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My Meatless Diet

 

A close friend of mine recently told me that although she has been a carnivore all of her life, she is starting to consider a meatless diet and wanted my thoughts on the subject.

Of course I took the time to talk to her in full detail and of course I decided that our conversation made for a great blog post.

my meatless diet

Why did you give up meat and poultry again? I forget. And did you do it cold turkey?

I didn’t mean to become a meatless eater. I came down with a stomach virus in January 2012 and it hit me hard. I couldn’t return to normal eating at first and actually, never did.

During the recovery time, I was eating lots of oatmeal, sweet potatoes, and vegetarian type foods. It was a subconscious switch away from eating my usual lunch and dinner plates which were always so focused on chicken, turkey or steak.

I quickly noticed though that I felt great without eating those animal proteins so I decided to run with it (ha, no pun intended) and never looked back.

So I guess you can say yes, I gave up meat and poultry rather cold turkey but that was not my intention. It just sort of happened.

Are you a vegetarian?

I am not a true vegetarian because I will eat sushi on occasion and order fish (shrimp or ahi tuna) in restaurants if nothing else is available on the menu for me to eat. Does that make me a pescatarian? I suppose but I can go MONTHS without touching fish.

I am not a vegan but eggs and dairy don’t play a major role in my diet either. I go through major phases of wanting pizza or greek salads but can go for weeks at a time focusing on plant-based foods instead.

However, I will never give up my favorite desserts so dairy will always be in my diet!

But where do you get your protein?

Protein isn’t hard to find in a meatless diet, I swear! Dinner is probably the main meal where you may notice your chicken or steak missing from your plate but replacing it with meatless sources of protein can be done.

meatless sources of protein

I do not eat tofu or tempeh often at all. I used to buy meatless meatballs and chickenless products but stopped at some point because they were so processed. I think I miss the meatless meatballs from Trader Joe’s though so maybe I will pick them up again to have in the house.

Are you full and satisfied from your diet?

My answer is yes… and no.

For the most part, yes I am satisfied and happy but I would be lying if I didn’t admit that there are times when I still feel hungry yet my stomach is physically full.

Like, I still need something but I don’t know what that something is and reaching for more vegetables is not going to help me, it will only make my stomach feel worse at this point.

Protein (and fat) is what satisfies the appetite and although I may “meet” my daily protein requirement, there are times when a serving of chick peas are not going to satisfy the same way a serving of chicken would. I don’t mean about flavor, I mean that level of satisfaction inside that says, I’m full.

I have weeks of feeling unsatisfied and weeks on end where I am fine. I go through phases on this.

Do you have cravings? How do you handle them?

I have yet to crave chicken or turkey which is weird considering I lived on both for over 30 years of my life.

There have been times when I have craved a hamburger or steak to the point where I can’t stop picturing them in my head but I have learned that these meat cravings occur when I need more protein so I typically satisfy the protein need with eggs or fish and the craving  instantly disappears.

Did you notice any health benefits when switching to a meatless diet?

Yes! The decrease in animal protein combined with an increase in plant-based foods produced some amazing effects:

*More energy for running/increase in pace and endurance immediately

*Quicker muscle recovery

*Improved menstrual cramps <- Plant-based foods work wonders for me in this area. Now, if I consume too many eggs/dairy products, I feel the effects during my time of the month.

*Lighter periods

*Seasonal allergies gone!

*Food allergies almost all gone (remember I had oral allergy syndrome)

*Eczema in the winter on my eyelids gone!

*Shingles nerve pain which lingered for years gone!

Honestly, the health benefits and positive side effects of giving up meat and poultry are the main reason I see myself sticking with this meatless lifestyle. Overall, I just feel terrific. The fact that my seasonal allergies are gone, that I no longer need to take a daily allergy pill, is seriously enough for me to eat this way for the rest of my life!

Do you have trouble dining out with others and/or finding something to eat in restaurants?

I do not have trouble 99.9% of the time. I always seem able to find something on a menu. At worst, I just request salads  without the chicken or put together a bunch of side dishes to create a meal.

How do you handle cooking for others who still eat chicken and meat?

I am totally fine with still preparing chicken dishes and making steak whenever my son wants it. I try to coordinate cuisine flavors between what I am eating with what I am making him to cut down on kitchen time but it doesn’t always happen. It’s fine though, my dinners require very little prep.

My favorites:

Build Your Own Plant Based Power Bowl <- one of my most popular posts and pins

Meatless Stir-Fry Bowls

Italian Style Power Bowl

My Meatless Diet #meatlessmonday #vegetarian #meatless #powerbowl #fitfluential @healthyskoop… Click To Tweet

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What type of diet do you typically follow?

Do you ever crave the foods you no longer eat?

Best thing you ate over the weekend?

 

 

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  • Susie @ SuzLyfe October 19, 2015, 6:59 am

    I have several days a week where I go mostly, if not entirely meatless. I have definitely reduced my consumption, which I think is critical. But I truly couldn’t go entirely meatless because I’m not so good with beans…
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    • The Cookie ChRUNicles October 20, 2015, 12:58 pm

      I do okay with chick peas and black beans but I can see how a bean-focused diet could be a problem!

