This post is a part of an ongoing series entitled MIP (Man In Progress) .After my 25th Birthday I decided to improve three aspects of my life, my physical well-being, my romantic relationships, and my writing career. My philosophy is that a writer’s work and his life are irrevocably intertwined and in order to improve one, we inevitably have to improve the other.
This year, as part of the “physical health” aspect of my Man In Progress pledge, I chose to do something that, even for me, was pretty bold.
I decided to stop eating meat.
I know what you’re going to say:
“Why, oh why, Ollin would you do such a thing? What did sweet sweet bacon ever do to you? You bastard. Get thee to a nunnery!”
First of all: what’s with the random Hamlet reference?
Second of all: the reason I decided to stop eating meat was because I was getting fat.
Seriously. I’m not kidding. I was getting chubsters.
As you all know, I started a new full-time job at the beginning of this year and the stress, pressure, and time that I had to dedicate to this new job was leading me to fall back into some pretty bad habits I thought I had forsaken long ago: I began to exercise less, eat badly, and sleep terribly.
This is something I thought I had addressed when I started my Man In Progress pledge three years ago. But now it looked like I was back at a similar place, just for very different reasons.
I knew that something had to change.
So, I decided that I needed one rule—and ONE RULE ONLY—that would make things better for my physical health. This one rule would force me to eat healthier no matter what situation I was in.
Why just “ONE RULE”? Well, because, literally, I was way too busy to have to keep track of more than one rule.
What was that one rule?
That was it.
It was a test, and I didn’t know if it would really work. But now, after about 4 months of having gone veggie, I can share with you that it’s been working for me.
And, as always, I would like to share with you what I’ve learned:
9 Things I Learned After Becoming A Veggie Writer
1. Don’t Underestimate Bacon: She’s A Persistent B**ch
In my journey to becoming a vegetarian, I was not prepared to uncover that my biggest foe was going to be America’s favorite fried delicacy: BACON.
It’s as if Bacon knew I was cutting It out of my life and It wouldn’t have it.
Whenever I would choose to eat outside, Bacon—aware that I was vulnerable to an attack–would sneak itself into egg and biscuit sandwiches that were never supposed to have bacon in them. It would sneak itself into the healthiest and freshest of veggie salads. And soups, the soups—OH, MY SWEET BUDDHA, THE SOUPS!!! You have no idea how many covert missions that sneaky bastard Bacon launched on my daily soup bowl.
It was shameless.
Every time I thought I’d escape from under Its clandestine grip, Bacon would turn up all of a sudden, barely noticeable at first, until that very last moment, when it would strike with a crunch—and I would know It had gotten me.
I could hear Bacon laughing diabolically as It fell dramatically down my throat. At which point I would have no other recourse but to shake my fist in the air and howl:
“BAACCOOOOONNNNNNN!!!! YOU BASAAAAAAARTTTTTDDDDD!!!”
2. For some weird reason, when waiters hear me say “no meat,” they assume I meant to say “MORE meat”
I swear, whenever I go out to eat, and I order a meal without meat, the waiter will often say to me:
“You do know that doesn’t have meat in it, right? Are you sure you don’t want us to put meat in it?”
At which point I will clench my jaw and as politely as I can, respond:
“I know it doesn’t have meat. That’s why I ordered it.”
3. Avocados are AWESOME
Oh my god, if it wasn’t for avocados I would have given up being vegetarian after day one.
Avocados are like a creamy, savory gift from The Great, Almighty Zeus. Avocados are the sweetest of all the fruits on Mount Olympus.
If bacon was my biggest foe in my journey to becoming vegetarian, Avocado was totally my BFF (and occasional lover… wait, what?)
Whenever I would find myself staring down an unimpressive veggie bugger for dinner, Avocado would drop in, just in time, to make that boring burger look sexy. A plain veggie sandwich would suddenly became much more arousing to my taste buds whenever avocado nestled itself in between those sweet, succulent sheets of lettuce. And finally, whenever an average-looking veggie taco looked like it was missing something, Avocado would show up, smooth itself out, and spread itself across my warm tortilla.
At which point, I would nod, put on some Barry White, and whisper to it:
“Oh yeaahhhhh, Avocado. You rock my world…”
(Okay. This is getting weird. But you totally love it. Don’t lie.)
4. Becoming vegitarian pretty much forces you to avoid junk food and encourages you to cook for yourself—which is actually healthier for you
My theory was that by forcing myself to eat more vegetarian, I would be encouraged to avoid fast food places and restaurants; and this, in turn, would help me lose more weight–and would help me feel better in general.
