My boyfriend, Erik, has been vegetarian for about 4-5 years now. His reasoning is pretty simple: animals don’t deserve to be killed for our consumption and technology has come a long way so that human life can sustain itself without needing to eat meat. If he had the choice to go vegan at restaurants or with his recipes, he’d go vegan.
For me, it was a little different.
Recently for the past 2 years or so, especially since Erik and I started dating, I’ve just been eating less meat. I love sharing my food and I have this weird quirk in which I never like to finish that very last bite. Very weird. Anyway, whenever I eat out or cook meals with Erik, I tend to go vegetarian with him. BUT, foods with meat are very much a huge part of my Taiwanese culture. Lu rou fan (minced pork with rice), pork chop, beef noodle soup, Taiwanese sausage, all the dim sum dishes, you name it! My parents were skeptical when they learned Erik was vegetarian. And my mom took a blow when I informed her I was converting.
So why did I decide to go vegetarian?
- I haven’t been eating too much meat anyway, so the transition wasn’t too bad.
- Sustainability. It takes a lot of water to foster beef. Read more about that here.
- Fat loss. I’ve been on my fitness journey for years and it’s a lot of ups and downs. From multiple sources, I’ve heard that people who go vegetarian tend to lose some fat. Notice that I’m referring to fat loss, not weight loss. I used to care so much about that number on the scale and although it’s not entirely the case now (I still care a little) I’m more focused on overall total body fat percentage.
- I love animals. I’ve always loved them and had many pets growing up. I even wanted to be a veterinarian when I was a little girl. I recently saw a video about a Southern Cajun soul food company with a food stall in Downtown LA’s Smorgasbord. The video depicted bodies of baby alligators slathered in different Cajun sauces, except with their heads still intact and untouched. Maybe in a previous life, I would have been fascinated and eager to try it for myself. But now, I was repulsed. I thought it was grotesque and almost disrespectful to the animal – I don’t want to be picking at meat from what looked like a peaceful sleeping baby alligator. The comments section, of course, had a raging battle between foodies and animal activists. That’s when I knew I could relate to Erik’s almost devout vegetarianism.
The first week of going vegetarian was the hardest only because I had no idea how to start filling my body with veggie food so that I wasn’t hungry all the time. It totally reminded me about when I tried Whole30 last year (blog post about that here). The hunger wasn’t too bad this time round and I had Erik’s full support. It’s totally possible for people to lose weight/fat by going vegetarian, given that they are still eating in a calorie deficit. Vegetables, especially non-starchy ones, can fill up your stomach by sheer volume and are less caloric than meat. I still consume dairy (that ice cream, cheese and froyo life) and eggs.
But what about protein? I was most worried about that aspect, since I knew I needed a certain number of grams of protein to lose fat. But to simply live and function, your body doesn’t need hundreds of grams of protein. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) can be calculated by multiplying your weight by 0.36. That puts me at around 45 grams of protein per day. So it’s totally possible for everyone to go vegetarian (and even vegan) without worrying about how much protein their bodies need. To learn more about that, here‘s an article from Harvard Health Publishing.
Last I checked, I lost about 4 pounds in a month and a half of going vegetarian. My workouts remained pretty consistent, and I could definitely be losing more weight/fat if I weren’t eating so many potatoes and easy carbs! If you have any more questions about what it’s like to go vegetarian or if you have any concerns, drop me a message or comment below! ????????????????