These are the questions I get asked most when someone finds out I don't eat meat. I hope I didn't miss any! I can also add more, too :)
How long have you been vegetarian?
I stopped eating meat sometime in the Spring of 2009.
...So you ate meat before?
Yes. I ate everything under the sun.
Why Did you stop eating meat?
Lots of reasons: I wanted to lose weight and as I read more about healthy eating and taking care of your body, my focus shifted more to being healthy rather than just getting skinny. I read a few books that went into detail about where our food comes from and everything that gets put into animals. I read a lot of assumptions (not enough actual studies to provide tangible 'evidence') about a correlation between steroids and hormones put into animals we eat and how children are hitting puberty at younger and younger ages. Which means, I also stopped eating almost ALL animal products (I went vegan). I cut out as much artificial sweeteners as possible. I am not this strict anymore. I eat cheese, eggs/egg whites, and the occasional diet pop. *guilty*
Do you miss it/is it hard?
Not really. I have had some grilled chicken but I don't struggle with it. I rarely crave chicken, and if I do, it's always lean and grilled. I do not think I could eat a steak. It use to gross me out, now it doesn't. I will cook it for my husband, I will even use the same fork to flip meat and stir my veggies. I'm not anal about that. But I don't want to eat it. I really think it works well for me - I don't think others would be able to stop eating meat as easily.
Did you lose weight?
Yes ....and no. When I stopped eating meat, I made a LOT of changes. I think it helped me lose weight in the way that ANY fast food I ate completely stopped. Rarely would I go to a fast food place JUST for french fries. That cut out SO much fat!! I had been working out and I can't think of any changes in my workout schedule at that time. BUT - I am very into fitness and love reading about all things fitness. I am constantly changing my routine, setting new goals, and switching up workouts. I get bored easily, so this is mostly preventing my getting burned out. When I stopped eating meat, I stopped eating most junk food. I tried to eat ONLY healthy food and ONLY things that are GOOD for my body. So, yes, when I stopped eating I lost weight - about 15 pounds - but I also was also eating really healthy.
To better clarify- I still don't eat meat, but I have gained weight in the last two months. (I'll never tell how much :) hehe) I cancelled my gym membership, my workouts outdoors have decreased along with the weather (I HATE the cold), and I have been eating more sweets, cheese & crackers, and alcohol. So my calories burned have decreased along with increased caloric intake = weight gain. All without meat. I have met women that are chubby and vegetarian. Think about all the food that doesn't have meat in it- donuts, potato chips, coke, chocolate, cookies, etc...
Do you feel better?
YES. I feel BEST when I do not eat ANY dairy at all. I feel AMAZING. Not to mention, vegans have THE BEST skin. I really should stop eating dairy again! ;-)
BUT, OMG, WHERE DO YOU GET PROTEIN??!!
I use to get super annoyed when I got asked this. But then it dawned on me - I didn't know, either, until I read about it. Generally speaking, it is recommended that people have between 10-35% of their calories come from protein. It's higher with certain populations, like athletes or pregnant women. Long story short (without calculation & explanation)- I should eat a MINIMUM 50 grams of protein a day. A normal day for me is:
breakfast of 4 egg whites =20g
low fat cheese = 7g
snack almonds = 3g
lunch boca burgers = 38g
dinner whole wheat pasta = 7g
veggie crumbles = 15g
post workout whey = 20g
throughout day = 10g
TOTAL OF 120. Greek yogurt and cottage cheese is also high in protein, but I haven't been eating those as much lately. The average American consumes TOO MUCH protein. Heck, some days I eat too much without any meat, so I can't image what those eating meat get!