  • Liz @ I Heart Vegetables October 19, 2015, 7:29 am

    I don’t crave meat, but I think I know what you mean about being full but not satisfied. It’s easy to just eat a lot of carbs as a vegetarian so I have to make sure I’m adding in some fat and protein or else I end up snacking like a crazy person haha
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  • Lesq October 19, 2015, 8:16 am

    You are AWESOME!! Have a great week!!

  • Alyssa @ Renaissancerunnergirl October 19, 2015, 8:20 am

    I am gluten and nut free (and avocado and orange free but those are weirder allergies) – not by choice, but I don’t crave those foods since most of them I can’t remember ever eating, many of my allergies I’ve known of since I was little. For the past two weeks though I’ve had to cut back on dairy and other grains due to stomach issues, now that is really tough for me! I love my ice cream and yogurt and cheese.
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    • The Cookie ChRUNicles October 20, 2015, 12:57 pm

      i can understand how tough that must be! I wouldn’t want to have to cut back on my favorites either.

  • Michele @ paleorunningmomma October 19, 2015, 8:22 am

    It’s funny how you sort of “know” when a way you’re eating just works better with your body! I definitely can’t go meatless, I’ve tried in the past and have felt awful. That said, occasionally cravings happen but at this point I know what I need to eat to feel my best.
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    • The Cookie ChRUNicles October 20, 2015, 12:56 pm

      It’s so important to be able to pay attention to cravings while also remembering how giving in to them can make you feel. Sometimes it’s not worth satisfying the craving and better to figure out an alternate food that can satisfy us without negative side effects.

  • Lisa @ Running Out of Wine October 19, 2015, 8:27 am

    I find this so interesting because I would have probably asked you these questions if we were hanging out and talking about food! Sometimes I think I rely too much on meat. Honestly I think I could cut back but when I’m cooking for Rob and I he is really set on including it in meals- I think its mostly mental though, like if there’s no meat it won’t be as satisfying to him. I do think it would be interesting to play around with cutting back on meat and trying to use other sources of protein. Do you think there would be any noticeable benefits to cutting back rather than cutting it out completely?
    Lisa @ Running Out of Wine recently posted…Route 66 Marathon Training Week 11My Profile

    • The Cookie ChRUNicles October 19, 2015, 8:30 am

      I absolutely do. I didn’t want to make this post too long but I did tell my friend that she did not need to cut back altogether and completely eliminate animal protein from her diet. If you are looking to maybe consider cutting back, my advice would be to try cutting it back at lunch and keep it at dinner. Or, try going meatless at dinner a few nights a week. You can still cook for Rob and just give yourself a different protein source along with your side dishes. We can discuss this further if you want – email me! There are definitely noticeable health benefits from just cutting back without completely eliminating.

  • Jamie October 19, 2015, 9:24 am

    I’m totally vegetarian (almost completely vegan but I do eat eggs)… And every so often I have a craving for a meatball grinder but like you, I usually am just craving the fat so if I eat a bit heavier carb/fat meal, my cravings usually go away!
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    • The Cookie ChRUNicles October 20, 2015, 12:55 pm

      Some weeks I am totally vegetarian, some weeks totally vegan and then suddenly I have sushi and I am a pescatarian lol. So funny how it goes but yes, figuring out how to satisfy what the body craves is key to handling the random meat cravings. Hasn’t happened to me in months which is good!

  • Amanda @ .running with spoons. October 19, 2015, 9:49 am

    I’ve never been crazy about meat, so giving it up has always been super easy. I really hate it when people make such unfair assumptions about going meat-free without even giving it a shot. Like… I have friends and family who’ll put down a meal that doesn’t have meat and automatically assume it won’t be satisfying without even trying it. Drives.me.nuts.
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    • The Cookie ChRUNicles October 20, 2015, 12:54 pm

      I always wonder why anyone cares what someone else eats. Why does it matter to them so long as they eat what they want?

  • Anne October 19, 2015, 9:50 am

    I am vegan, and I do not crave or miss anything animal-derived. When I think about how much better I look and feel after adopting a plant-based diet, I’ll never go back! I gave up eating meat and anything prepared with it when I started undergrad–I never liked it, and since my mom wasn’t cooking for me anymore, I just stopped eating it. A few years later, I gave up poultry. As a graduate student, I started reading a lot of those books on where food comes from, how it’s produced, etc., and I decided that I did not want to support that. After poultry, I decided to give up dairy as well, which I thought might be difficult, but surprisingly, it hasn’t been (I actually never liked milk in the first place, so that was never a problem!). I am very satisfied on a plant-based diet–I eat tons of vegetables and beans, and they’re very filling. When I think about all the benefits–my skin cleared up, I lost weight, I have more energy, etc.–I don’t ever want to go back to eating animal products. Sometimes I have a hard time finding stuff at restaurants but if I check out the menu beforehand, I can usually find something or ask the restaurant to make sure the food is prepared according to my preferences. It’s hard going home to visit family as they don’t understand (and honestly, just don’t like) my diet. They say there’s no way I can get protein if I’m not eating meat and dairy, and although I’ve explained that there are other ways to get it, they don’t buy it. Oh, well–although others don’t always understand it, I’ve figured out what works for me!:)

    • The Cookie ChRUNicles October 20, 2015, 12:53 pm

      I know, so many people don’t understand and always need some sort of explanation which can get really annoying!

