I never really was a big meat eater. I love chicken and turkey, like (but don't love) ground beef, and really enjoy pork (particularly bacon) but I don't fiend for it or desire it so deeply I had to have it. In fact, when it comes to foods I have trouble living without, bread and dairy stuff is the hardest for me to kick the habit of (followed closely by coffee).
After my surgery, though, I started to notice a pattern, and it was troubling to me. The main piece of advice I got after my "all clear" was to avoid large pieces of meat. The way my digestive system is reconfigured, large pieces of meat are difficult, if not impossible, for me to handle, so everything had to be cut into small pieces like a child would eat. Even that, though, was difficult.
Sometimes I would eat even the slightest bit of meat and be stuffed. At Thanksgiving dinner, I had the smallest portion of white meat turkey imaginable and still was uncomfortable afterward. Same with dinner at Rosh Hashanah. It's been a constant battle since my surgery and one I was getting tired of.
A few weeks ago I was sitting on my couch eating dinner and something crazy happened.
I wasn't struggling. It clicked that I hadn't struggled in a long time. Clearly something had changed, but what? Then I realized, I hadn't had meat at all and had minimized my gluten intake. I was on day four and it just happened. I didn't do it consciously, but the difference was obvious. Instead of fighting it, I rolled with it.
I'm very fortunate in that my trainer friend Sierra is vegan so I was able to talk to her about what I needed to do to do this "right" and I decided that that moment I was going to sustain vegetarian eating as long as I could.
And my life changed forever.
Some things that have gotten better since I changed over to vegetarian and gluten-minimalizing:
1. I can eat normal-sized meals now. That alone is remarkable. My portion sizes are more like normal portion sizes and I'm much more satisfied after a meal without the accompanying "icky" feeling.
2. I don't have digestive issues any more. My system, without going into too much detail, is now regulated and working normally.
3. My hypoglycemia problem is gone as long as I kick the day off with a balanced breakfast (meaning a good balance of fat, carbs, and protein). If I do that, I'm off the hook for the rest of the day and I can eat whatever I want.
4. My weight has gone up some, but it's stable, and the irregularity of how I feel day to day is gone. I've been fighting off a cold since before I went to LA, but since I got back it's been at bay and little by little my energy levels are returning.
5. Meat substitutes are a godsend. Last night for dinner I had a Beyond Burger and it was amazing. More amazing? I ate the whole thing and half the fries (which I was sharing with Sierra, so it was fine). It was the first time she's seen me since I went vegetarian (she was so proud of me, obviously) and the first time she's seen me clean my plate!
I don't know that vegetarianism is for everyone, but I will say this much: it's changed my life and definitely for the better. I only wish I had tried this sooner because I spent so many days and nights miserable and uncomfortable before this and now I feel like I've clawed my life back.
So yeah. I'm Vincent Ferrari, and I'm a vegetarian.
That's just weird to say but I'm so glad I can say it.