Vegetarian vs. Paleo

My mom was a vegetarian and wanted us to grow up sans meat.  Everyone in the family knew not to give the Torres kids animal products.  When I was three-years –old, my mom picked me up from my grandmother’s house to find me under the table gnawing on a chicken leg.   So began my love/hate relationship with the carnivore lifestyle.

I was a vegetarian, a pescatarian, a lacto-ovo vegetarian, a vegan, a raw foodie.  Although I ate a healthy diet with very little sugar in it, I still struggled with my weight, yo-yoing back and forth between the same twenty pounds.  It wasn’t until I incorporated meat and fewer grains in my diet that my weight began to stabilize.   The problem was I felt a tremendous amount of guilt every time I ate a piece of grilled chicken or beef.   I’d read Sinclair’s, “The Jungle.”  I’d seen the PETA ads.  I knew what happened in those slaughter houses.   How could I justify my new meat eating ways?

After reading Rob Wolf’s, “The Paleo Solution,” I decided to do a little experiment with my body.  I started eating only organic, pasteurized, free-range, happy meat; that helped assuage my guilt a little because I knew the animals had a decent life while they were here.  (Sappy, I know.)  I took all the dairy, grains, and legumes out of my diet.  The dairy was easy since I’d been doing the vegan thing for some time.  The grains were a serious challenge.  I was a bit of a pasta/cereal/bread junkie and there was an initial withdrawal period where I was really cranky.

After eating this way for just a few days I started to notice dramatic changes in my body and mind.  My ADHD calmed down a bit and it became easier to focus on things.  I no longer experienced a mid-day crash.  The constant bloating dissipated completely.  I felt amazing!!!

Fast forward a few years.  I still eat this way.   Every now and then, I’ll fall off the wagon and have something naughty:  a slice of pizza, frozen yogurt, rice and beans (I am Puerto Rican after all).  The funny thing is, every single time I fall off the wagon, I feel like complete crap.  My digestion gets all messed up, my stomach bloats, and I look slightly pregnant.   I require frequent naps and feel super distracted and foggy.  I don’t think it’s coincidental.

Am I saying you must eat Paleo and that vegetarianism is wrong.  Absolutely not.  I do believe it’s important to listen to your body, though.  Try taking out some food groups for a few weeks and slowly reintroduce them.  See how you feel.  Your body will tell you what it needs.   My body just happens to operate best on a ton of veggies, organic meat/poultry, wild caught seafood, some fruit, and copious amounts of healthy fat.   Happy eating 🙂

If anyone reading this is doing some experimenting of their own, I’d love to hear your stories….

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