As part of my ’50 things before I’m 50’ list, I wanted to see what it was like to go vegetarian for a month. I haven’t ever done this before (not really even for a day!) and I have a few vegetarian and vegan Clients that I wanted to see if I could understand and help more with the nutrition side of my job. I tracked my macro’s, weight and generally how I felt. Well, spoiler alert, I am not going to rush to do that again! Although I am very glad I achieved it and didn’t give up (and not to upset my veggie friends) but I really struggled and will definitely not be turning to vegetarianism.
Week 1: Unfortunately I experienced huge tummy upsets due to the change in diet – my digestion plays up at the best of times anyway. It took over a week to calm down. Although I liked the fact that I needed to be more creative with meals, I found I missed meat immediately and got quite bored with just veggies. I felt hungry all the time, I struggled to keep my protein levels up to what I am used to, and I was consuming the same amount of calories but my carb levels were much higher than usual. On the upside, due the higher carb levels I was consuming I wasn’t craving chocolate at all (which is usually a big problem for me!!) and weirdly I wasn’t feeling anywhere near as thirsty as I usually do.
Week 2: This week was much the same as the first unfortunately. Tummy was still upset and really struggled to find interesting meals. I think the main problem is that I am also intolerant to gluten, yeast, soy, starch and not great with sulphates. This basically ensures I can’t have anything pre-prepped, although there were a couple of Kirsty’s meals I found that were tasty and I could have. Energy levels good though.
Week 3: This week I had to navigate a BBQ and three meals out – massively struggled with what to order and there was very little I could actually eat. I also had a very physically and emotionally tough week and not being able to eat what I wanted was really not helping. Energy levels were still good though and still not feeling thirsty, although it was hot that week so tried to keep water levels up. I also noticed that my muscles were not repairing as quickly as usual – protein levels much lower.
Week 4: Tummy calmed right down and was getting used to the lack of variety, but still massively missed different textures and protein. Weight over the 4 weeks has remained fairly stable (tiny increase of 0.3kg), my energy levels have not dropped at all, my protein levels dropped, carb levels increased significantly, saturated fat levels increased slightly, and calorie intake was about the same as a standard month.
Conclusions: As mentioned at the beginning, I am very glad I have completed this experiment, but it has not made me want to become a full-time veggie and certainly not vegan. The main reason is that I am intolerant to certain foods as well and this restricts me far too much that I wouldn’t want to do that to myself unless I absolutely had to. The worst was going out for meals as, not surprisingly, many restaurants and café’s don’t cater for gluten free, no soy and vegetarian. I was also really hoping a side effect of doing this was a bit of weight loss, but due to the increase in carbs mainly, I actually gained a bit instead ☹.