Not too long ago I posted my summer highlights, the most radical of which was my decision to go vegetarian. Since then, I’ve had friends and readers ask me what made me do it, what kind of food I eat now, and if I can share some tips and whatnots. Note that while I do work in the medical field, I will not speak here as your health coach. Consult your primary care doctor first if you have health issues or dietitian to guide you in your meal planning. After all, we are responsible for our own health, not Dr. Oz or Google.
Okay so what made me ditch the carnivore life? See I’m not a huge meat eater to begin with and in time, I kind of lost the taste for chicken and steak. Call it psychological but even those fast food ads with ginormous patty make me puke. Then comes my trigyleride level. Despite my seemingly active lifestyle, I was disappointed to see it it on the high side. Sure I can blame my birth control pills (it’s a side effect), but deep in my heart I just want to be a lot healthier. C’mon you know I’m not getting any younger!
Was it hard to become a vegetarian? surprisingly no but it’s the fear of the unknown which makes it a challenge. I’m still a work in progress (I’ve only been on this route for almost four months) but let me tell you, coupled with exercise, I’ve never felt this great and motivated! So without further adieu, let me share some tips in case you’re planning to become one…
1) It’s not a race so don’t rush yourself to be the next big thing! Transition slowly by introducing more vegetables and fruits to your diet. I started by replacing meat with seafood, then less of it, then adios. It was a total sacrifice because I love salmon, crabs and shrimps. I thought I won’t survive but here I am, still breathing the same air you do.
2) Research, decide and stay in your lane. As you may already know, vegetarians are different from vegans (the latter being a lot stricter because they don’t use or wear any products derived from animal and its byproducts). There are two kinds vegetarian: ovo-lacto (no meat, poultry and fish but consume eggs and dairy) and lacto (no meat, poultry, fish, eggs but consume dairy). I decided to be a lacto-vegetarian because I need calcium supplementation, mainly for osteoporosis prevention.
3) Cook the same way but replace the ingredients. Going vegetarian does not mean bland and boring meals every single time. I’ve learned how to make veggie lasagna (recipe here), kick-ass portobello mushroom burger (recipe here), tofu adobo, all-veggie curry, to name a few. I think the number one challenge among new vegetarians is what to replace meat with, being the number one source of protein. Protein as you learned from school is the building-block of our body because it builds and repairs tissues. Tofu, green peas, soybeans, spinach, seitan (meat substitute), mushrooms are just some of the alternatives. For example, my dinner an hour ago was linguine with spinach and portabellini mushrooms sautéed in artichoke pesto sauce.
4) No time to cook? go take-out. Every Friday nights, we drive to Down To Earth (local health food store in Hawaii) to raid the buffet area, haha! But seriously, it’s where I buy most of my fruits and veggies and also some hot meals to last me for a day or two. Taco Bell has veggie cantina bowl, Panda Express has tofu eggplant in chili sauce, my fave local sushi place has all-veggie rolls. Last week while looking at the menu of a Vietnamese restaurant, I asked the lady if they have vegetarian options. To which she responded “just tell me anything you want and I’ll replace it with tofu”. It was the best lemongrass and spring rolls ever. Like ever. So don’t dismiss your favorite resto yet. It doesn’t hurt to ask.
5) Eat healthy, exercise, live longer. Barring unforeseen events and medical conditions, a large study conducted by researchers from Loma Linda University, CA reported that vegetarians live longer than meat eaters. It’s interesting to note that while diet plays an important role, vegetarians tend to exercise more and spend less time in sedentary activities (couch potato anyone?) Of course, don’t forget to take your multivitamins lady!
I hope you find my tips helpful. Remember, look fit and feel fab!
‘Til our next #realtalk