The reason I became a vegetarian
Nowadays you would imagine being a vegetarian isn’t strange or shocking, but surprisingly when people learn I’m a vegetarian I’m grilled with queries. The fascination with the idea that you don’t eat meat overcomes some people who want to know the whys and hows of it all. Becoming a vegetarian was a gradual but easy transition for me, what I was not prepared for was the questions.
People change their diet for many reasons. For me, becoming vegetarian wasn’t because of any moral high standing, it was simply a health choice I made. When I was 21 I was diagnosed with an under-active thyroid. While a normal TSH level is between three and five (or so I was told), mine was at 162 when first detected. It’s safe to say my body was in a complete mess; and I felt every bit of it.
Through medication and exercise I slowly got myself back together and began to feel somewhat normal. However the chronic fatigue was and still is something I’ve just had to get used to. The weight steadily dropped however it still remains a balancing act, but the exhaustion I feel on a daily basis is just normal to me now; I don’t remember what real normal feels like.
Last year, in 2015 aged 25, I was diagnosed with Haemochromatosis. This means I have too much iron in my blood and am unable to break it down like everyone else can. As it doesn’t pass through me, it has to go somewhere and deposits itself on major organs like the liver and heart. There’s no medication for Haemochromatosis, it’s treated through getting regular IV’s (blood taken).
After doing a lot of research into this condition, which by the way also causes chronic fatigue so I get the double whammy here, I found that a change of diet may help to naturally reduce the iron levels. So I began to gradually wean off meat, red meat went straight away the rest soon to follow. Bit by bit I stopped eating meat until in April 2016 I decided to give it all up altogether and haven’t touched it since. The difference in how I feel has been substantial.
With the venesections my iron levels weren’t dropping and in one instance they actually went up. They were in the 400 range for a few months, with the doctor getting frustrated as to why they wouldn’t budge. Since I stopped eating meat they have fallen naturally into normal range, without so much as one VS since January 2015.
My energy and concentration levels are way up, but more importantly the way I feel is on the rise. As someone who struggles with anxiety and depression, this new diet has really lifted my spirits. Aside from hungover weeks (drink hits me like a tonne of bricks and is going to have to be the next elimination) I feel incredible. I’m working for myself now and getting a lot more done than I ever did, I’m running again albeit short distances but at a speed I never ran even when I constantly trained.
As I’m sure every vegetarian goes through, I decided to try a vegan diet which I religiously stuck to for about three weeks. I was like a new woman, I was bouncing off the walls with energy I never felt before. My skin was amazing, I felt amazing, I was exercising loads; it was a new lease of life. As hangovers tend to do, I fell off the wagon and into a cheese pasta dish during one midweek hangover. It was all down hill from there.
Although I still stick to vegetarian the vegan is a lot more testing, but something I will be working on over the next while. As I don’t eat much dairy anyway, I assumed the transition would be easy but I’m finding it’s the hidden ingredients that catch you; who knew there was milk in crisps!
Alcohol is another major block in my road to recovery so that’s the next thing to tackle. The anxiety for a full week after alcohol is not worth it I’m afraid.
I don’t miss meat and I’ll never go back to it. Bar the odd tuna craving (strange but I was a massive tuna fan) it doesn’t cost me a thought to not eat it. Feeling this good certainly makes me want to stay on track and get even better.
This decision wasn’t on doctors orders or advised by a nutritionist, it’s just one I decided to follow myself and it’s working for me. I wouldn’t preach to others that it will help them but if you’re not feeling well or have similar health conditions to me I would advise to try it; it won’t hurt and may be a new lease of life.