My Fourth of July celebrations always include barbecue, but not this year. I made the leap to a vegetarian diet on May 23. I’m already seeing benefits from the move, which has given me the willpower to remain meat-free. It was tested on the most popular holiday for grilling in the U.S., during which 88% of Americans chow down on meat, steak, or both.
I had planned to give up meat last summer, but my carnivorous inclinations won out. It was easier than I expected this time around to break my daily vice, in large part because of the pandemic. Meat is harder to come by and more expensive, and I don’t dine out, so there’s less temptation. Meat alternatives have also soared in popularity, making a plant-based burger just a fast food joint away, as Vox recently noted. In the U.S., 41% of Americans have tried plant-based meats, which Vox said were virtually unheard of a year ago.
My aches aren’t nearly as bad since the change in diet, which can aid pain management by reducing inflammation, as the Cleveland Clinic pointed out. Chronic pain is common in sarcoidosis, which is an inflammatory disease. Filling up with fruits, vegetables, and whole grains also helps musculoskeletal pain and function, according to a study titled “Chronic musculoskeletal pain and function improve with a plant-based diet,” published in the journal Complementary Therapies in Medicine in 2018.
To my surprise, I’ve also gained weight, which I’ve been struggling to do for years. Losing weight was my biggest concern with going meatless, so the extra seven pounds is welcome. Instead of just drinking water, I added smoothies to my daily diet, which has likely helped.
Not everything has gone smoothly though. I’m experiencing more fatigue and brain fog since making the move, which may be the result of my own missteps. I initially focused on getting enough protein, calcium, and vitamin D, but failed to take into account other nutrients that vegetarian and vegan diets lack. Adequate intake of vitamin B12, omega-3 fatty acids, iodine, iron, and zinc also require attention, the Mayo Clinic warns.
Last week, I started taking a multivitamin with omega-3, which hopefully will help me rebound. I also made the switch to soy milk, which provides 50% of the recommended daily intake of B12.
There are a variety of vegetarian diets, which the Mayo Clinic details. I’m currently following the lacto-ovo vegetarian diet, which permits dairy products and eggs but excludes meat, fish, and poultry.
Brighter side: We all could use a break from bad news right now. So, I’ll be closing my columns with a roundup of positivity until we are able to say goodbye to masks, hug our loved ones, and leave our homes without fear.
- Virtual sarcoidosis education: The Foundation for Sarcoidosis Research is changing this year’s Patient Education Summits to a virtual format, which means no travel and more accessibility. Two day-long events will be held online in September and November. Sarcoidosis warriors will still be able to network on the virtual platform, which enables them to see and chat with each other. The change was made in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Purr-fect benefit: For $12 you can watch cute cats and help a struggling independent movie theater at the same time. The Row House Cinema in Pittsburgh has launched the Quarantine Cat Film Festival, a compilation of cat videos filmed during COVID-19 quarantines. When tickets are purchased through a participating theater’s Virtual Cinema link, The Row House receives 50% from the sale. To view the list of theaters and purchase tickets, click here.
Note: Sarcoidosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Sarcoidosis News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to sarcoidosis.
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