The Highs and Lows of Becoming a Vegetarian Last Year

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by Athena Merritt |

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My memory is terrible. But I can vividly recall hovering over a rib-eye steak in a restaurant last February telling a lie.

It only took a forkful for it to slide out. And a few more bites to convince myself it would forever be true. I said I would never give up meat. Well, readers, this Sunday marks my one-year anniversary as a vegetarian. 

There have been highs and lows over the journey, which a medium-rare cut of beef nearly kept me from ever taking. But I’m happy I stuck with it for the sake of my sarcoidosis and health.  

According to research released this month at the European Congress on Obesity, vegetarians are healthier than meat eaters. That holds true regardless of the study participants’ age, weight, smoking status, and alcohol consumption. That’s pretty compelling news to someone on the hunt to obtain wellness.

Leaving meat for better days

I originally planned to ease into the change over a period of weeks. But after going meatless for a day, I just decided to stick to it for as long as I could. I’m shocked it’s been 12 months. 

The first noticeable benefit was less overall pain. The second was that I put on weight. The 7-pound gain helped me finally take my 5-foot-9-inch frame back into the 140s, which I’ve maintained. Much like any diet, whether you lose or gain will depend on what and how much you eat. So, don’t let weight worries hold you back if you are considering the move to fruits and vegetables. 

The meal planning also provided an unintended benefit. It kept me from becoming bored during lockdowns. When I first made the switch, I just swapped out meat for vegetables in my usual dishes. That only reminded me of the poultry, pork, beef, and seafood I was missing. So, I started learning new recipes and making up my own. My black bean burgers remain my favorite. 

More recently, I’ve had periods without cognitive struggles. I picked up a book I had last read two years ago and remembered the plot lines. I was ecstatic, because for more than a decade now, I’ve had to reread and rewatch series to refresh my memory before finales. I’m hoping this upward trend continues because my brain fog was initially worse. 

The downsides of saying goodbye to meat

The transition hasn’t been easy, though. Eating is more of a chore now because I must worry about consuming enough calories. And getting the proper amount of nutrients requires careful planning, as the Mayo Clinic explains.

I’ve also battled more fatigue, something that continues. But the hardest part is that even with a year under my belt, I still want to sink my teeth into all those things I gave up. 

In the future I may decide to move to a less restrictive diet. But for now, I’m hanging in there to see where this leads in my efforts for better health. 

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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.

  • A winning share: The Dutch football team Ajax came up with a cool way to celebrate their Eredivisie title with fans. They melted down the trophy to make 42,390 individual stars to give to season ticket holders, according to ESPN.
  • Cup of knowledge: McDonald’s is redesigning its coffee cups to spread awareness about COVID-19 vaccines, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. It’s part of an effort the fast-food chain will begin in July to help promote the White House and Department of Health and Human Services’ “We Can Do This” campaign.
  • Professional nappers wanted: If you like to nap, you have until May 31 to apply for a paying position to snooze. Eachnight, which provides mattress reviews and information on sleep, is hiring five people to serve as “nap reviewers” for 30 days. Daily participation is required for the dream job, which pays $1,500 upon conclusion. For more information, click here.

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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, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to sarcoidosis.

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