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(Above photo is a black bean burger Molly made while being vegetarian)

By: Molly James, Fitness Specialist/Program Coordinator

As a test to my willpower I decided to stop eating meat for 4 months. I originally decided to cut out meat for Lent, which is 40 days long. After40 days I wanted to see how long I could go with this lifestyle. This lasted until the end of May and holy cow did I learn a lot! The following are some perks and some downsides I experienced while being a vegetarian.

  • It is easy to avoid all fast food when not eating meat.

    • Most food options at McDonalds, Culvers, KFC, and Taco Bell have very few meatless meal options, so there was no point in even stopping there.
  • My cooking skills improved.

    • I made my own black bean burgers and really had to put some thought in to my meals as opposed to running to Subway and grabbing a sub. In addition, spices became incredibly important to give some excitement to my otherwise bland food. 
  • I ate so much pizza.

    • There are so many different pizza options that don’t have meat in them: margarita, arugula and goat cheese, and veggie pizzas were my favorite. I swear I had at least one a week.
  • Salads… so many salads.

    • I thought that as a vegetarian you must love salads, so I ate a salad for almost every lunch for the 4 months. In order to keep the salads exciting, I needed to add different dressings, beans, and seeds to give them some life. My favorite toppings included raspberry vinaigrette, chick peas, and sunflower seeds!
  • Workouts took longer to recover from.

    • I could tell my body wasn’t running smoothly and would remain sore for 2-3 days after an intense workout. This would make going to the gym 4-5 times a week very tough. I ended up supplementing my diet with a protein powder. I would have one shake after every workout to help my body repair after a workout. It really helped!

Overall, choosing to not eat meat was more of a willpower challenge than a nutritional challenge. I, personallydidn’t see any physical benefits from this diet – if anything it halted me from losing weight because of my pizza obsession. I have since added meat back into my diet and have already seen an increase in my energy levels and ability to push myself through workouts. This process has taught me how to appreciate my meals, and to fully understand that food is fuel.