  • Gretchen | Gretchruns October 19, 2015, 10:51 am

    This is a really interesting post! I would also say that I’m mostly following a plant-based diet. like you, I just feel better when I eat those types of foods. I do eat meat on occasion, but I just eat what I feel like and what makes me feel the best and don’t really have a label for it. Thanks for sharing!
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    • The Cookie ChRUNicles October 20, 2015, 12:52 pm

      I think it’s best to eat what you feel like, there’s no reason to really cut out foods for good unless there’s an allergy/intolerance. I told my friend she didn’t need to give up animal protein completely, maybe just cut it back to where she is comfortable.

  • Shannon October 19, 2015, 1:27 pm

    Protein is the biggest misconception with vegetarian diets. I don’t ever miss eating meat. I don’t crave it at all, and I don’t know if I will ever want to eat it again. I love following a plant based diet!
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    • The Cookie ChRUNicles October 20, 2015, 12:51 pm

      I love focusing on plant-based foods for sure. I haven’t had a meat craving in months and when I have them, I can usually satisfy my appetite in another way.

  • Heather@hungryforbalance October 19, 2015, 2:30 pm

    Very interesting! I find myself craving protein and fat in the fall and winter and vegetarian meals in the spring and summer. We usually eat vegetarian most days of the week and we don’t do diary. It makes me break out and gives my husband weird BO (TMI?).
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    • The Cookie ChRUNicles October 20, 2015, 12:50 pm

      Dairy can be a tricky thing for most people and sometimes we don’t even realize what a food/food group does to the body until we give it up/cut it back.

  • Arman @ thebigmansworld October 19, 2015, 7:01 pm

    Absolutely perfect timing- I was just discussing with Alexis how I’m keen to try eating meat free for a period of time- You hit the nail on the head though- The satisfaction thing. When I went vegan for a month to create recipes for my readers, I felt ‘full’ but still hungry too!
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    • The Cookie ChRUNicles October 20, 2015, 12:49 pm

      Yeah so that’s the only downside – sometimes I am still hungry or at least I think so, but feel full. Overall though, I love the way I eat and feel best following this type of lifestyle.

  • Meghan@CleanEatsFastFeets October 20, 2015, 6:57 am

    I’m probably what you would call a 95% vegetarian. I could count on one hand the number of times I’ve eaten meat in the last five years, although four of those times happened in the last six months. Ha.
    I don’t ever feel like I’m missing something or not quite satisfied though, and that’s probably because meat has never been a big deal for me. As a kid, I would blatantly refuse to eat it, much to my parents chagrin. I never really accepted the texture of it so meat substitutes are out for me too.
    That being said, if I do have a random craving, I will indulge it. Plus I eat plenty of cheese and eggs, so dairy will always be a part of my life too.

    Just for kicks, I listened to a Podcast last night on going plant based and the science supports lower risk of several cancers, lower cholesterol, and lower blood pressure as health benefits of a mostly plant based. It’s kind of the shit.

    Great post.
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    • The Cookie ChRUNicles October 20, 2015, 10:57 am

      The studies and findings related to a plant based diet are fascinating. I do believe in the benefits and positive health effects for sure!

  • Laura @ This Runner's Recipes October 20, 2015, 1:51 pm

    Such an interesting post! I eat vegetarian for about 2/3 of my diet, but I’ve found that completely meatless just does not work for me. I wish it did since I love the idea of a fully plant-based diet and I tried it years ago but had health problems while on it (even when I made sure to eat enough protein and iron). Sometimes beans and dairy are just too much for my system as well, so for now, I eat a good balance of beans, yogurt, eggs, and meat/fish for my protein.
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  • Alaina @ The Simple Peach October 20, 2015, 2:34 pm

    I was a vegetarian for almost two years and over the last couple months have added chicken and turkey back into my diet because of health concerns. I am still plant centric and eat lots of meals without meat. Everyone is different and labels aren’t a one size fits all. My performance is directly linked to what I eat. Plants keep me running, but my body needs a little chicken too. I also still always choose vegetarian if I can when I eat out.
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  • Dani @ Dani California Cooks October 20, 2015, 2:57 pm

    I really enjoyed reading this! A few months ago, I started focusing on more plant-based and fish proteins, and I’ve noticed a huge difference in energy. I do so much better around 4pm when I have a lighter, vegan meal for lunch than a huge salad with handfuls and handfuls of chicken!
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  • rachel @ Athletic Avocado October 25, 2015, 6:02 pm

    great informative post! Im not a vegetarian but I only eat meat 2-3 times per week and i often get my protein from beans and quinoa. i like how you prove that meatless can still be nutritious!
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