It’s been one year since I started eating meat again. I’ve written about why I made the change, my ethical struggles with eating meat, and my fear of what others would think. It’s time to look in the mirror and ask myself, “How am I doing?”
When I was trying to decide if I could turn my back on 23 years as a vegetarian, I educated myself on the health benefits of eating meat by reading The Paleo Diet by Loren Cordain. I noted the things I hoped would change for me if I followed his food plan.
According to the book, eating meat might help:
- with weight loss (thermic effect of a high protein diet, p. 21)
- improve my ability to exercise (p. 65)
- decrease my hypoglycemia (p. 70)
- increase my thyroid production (p. 71)
Eliminating grains and legumes might help:
- improve vitamin B absorption (p. 55)
- improve biotin absorption (specifically wheat and whole grains, p. 56)
- improve my mental health (also being dairy-free, p. 95)
I’ve spent the last year eating meat every day while removing all grains, all legumes, and most dairy products from my diet. This is my experience:
- Great improvement in strength and endurance. Exercise is starting to be fun again. Also, my body shape has changed as a result of putting on more muscle, although my weight is about the same.
- A marked decrease in hypoglycemic symptoms. I used to eat by the clock. One extra hour between a snack and a meal gave me severe symptoms that took 24 hours to disappear. Now I can skip a snack completely or go for long periods between meals with no ill effects. (Well, I might get a little grumpy. I don’t like being hungry. But I do not suffer like I used to.)
- A definite improvement in mental health (decreased depression and anxiety).
I don’t think that my thyroid function has improved because we haven’t had to make any adjustments to my thyroid supplement. (I dream of one day not needing to take that little pill every morning, but it hasn’t happened yet.) I haven’t bothered to have my B vitamins tested so I don’t know if my absorption is better or not.
But other than that, the things I hoped might improve have improved. I have more energy. Activities that used to require days of recovery are no longer as taxing. Most mornings, I wake up with ease and am eager to face the day. Even the days when I am tired, I am not as tired as I used to be.
Letting go of my vegetarian life style has been challenging for me, but I need only look at the improvements in my daily life to see that while I may not want to eat meat, I need to eat meat.