Now, after about 4 months of being vegetarian, my theory has proven correct: I quickly learned that veggie options at junk food places are pretty much nonexistent; whereas veggie options at most restaurants are few and far between. The veggie options that do exist at restaurants are often not even half as good as something you could just make yourself at home for much cheaper.
So, after becoming veggie, I found myself eating less junk food in general and cooking for myself most of the time—which, as I expected, helped me lose weight and made me feel better physically.
5. As long as you eat protein, you won’t drop dead from becoming vegetarian
One of the biggest misconceptions people have about becoming vegetarian is that there’s something unhealthy and almost dangerous about becoming a vegetarian.
But I’ve learned that human beings can certainly live without meat, and meat is just one way you can get your daily dose of protein: beans, spinach, nuts, eggs, milk, and cheese are all great sources of protein, too, and great substitutes for meat in case you choose to go vegetarian.
6. Becoming vegetarian does make you feel better
These days, I feel lighter, more energized, more focused, and more clear-headed. Also, to be honest, any digestive problems I had in the past have gone down to a minimum and are pretty much nonexistent.
I feel like I sleep better, and I can’t explain it exactly, but I do find exercising a lot more easier to engage in. (I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I don’t feel as sluggish as I used to? Maybe it’s because feeling lighter just makes me feel more motivated to go for a run? Not sure. But it I’ve noticed a difference.)
Now, this all just may be me psyching myself out, but all I can say is that, in general, I do feel much better after having given up meat.
7. Becoming vegetarian doesn’t make you love meat less–or crave meat less
Now, this may not be true for everyone, but for me, becoming vegetarian has not made me suddenly hate meat.
I still love meat and still have the occasional craving for some carne asada tacos, or a bowl of fried chicken, or just a nice, juicy piece of steak.
I know it maybe blasphemous in the vegetarian community to say that I still very much enjoy the taste of meat and crave it, but, hey, I’m not gonna lie.
8. Tofu still sucks balls
I’ve always hated tofu but when I became a vegetarian I thought I would somehow magically learn to love it.
Yeahhhh…. turns out that didn’t happen.
I still hate the taste, texture and shape of tofu. (I mean it looks like wax mannequin droppings and tastes like gelatinized troll farts. What is up with that?)
I don’t really know how I manage to get myself to eat it. But I do eat it occasionally because it’s another source of protein. What can you do?
9. We all have greater willpower than we think we do
Finally: probably the most surprising thing I learned after becoming vegetarian is that I have more willpower than I ever thought I had.
You see, I used to be that person who would always tell vegetarians:
“Oh wow, that’s so great that you’re a vegetarian, but I could NEVER do that. I love eating meat too much!”
I used to be convinced that I could NEVER give up eating meat… until the day I gave up eating meat.
That’s when I realized that giving up meat is actually SO MUCH easier than our culture would like us to believe.
You see, it’s not that I could never stop eating meat, it’s just that I never wanted to stop eating meat.
There’s a big difference.
Trust me when I say this: I LOVE meat. Oh man, do I love meat. I love the smell and the taste and the texture of carne. I really do. I NEVER thought I would become a vegetarian. But I was able to do it. I was able to make that choice–not just once, but many times over.
That’s because when I became a vegetarian, I chose to exercise my willpower, I chose to act in accordance with the way I truly wanted to live my life–and I was amazed at my own courage.
What I am trying to say is that you may not want to give up eating meat, but it doesn’t mean that you couldn’t make that choice.
Because you could make that choice.
You, like me, also have a tremendous willpower. You can literally will yourself to do anything you want. Don’t ever limit yourself by saying that you can’t. You can, it’s just that you have chosen not to.
Several months ago I wanted to give up meat because I wanted to feel better physically, and because I wanted to improve my overall health.
So far, it’s been working for me.
Now, if you don’t want to give up meat, that’s fine. To each his own.
But if you don’t think you can give up meat even though you want to give up meat, then I would suggest you remind yourself that your will is your own, and you can always choose to go against the grain–especially if going against the grain will serve you well.
Know that you can choose to act in accordance with your soul and, by doing so, you can begin to externalize the changes that have only so far occurred deep inside you.
Know that you can always choose to not give away your power–especially to something as unintimidating as bacon bits.
much veggie love,
Today’s Courage Exercise
If you always wanted to give up meat, but never thought you had the willpower to do so, test yourself today. Who knows? You might surprise yourself and realize that you have more control over what you choose to put in your mouth than you ever thought you had.
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