After finishing off all the meat in the house and every possible meat dish at favorite restaurants (and some I just happened to go to for the first time), I actually began to eat what others might consider a vegetarian diet. I prefer calling it vegetable-centered, but whatever. I’ve lost the weight initially gained going veg and another 10 lbs. There has been no loss of energy or other discernable negatives — no craving for meat, no blurred vision, no lack of strength or stamina. I haven’t gone bald or caught cold.
It helps that my lovely wife, Kelly, gave up meat many years ago and is well-versed in finding delicious, healthy alternatives. So, I’m eating well and enjoying what I eat. Things taste better in that I am more open to new flavors and different types of vegetables, grains, and legumes. Let’s face it, almost everything I eat is new because I used to eat only a few vegetables, white bread and no beans or legumes, except in chili.
Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t just wake up and want to eat all this new stuff. It was more like, no meat on the plate, huh? Well then, who cares what you put in front of me. I’m hungry and have to eat something. Quick chews, big swallows, and done.
Then, as I learned to eat more slowly, flavors started to emerge. Kelly gradually introduces more spice and variety. Things like Swiss chard even became palatable. My appetite became more complex until now, several months into this, I’m a much more adventurous eater.
Does that mean I’ve stopped missing meat? No, I have my moments of crisis. We recently went to a Caribbean restaurant that features a beautiful, spicy vegetable medley and Cuban sandwiches. Cubans are (oops, were) my favorite sandwich, ham and roasted pork with cheese and spice . . . sorry, I digress. So, I dutifully ordered the veggie medley, but when the smell of a Cuban from two tables over wafted into range, I nearly lost it. Happily, the medley really was delicious.
I never wanted to stop eating meat and I still want to eat meat. For me, it was a matter of healthier choices and I am feeling healthier. No heavy tummy after dinner, no lethargy after a meal. I’m down two pants sizes and get less tired when exercising. Giving up meat will be a journey, not a destination. Maybe not eating meat will become normal, but I doubt it. There were always be an empty place that only good barbeque or a Cuban sandwich could fill. Fortunately, there are many new foods I will enjoy in the time to come that I might never have tried if my plate stayed full of meat.
If making healthy diet choices were easy, I wouldn’t have had to make the choice. I’d have been making healthy choices all along.
Aging in Place, it doesn’t happen by accident and you don’t always get to do what you want. But you may get what you need and it may be pretty good after all.