It doesn’t come up often. One would think that after 30+ years, I would get tired of talking about it. It’s inevitable though that whenever we have people over for dinner, or when I’m discussing nutrition with clients, I end up talking about my vegetarian lifestyle and plant-based diet.
It seems absurd to most people or, at least, they’re surprised. They react as though I told them I don’t believe in wearing shoes. Or that I sleep in a tent instead of a bed. “Really? How come?” This is normally followed by, “I couldn’t do it.”
There’s no “real” answer to why I don’t eat meat and follow a plant-based diet. I have my own personal reasons, just as every other vegetarian has theirs. So, if you’re “craving” to know my response to the various questions I get…please read on.
1. How do you get your protein?
Before I address protein sources, it’s important to know how much protein we generally need each day. Depending on your resource, this exact number varies. As a fitness professional, I tend to stick with 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. You can click here to calculate your protein needs based on your gender, height, weight and fitness goals. My top protein sources include oatmeal, nut butters, spinach, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, black beans and chickpeas. Some of my favorite, high protein products include Banza Chickpea Pasta, Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Plant Protein, Quest Nutrition protein bars and BCAAs.
2. Aren’t you deficient in certain vitamins and minerals?
When I look at what the average American consumes, it amazes me that there is so much sodium and so much sugar in the processed foods commonly consumed on a daily basis. They are calorie-laden and lacking nutrients. As a whole, we should focus on nutrient-dense foods that will heal and energize our bodies naturally. With a plant-based diet, however, it is important to pay attention to omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, zinc, iodine, iron and B vitamin levels. Fortunately, according to routine blood work, my cholesterol and glucose levels have always been within a healthy range and I am not deficient in anything. My blood pressure has always been within a healthy range as well. Whether you consume a plant-based diet or not, consider using a multivitamin to ensure you are getting your recommended daily value.
3. Do you ever crave a big, juicy burger?
My best way to tackle this question is to put it in terms others can understand. I’ll say “name a food that you dislike.” For some people, it’s peanut butter. For others, it’s Brussels sprouts. Take a moment. Did you think of something? Do you want to eat some of it right now? Didn’t think so.
4. Why are you a vegetarian?
I don’t like meat. It’s as simple as that. I’ve never liked it. It’s not for weight loss reasons. It’s not because I’m an advocate of animal rights. Ask my mom about her memories of my childhood meals and she will describe vivid details of “dancing” (she called it dancing, though in my mind it was skipping, hopping, jumping) that I did around the kitchen to avoid eating the “two bites” of whatever meat was on the table. It didn’t matter if it was chicken, steak, ham…I didn’t know the difference. It was all “meat.” Somehow, I survived on the two-piece-meat diet and stand strong at nearly 6 feet tall. Thank goodness for the “pinch your nose so you can’t taste it” trick, followed by a glass of (chugged) milk. I was also a big fan of Heinz 57 sauce. Though, any benefit of the meat I consumed was probably negated by the salt and sugar of the sauce I drenched it in.
Determining If Vegetarianism Is For You
The purpose of this blog isn’t to convince you to “go meatless” or become “plant powered.” My goal, through personal experience and education, is to provide you with the resources you need to to understand why some people are vegetarian. Maybe it’s for you, maybe not. I do not push this lifestyle on others and make the occasional meatloaf.
If you’re one who can’t get over your fixation with meat, you’re welcome at our house anytime where my Grill Master husband will eagerly prepare dinner for an equally carnivorous loving person.
Have you ever considered a plant-based diet? Why or why not? Comment below; I’d love to know!
For more information about my 12-Week Online Fitness Program, click here.