How I became vegetarian ...for a month

Sure. I chose the shortest month of the year to give vegetarianism a go. But I had to start somewhere, and February seemed as good a time as any. So, last February, I went vegetarian. For a month.

The first three weeks were amazing. My skin was a bit clearer. My mind was functioning at a higher level. My body felt stronger. And my system was clean (like real clean). But on Day 25, something changed. My body wanted chicken wings. Thoughts of poultry, beef and lamb started to consume my thoughts. And then the benefits of vegetarianism started to fade. My skin stayed the same. My mind couldn’t stay focused (on anything but meat). And I felt weaker. Oddly, my boyfriend Nick, who was trying out this meatless life with me, gained the positives but never felt the negatives I did.

So, what gives? Why did I need meat when Nick didn’t? Well, it’s because of bio-individuality. Bio-individuality is the health theory that “there’s no one right diet that works for everyone all of the time”. You’ve known about this concept for a while now (remember that time when one of your friend lost 25lbs on a diet and you went on the same one and actually gained a pound or five?). Formal research institutions, however, are just starting to catch up. They are starting to study and prove what most integrative and functional health folks have known for quite some time: the same food can be positive for one person but poison for another. For instance, studies show that people can eat the same exact food and have varying levels of blood sugar spikes following their meal. Reports also show, that for those looking to lose weight, it is possible for almost anyone to reach a healthy weight, but you’ll need to find your best way to get there.

That may not seem like good news to some of you, but I beg to differ. I think it’s great news. It means different things work for different people, and that you probably just need to find different foods to achieve your health goals. And that’s okay. I am better off because of my adventure into vegetarianism. After going meat-free for a month, I realized that I actually prefer plant-based protein (my bank account does too). So, I live about 80% of my life sans meat because I really do feel better without it. But I can’t live without it. My body just won’t thrive meatless. You may be different. You could be like Nick. The only way to find out what foods work best for you is to experiment with your meats, grains and produce. So, give it a go and see what happens. 

Erica Ballard