I ate fish.
Salmon to be specific. In a salad. To answer the question of meat eaters, no it wasn't delicious and a glorious re-entry into the world of meat. To answer the question from vegetarians, I still very much support vegetarianism and 95% of my diet will continue as such.
First off, let's back it up a bit. I went vegetarian on September 1st, 2013. And as anyone who chooses to follow a specific diet knows, a lot of people have asked...
Why did you become a vegetarian?
Of course, the meat eaters are asking because they want to challenge you and convince you that you're doing the wrong thing. The vegetarians are super supportive and just want to know your story and offer recipes. The vegans only ask because they want to know when you'll make the "Next Step" and if you're answer is no, then they continue ignoring you.
Over the 2 years that I was a vegetarian, I've had different answers to that question.
My answers didn't vary because I changed my thoughts, but because there were a lot of different circumstances leading up to that decision and I'm not sure which one was the main reason I made it.
- I had lost the bulk of my taste for beef in 2005 (after 3 months of vegetarianism).
- I never really cared for chicken.
- I enjoyed trying new foods and knew that most of my meals were based around a protein source. Vegetarianism forced me to think differently.
- Through triathlon training, I had cut out various foods that didn't sit well or limited my workouts. At the end, I found myself only sparingly consuming fish and ground turkey.
- I had also begun cutting out foods that I felt were holding me back performance wise (trying to eat healthy) such as pasta and processed foods and using more whole foods.
- I've always believed that our daily diet recommendations for protein are too high and we can get away with much less.
- And I read the book Skinny Bastard
If I used any of the above reasons the most, it was #7, 6, and 4. Skinny Bastard seeded my distrust for the meat industry. At the time I was only three products away from being vegetarian anyways. And I strongly believed I didn't even need those to get what I needed in my diet.
Done! With all those combined, I went vegetarian!
I will say that right from the start, I told people that I would be willing to eat meat as long as it avoided my distrust of the meat industry. By that I mean that it was local, wasn't raised with antibiotics or hormones, was naturally fed, and slaughtered locally. I even looked into a few local farms that offer meat in the first year, but I never did it.
Over the next two years I enjoyed great racing with zero issues. Okay!! I had one issue! I went from what we guessed to be 20g of fiber/day pre-vegetarianism to upwards of 90-120g. The US average is 15g and recommendations site around 40g. Other than that, I was great for 2 years and loved it! I had an occasional meat craving, but it was out of convenience more than taste. I was good! My races were more competitive than ever and the doctor loved my blood work!
Everything was great.
So why go back to eating meat?
Jumping ahead, I was able to partake in a triathlon certification course involving the nutrition section taught by one of the previous US Olympic Dietitians. It was awesome! And he focused on one single item that I've always known... Nutrition is first about balancing blood sugar, then about supplying energy.
There are a number of things you can do to balance blood sugar. One of them is to alter the ratio of your macronutrients (fats, carbs and protein). As a vegetarian, there are very few options for pure protein without the attached carbohydrates and most of those involve processed protein powders or lots of searching. In the end, I knew that if I was going to give this new diet idea a try, I had to go back to a more pure (and still unprocessed) protein source. Meat! And of all the meat options there were, I missed seafood the most. I don't know why honestly. I was the worst seafood eater as a child. My parents will vouch for me!
I will admit that even once the decision was made, it took at least three weeks before I actually acted on it. I had become so habituated in eating vegetarian that I A) felt like I was giving up a streak that I had held onto so long and B) had no idea where to start! I decided on one thing - as long as it was wild caught and had the least amount of preservatives I could find, I would work with that. Otherwise, I would continue my vegetarianism. The first thing I found (and keep finding thankfully) was wild caught Salmon.
I've also altered other aspects of my diet to attempt lowering my carbs a bit and balancing out those lost calories with fats and a little protein. And I'm getting more used to how to cook and season the salmon. I have been out of practice for some time! haha
That's my story!
I've been through periods of eat anything, the typical "try to eat healthy," vegetarianism (back in college), frozen food lover, Paleo diet twice, a slow adaptation of diet based on training improvements, back to vegetarianism, and now pescatarianism. In the end, life is an experimentation and there is no one right way to eat or live. I'm sure in time I will make another change and scoff at something I do now.
Until then, eat up!
1. What have you changed about your diet over the years?
2. Could you see yourself going vegetarian?
I did it first in college for 3 months and recently for 2 years. I found it quite easy.
3. What is one food you think you could NOT go without?
I used to think I could live on PB&J. I used to drink 1/2 gallon of milk a day. I really don't think there's one food I couldn't go without. However, I'm quite attached to eggs, cheese, and peanut butter.
DREAM. BELIEVE. ACHIEVE.