Veggie no more - Why I started eating meat again

by - 4:51 PM

The meat is back on the table.

Why I started eating meat again
My recipe for grilled lamb kebabs with yogurt tzatziki
After a year and a half of following a straight pescatarian (vegetarian + fish) diet, flirting with vegetarianism and veganism, I decided to start eating red meat again about a month ago.

What caused the switch?  I'll start with why I stopped eating meat...

Road to Vegetarianism

After upping my yoga game to a serious practice (4+ times a week) in 2013, I noticed a shift in my eating patterns. This was at the same time I was undergoing my holistic health coach certification, and I began experimenting with cleanses and removing processed foods.

I noticed that the cleaner I ate, the better I felt and the more I was craving vegetables, fibrous foods, nuts and seeds.

I would make an entire meal and noticed that I ate everything BUT the animal protein first. When I would be out to dinner and having a conversation, I would often look down at my plate and notice that I had eaten everything AROUND the protein portion of my entree. Interesting.

Slowly, I started playing around with more vegetarian cooking, following meatless mondays, getting creative with my protein sources. I noticed how much protein I HAD NOT been getting when I was eating meat on the regs, especially for breakfast. By upping my protein consumption at my first meal (read my post here on the importance of protein at breakfast), I had more energy, remained fuller longer and craved much less animal protein later in the day.

To be honest, I've never craved chicken. Ever. I've never craved bacon. (sacrelige!) The only thing I've craved is a fat, juicy burger which I have concluded was mainly an iron-based deficiency.

I realized I actually liked the stuff ON the burger much more than the patty itself. Animal protein made me feel heavy. Sluggish. So I nixed it.

Yoga teacher training meals in Bali

My Bali teacher training was the final nail in the carne coffin - we had three beautiful vegan meals a day and I felt better than I have ever felt in my life. I carried this through when I returned, deciding to re-incorporate fish after a few months of noticing my energy levels wane when summer picked up.

I was light, I could FLY on my mat, through my day. I had trained my eye to scout out vegetarian meals on menus, and that is honestly what I was attracted to. The thought of eating meat made my stomach instantly seize up - I could remember the heaviness of a large meaty meal and wanted nothing to do with it.

And then, something shifted.

Maybe it was hormonal. Maybe it was environmental. Maybe it was lifestyle. But my body started to turn on me.

My skin had sallowed. My hair had thinned. My energy waxed and waned. My skin broke out on my face like CRAZY (this is pretty sure a hormonal thing.)

I remember vividly sitting on my floor one day after a long week of teaching and practicing. I had tried to start running again and my body laughed at me. I felt like my hips were made of elastic bands, drooping at my sides instead of snapping my legs back underneath me like they used to.

"Oh my god I've gone hypermobile." My fear.

I literally felt like my hips were falling, unable to support my body. "I think I need some fish."

I housed some salmon which helped a little but still - something was not enough. I had started swimming and biking and running in addition to yoga, and my body was saying FEED ME SOMETHING DIFFERENT. Feed me MORE.

Bringing Home the Bacon

So one night I said screw it. Give me a brisket and chicken wings. My body loved it. My stomach welcomed it like an old friend (shocked). That weekend at my parents house, I had lamb. Dear, sweet lamb.

My face cleared up. Filled out again. My glutes became happy. My butt started to fill out again. (I missed my runner's bootay!)

The final straw was after some outdoor handstand play - I had scraped my hand, and my friend had scraped his knee. My blood was a pale rose red. His was oxblood.

"Is that the color of your normal blood??" Oh my god I need iron in my life. I got a burger that day.

My recipe for greek marinated grilled lamb chops

The 90/10 Rule

So, yes, I'm eating meat again once or twice a week. I'll say, I'm still getting used to it. I still crave and prepare mainly vegetarian meals. But I'm not going to be afraid to incorporate some grass-fed beef into my diet, especially as I begin to up my training and bike commuting around the city.

At IIN, we learned about the 90/10 diet rule - 90 of the time, eat a clean, plant-based diet of whole foods. The other 10% - eat what you want. What you crave, what you desire. It is unrealistic to deprive yourself of foods or cravings to follow a "diet." Telling your brain it can't have something only makes it want it more.

Training your brain to remember how crappy you feel when you eat crap, is something different. That is what I have taught myself to do. How to listen to my cravings in an intelligent way :

"I want chocolate" = "I want sugar" = "I'll eat some fruit with crunch to it + up my fat and protein intake"

So, without really following any set rules, I have fallen into a pretty maintainable pattern of keeping my plant based, whole foods diet, inserting protein throughout the week as I need it. For example, last Thursday I probably put in 20 miles bike commuting + taught 4 yoga classes, two of them heated. I had meat on my plate that night.

I noticed my body has liked this new shift. In addition, I have drastically reduced my alcohol intake, as a lifestyle choice, and to support those in my life who are currently abstaining. I have drastically upped my ice cream, croissant, and honey intake. My body seems to enjoy the calories more from donuts than mojitos, and my ass is getting bigger and stronger again. I'm calling a win on all fronts.

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