Why I don’t give anything up for Lent…or ever.

I can’t speak for other parts of the world, but for some reason Lent has become the second time around ‘New Years Resolution’ of America, especially when it comes to food. If you fell off the wagon between January 1st and Ash Wednesday, here is your chance to get back on. And whether you honor Lent because of your religion and its’ true meaning, or you just want to give up that one vice for 40 days that you’ve been holding onto, at some point someone is going to ask, “So, what are you giving up for Lent?”.

Generally, you might get a reaction out of me like this…

Disgusting...

Don’t be offended….it’s not personal.

To those who choose to sacrifice something because of their faith, good for you! But, much like New Years Resolutions, I hate having to give up the things I enjoy most. Which for me, always revolves around food.

And the occasional adult beverage…

Or two.

Okay three. But only if it’s a special occasion…

Like a Wednesday night*.

Come on, what do you expect? We don’t have kids yet.

There is only one New Years Resolution I have ever made related to food, and it was New Years Eve, December 2010. I made the decision that I would become a vegetarian for one year beginning January 1, 2011. It’s now February 2012 and not only have I stuck with it, but I’ve progressed beyond what I ever expected. Even when I decided to become vegetarian, I never saw it as a diet, or a restriction, but as a lifestyle change. I was excited to discover the new things that I could add to my meals, and not even thinking about what I was taking away. My initial decision was based solely on health (but more on that in a later post). I knew from previous experience that I felt better, slept better, and even had more energy when I didn’t eat meat. The only thing stopping me was the fear of inconvenience. And the fear of rejection from social situations. Oh, and that my husband is a meat ‘n potatoes kinda guy. Well, and I guess the fact that the media is constantly telling everyone that vegetarian/vegan ‘diets’ are more expensive.

Ok, so maybe inconvenience wasn’t the only thing.

Aside from those who suffer from serious food, alcohol and/or drug addictions, depriving yourself of anything will almost always result in a regretful binge later. Those carbs you are avoiding in hopes of losing the last 10lbs? They’re coming back the day you start eating them again, only double. That sugar you crave all the time and have vowed to banish from your cupboard until Easter Sunday? You’ll be eating it on Monday. So if it has nothing to do with religion, is it worth it? I can’t speak for everyone, but cravings for me are my body’s way of saying I’m lacking in something else, and most of the time it’s a vital nutrient. Eventually I stop craving those ‘bad’ foods for their more pleasant relative, the ‘good’ foods. I know this sounds cliché, but I truly believe moderation really is the key. Even for those red-meat loving omnivores. Bottom line….please educate yourself before turning to deprivation!

Cutting meat out of my food regimen was easy because I didn’t love it, or crave it. I ate it because it was easy, and convenient. By focusing on what I could add, I didn’t miss what I was omitting, or rather – replacing.  As far as my own journey goes, I’m still struggling with the committment to a fully plant-based diet. The occasional fish dishes and cheese sprinkles are killing me! But again, why? Not because I enjoy them, but because it’s convenient and most of the time happens in social situations.

My advice to anyone who wants to live a healthier, plant-based lifestyle is to start small. Add one plant-based meal to your week. If you eat a lot of red meat, try switching to a leaner type of meat like ground turkey. Everyone has to start somewhere, and no one journey is the same. But you’ll never know until you try.

*I’m totally kidding. It at least has to be the weekend.

Have you ever considered going plant-based? Where are you on your journey? What are your thoughts on quitting a food cold-turkey??

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