In 1971, 1 percent of U.S. citizens described themselves as vegetarians. A 2000 poll found that 2.5 percent of respondents reported not eating meat, poultry, or fish (the definition of a vegetarian) and in 2013 a recent poll put the number of vegetarians at 3.2% (which is about 7.3 million people). On a percentage basis we have had quite the growth spurt in vegetarianism since I was 11 years old and eating mostly roast beef sandwiches. And so I wonder if I am the new “typical” vegetarian? Oh yea, I have been a vegetarian for about five years. Actually, atypical in that we are not all driven by the same reasons - we come from all walks of life and with a million different reasons to live this way. My journey was unplanned, unpredictable and like most everything I have done in my life, a process – one where patience and diligence get me to a goal I have set for myself. In fact my journey was about 15 years long – starting with eliminating red meat in 1996, then poultry and pork in 2002 and fish as recently as 2007. At each step along the way I was testing myself – seeing what it would be like to live without those food items I had grown up on and had significant cultural significance in my upbringing (like my grandmothers meatballs).
The test worked and I found myself passing up foods I had once loved (like sushi) and instead was seeking to try new and interesting foods like Kale, Brussels sprouts and broccoli (ok, I know - but for some it is a real adventure to eat broccoli . And while I was going through the process I was aware of the “other:” reasons for becoming a vegetarian I only found them to be side benefits and not the driver of my decision. My decision solely rested on feeling better, living cleaner and having more power. And it has really worked for me; eating this way I can do more, sleep less, think better and live stronger. I truly attribute a lot of how I feel to what I eat and put inside me. And I will state, for the record, that this works for me – it might work for you – but you and you alone will figure that out.
Since this journey has gone on for quite some time, I have found many surprises along the way. For example, it can cause strain with friends and family when you are out of alignment with them. It has also forced me to think more than I would have ever imagined about what I choose to eat. And here is that set of experiences that are not “expected” when you become a vegetarian (for whatever reason). And so I offer a few of my “experiences” and “thoughts” for you to read. Here goes:
- I am often asked if I miss meat – “if I did miss meat I would eat it”, so I guess the answer is no J
- Lots of people worry about this style diet and hard exercise. I feel better eating as a vegetarian. Seems to me it is easier to absorb and digest and I have no issues with endurance or physical activity. Actually, I feel way stronger than before.
- Living my life as a white male in the suburbs I was as far from a minority as you could get. Then I became a vegetarian and I was now in the minority. I would not dare say that this category is the same as any other minority but there are many instances when you are treated “differently” as a result. The first time I went to a full vegetarian restaurant and could eat anything on the menu I felt normal for a moment. It was a lot easier than ordering the grilled chicken sandwich without the chicken, for sure
- Once I became a vegetarian I found out more and more about the benefits to the planet from this lifestyle and I find it a great add-on to the choice that I have made
- I have learned that food is a very personal choice and I am not on a mission to convince others to be a vegetarian – like anything in life – if you see something that works you often try to copy it. If that is what you see then I support you 100% on your journey.
- I have learned to find it normal that vegetables are cooked with bacon fat or bacon. Someone once told me that bacon is the reason that vegetarians go back to being meat eaters. Do you think this is a ploy? To serve vegetables with bacon all the time?
This high performance life takes many forms and is an ever evolving target. What I offer tonight is that there is no set formula for how to get there. The only constant is endeavoring to live higher and better than you would if you did not put effort into it. For me, the food part, is an integral part of high performance and I am living proof that different models can work and you might even want to try one of them from time to time.
I also think that doing the same thing every day is NOT boring - rather it is exciting - why? because you learn the nuances and small points along the way - you would miss them if you just did something once. Which is why I am still hard at working the Flower pushup challenge and endeavor to do it every day. Made it to the end today. Wanted to see if I could hold he last position beyond the songs end. Made it another five seconds (which felt like an eternity). Then rest a few minutes and 182 pushups on 4:17 minutes. Love it!
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Loving Life, that’s all