When it comes to nutrition, it is tough to balance fact from fiction. The one fact I know for sure is that most of us have complete control of what we put in our bodies, how often and how much. Like an unlimited gift card to BP. Like many family traditions dinner is passed down, repeated, tweaked and repeated again. I grew up on pancakes, hot dogs, and Pepsi and for fancy meals steak, potatoes, butter bread and milk. As I became an adult, my taste buds expanded to pizza, cheeseburgers and mac n cheese. I know, my diet growing up sounds awful and yet it was. When I entered the professional business world, my eating habits were thrown for a loop, and I was in for a huge learning experience. Part of my job was to attend many sit down business lunches, dinners, and events where you did not decide what you ate, your meal was pre-ordered. I will never forget the round table luncheon at the Duquesne Club, my stomach growling from rushing from my second job bartending until 2:30 am to my office chair at 8:30 am without breakfast. The server gently placed some big white fluffy looking thing with lots of vegetables on a plate in front of me as well as the other nine guests at my table. Rolls were passed and I quickly grabbed two of them waiting for my two neighbors to start eating so I could figure out which glass and bread plate was mine. See, no formality existed in my house except for sitting at the table with my feet in front. I had never seen so much tableware in my life. It turned out that what I did try was Virginia Spots and at the time I only ate a few bites, today that dish remains one of my favorites. This secretly marked the start to the change in my eating habits.
I am lucky because I never had any weight problems. I credit that not only to good thin gene’s but the fact I can never sit still, always being active. I enjoyed many sports through my 20’s and 30’s and went off and on taking my fitness seriously. Through the years I made some minor changes in my diet such as eliminating added salt which made me become a pepper junky as well as eliminating all soda pop. I drink water throughout the day and with meals enjoy a unsweetened iced tea.
In my mid 30’s I watched the movie Food, Inc. and I was shocked with how animals are treated, what they are being fed and learning about historical trends tied to what we eat and disease. Over time I believe this viewing made me pay a little more attention to what I was eating. I was with a colleague on a business trip, and he mentioned that he and his wife were vegetarian’s, I enjoyed learning more from him, and he recommended reading The China Study by Colin Campbell. The China Study is the most comprehensive study of nutrition ever conducted and the startling implications for diet, weight loss, and long term health. I finished the book in less than a week and for once gave serious consideration to my health and lifestyle. I next enjoyed the movie Forks over Knives, and I believe through those two informational pieces subliminally decided to make major changes in my life. I first found myself reducing red meat to once a week, (some people call that meatless Monday’s) which then became reducing red meat to one day a week then to deciding I that I can be a vegetarian. Yes, it was as simple as that and much easier than I ever expected. I continue to enjoy some of my favorite foods such as pancakes and pasta, but within a week or two I had cravings for foods I could never have imagined. I look forward to at least one big salad per day with leafy greens and lots of chopped veggies with oil and vinegar. A year ago I barely ate iceberg and also believed that to be a healthy side dish. Last year I started growing my herbs and I have hopes to start an indoor garden my husband soon. A few months ago we were blessed with a Whole Foods opening about 5 minutes from our home. I have found so many new wonderful items to enjoy and love hearing about what others like and trying them out. My great friend Joey taught me a lot about food, helped me prepare some vegetarian dishes and shared her healthy favorites. My favorites would have to be Cava Mezze tzatziki a classic Greek yogurt dip with dill and cucumber and Greek Gods, Traditional Greek Yogurt with Honey. I keep both at home and the office and enjoy them daily.
I think my most powerful nutritious weapon comes from breakfast. I added this shake to my daily habits months before I ever decided to adapt to the vegetarian lifestyle. Every morning I enjoy Shakeology with either fresh fruit blended in my magic bullet or just shaking the powder with Naked Smoothie or V8 Fusion Lite juice and two tablespoons of Udo’s Oil 3-6-9. With 23 vitamins and minerals in the mix alone, Shakeology uses a proprietary blend of digestive enzymes and prebiotics to gently and efficiently eliminate toxins. Then a combination of antioxidants, phytonutrients, adaptogens, and many other rare ingredients give your body the essential nutrients you can’t get from a normal diet. You get a salad bowl’s worth of fruits and vegetables in a single glass. Shakeology also has two vegan varieties, chocolate, and tropical strawberry. My favorite is tropical strawberry and enjoys it on my way to the office every morning. I also take packets on trips and mix in my hotel room with a shaker cup or mix in a restaurant.
In summary, we can all take baby steps to improve our health. When someone asks me why I would ever decide to become a vegetarian my answer is simple, to help prevent disease and eat as naturally healthy as possible. Of all the natural cancer prevention substances found: vitamin C, B-17, hydroquinones, beta carotene, NDGA, – none has been found to be animal derived. Most meats, when cooked, produce an array of benzenes and other carcinogenic compounds. Cancer is infinitely easier to prevent than cure. Cancer is prevalent in my family, and I want to be active in any methods to prevent the disease. Many more answers to why become vegetarian can be found at many websites including 49 Reasons. I am proud of my decision and so happy my family supports me. I honestly feel healthier than ever before, solely because of my diet.