contributing in any way to the massive environmental damage done by the meat production industry.
During my vegetarian (and subsequent vegan) years I have enjoyed some wonderful vegetarian cooking. My wife, Chay, is an amazing chef and my palate hasn’t suffered an ounce. She has cooked wonderful meals using a wide variety of vegetables, many I wouldn’t have thought to use myself. Plus I have learned to love foods that I never ate or enjoyed before. As I have written before, I now crave foods that I didn’t appreciate before such as spinach, celery, sweet potatoes and hemp.
What about nutrition? The main knock on the vegetarian diet is that it lacks essential nutrients and that, in time, vegetarians become weak or ill.
An old friend who ran into me recently exclaimed you look so healthy, how can you be a vegetarian and not be anemic? I say this not to boast in any way, but to point out that a lot of the confusion around being a vegetarian has to do with misinformation and poor education about food. Only a small percentage of the population are vegetarians, but I am convinced that more people would eliminate or significantly reduce consumption of animal and meat products if they knew what they were eating and the impacts on their health and longevity.
Protein has been easy both by eating protein rich foods and recognizing that eating too much protein is not good for me in the first place.
As I enjoy exercising multiple times on most days, I regularly supplement with vegan protein shakes and multivitamins to make sure I am getting enough of everything that I need. It is probably not necessary, but it is a habit I’ve had since I started training in my early twenties.
Commitment. A lot of people are surprised and fascinated by my resolve not to eat even a little meat (which by the way is easy once you understand nutrition and what meat contains) or why I don’t eat organic to grass fed meat. Organic meat is surely less bad and frankly, I doubt that eating a little meat would be that bad even if it was the regular store bought kind. We are exposed to all sorts to toxins all day long so a little probably would be fine.
Eating or not eating meat is a choice. We can live either way. Thriving may be a different story, but for me complete abstinence is for the most part a convenience thing. I have made a commitment and it is more convenient for me to eat no meat than worry about which cuts are clean or how much is too much.
I am also often asked if I will ever eat dead animals again ever and my response is similar to most committed vegetarians. For instance, my family doctor, who has been a vegetarian for about 35 years, once told me he wouldn’t ever eat meat again simply because he didn’t need to and it would be too weird. I realize everyone is different and some try going veg and don’t like the results. I can’t imagine going back at this stage either and don’t see the need.
Of course I am not close minded and if I ever felt my diet was hurting me in any way, I’d switch. I am open to changing my opinion in the face of facts (this is not an invite to email me silly articles about how cavemen evolved by eating meat – this is 2010 after all).
Right now it’s all systems go and I am sure I will be singing he same tune at 3,000 days.