I've been a vegetarian and part-time vegan for two years now. I love animals, but I also did it for my health. I have decided that I want to incorporate some meat back into my diet, but I don't necessarily want to eat meat all the time, or with every meal, etc. I want to mention WHY I have made this decision; more for me than for anyone else, but if you're interested in why I made the decision to return to omnivorism (is that a word? lol) then here it is... some of this information may be considered "too much information" so if you don't want to read it, don't. Like I said, this is mostly for me, but read at your own risk.
For starters, I've gained 25 pounds over the past two years! That has really made me ponder "what about being vegetarian could be causing this weight gain?" I have some health conditions that have slowly gotten worse as I've continued on this diet, and they have really become intolerable anymore.
To begin with, I have a condition called "benign migratory glossitis." It is also called "geographic tongue." It's when your tongue becomes inflamed, swollen, and gets these weird shapes on it. Your tongue can (and does) also lose some of it's bumpy texture (it becomes really smooth and irritated). I've had this condition for 8 or so years now. Foods and drinks can aggravate this. Here are some pictures (not of my tongue, but ones I found on the Internet).
As I said, for me, this condition is greatly (and mostly) aggravated by certain foods. Everyone is different. I have a friend with this condition and bananas bother him just terribly, whereas they don't bother mine at all. My mom has this condition as well and can't eat walnuts. The foods that irritate my tongue the most are beans, most nuts, all lettuces, and many raw vegetables and fruits, especially acidic ones. As much as I love a margarita, my poor tongue just can't handle it. My tongue can become swollen and bright red with big, angry jagged lines all over it. I will be just fine and then a minute later it feels like my tongue has been dunked in a cup of boiling soup. Ever scalded your tongue on hot coffee? You know how it stings for the rest of the day? It's like that, but worse.
As you can imagine, my tongue has been REALLY aggravated! All those "fake meats" like frozen veggie burgers, etc, are so processed that I try not to eat that stuff too often...but when I can't eat enough beans to keep me full, and so many raw veggies irritate my tongue...it hurts, literally, and I'm tired of being in pain.
I also have a problem with hemorrhoids and fissures. Again, certain foods aggravate those problems, too. Lately, it has been just awful. All of my bowel movements have become extremely painful. I can actually feel the tear(s). It's like I am pooping shards of glass. I pass a lot of blood as well. My dad has kind of a joke...he says, "I don't need 'roughage." I need SMOOTHAGE." I'm like my dad -- I need smoothage. Too many raw things just irritate me so badly, literally. I know raw foods are good, they have lots of fiber and act like little scrub brushes in your bowels...but I have discovered my, er, "system" can only have so much fiber. I always make sure to chew my food carefully, but I have noticed a definite pattern: the more raw foods I eat, the worse this problem is (and the worse my tongue gets). Now, I am on medications for this issue. I'm on some stool softeners and some suppositories. I'm also obviously not eating foods that are aggravating this issue, so I can heal. I'm trying to make sure I drink lots of water as well. I have just begun to treat this problem, both through a change in diet and also through medicine. I also have a tendency to be anemic and I'm not always getting what I need in a vegetarian diet...I'm definitely deficient in some areas.
So....let's just say that these issues have proven to be a real struggle that I'm not willing to put up with anymore. My choices in what I can comfortably eat are just too small when I eat vegetarian. There are only so many salads and raw things I can eat. I can only eat so many beans before my tongue swells and burns so badly that I'm nearly in tears (and sometimes it does make me cry). It's like a catch-22...I either eat enough beans/veggies to be full and satisfied, or I have to deal with my "system troubles" and a searing tongue...or...I don't eat those things and I'm hungry a lot, and end up eating lots more than I should. So, I end up reaching for foods that don't bother my tongue or my GI system so much...starchy things like breads and pastas, potatoes, cheeses, etc. Totally eliminating meat in addition to this has really, REALLY limited what I'm able to eat, for all three issues I've mentioned above. This has all lead to a very BORING, monotonous diet for me, and my family is just bored to death with it anyway. I said I wouldn't buy or cook meat, but every time we go out to eat (which is very rare), they get something with meat in it. I don't want my family to be bored with what I cook for them. I want to prepare a VARIETY of healthy, well-balanced foods for us.
I understand that by simply adding meat back to my diet, it is not going to take the place of vegetables. I realize that. I'm going to have to continue to do research and find new ways to prepare things. And I'm not saying I can't eat raw stuff; I just can't eat a lot of it. I need to broil, steam, grill veggies. Adding some lean meat will certainly help with my issues I've mentioned above. I almost never had any issues like those at all when I ate meat. However, if I can't have meat, like when I'm a vegetarian, it greatly limits what I can eat. About 7 years ago I was on South Beach Diet, and I really enjoyed it. I did not always do it correctly though, and it bit me in the butt later on. I stayed on Phase One for too long, because I wanted the results I was getting. I just about never ate bread or pasta. (I have a very "all or nothing" personality when it comes to weight loss...or anything else, really). I've done SBD correctly and incorrectly. The reason it "stopped working" is because I stopped doing it. I gave up. It wasn't that it "wasn't working for me," I didn't have a "reason" for quitting. I just quit.
I don't want to be a quitter. I want to incorporate ALL the things I know I need to do, all the things I have done in the past and been successful at, but this time I DON'T WANT TO QUIT AND GIVE UP. I want to see this through to the end, and I want to be able to make it my new lifestyle. I want to go to the gym after work like I used to, regularly, only taking a day or two off each week. I want to take the aqua aerobics classes again, because I liked them so much and they were so helpful to me. I want to pay a little more attention to my appearance. I want to go back to allowing myself one treat a week. I did this a few years ago and it worked so well! I would not give myself a cheat day or even a cheat meal...just a treat once a week. Usually on a Friday night, I would allow myself a treat: a couple glasses of wine...a serving of chips and salsa (or queso dip)...a bowl of popcorn and one soda, etc. I looked forward to it all week and felt SO satisfied. I never once, not one single time, felt even the slightest bit guilty. I have learned lots of healthy vegetarian/vegan recipes and dishes that I want to continue to enjoy, just not exclusively. I have a juicer, a cool gadget that makes "noodles" out of raw veggies, etc. I have access to healthy foods and the Internet, books, etc, to figure out how to cook and/or prepare everything. I need to stick with it, though. All of these things have worked for me in the past...every single one of them...but I just quit. I stop going. I stop doing it. I give up. I just say, "Meh. I'm done." I need to quit listening to that voice and find a new one that says, "DO IT. Don't quit. Don't stop. You're making yourself better, healthier, and happier. DON'T QUIT."
Well, I've laid it all out there. I am so excited for Christmas and I absolutely LOVE the holidays, but I would be a liar if I didn't say I was relieved when they are over and done with. I love having a fresh start ahead of me. I plan to enjoy the next few days with my family and friends, and prepare to start my new year off on the right foot!