How I Got Stronger and Healthier After Giving Up Animal Products
“Your body is precious. It is your vehicle for awakening. Treat it with care.” ~Buddha
Not that long ago, I ate meat every single day. Every. Single. Day. For breakfast, I used to have fried eggs with feta or cottage cheese and turkey ham. My lunch consisted of minced beef or chicken with veggies. My dinner was then either leftovers from lunch or more meat/fried eggs/sometimes fish with veggies and cheese.
I followed an intense workout routine, went to the gym five to six times per week to lift weights, and on top of that did another two cardio sessions per week in a beautiful park close to my apartment.
The best I could do for my health, according to my personal trainer, was to stick to a high-protein, low-carb diet with lots of animal protein and avoid refined sugar. That also meant to drink one or two whey shakes per day.
For some people, this might sound exhausting or even brutal. At the time, though, I loved my fitness lifestyle and was proud to be as lean as I was.
For two years, this was my life, until I was offered a job abroad, which I accepted totally thrilled. This new opportunity was so exciting and full of possibilities! Sadly, I had to reduce my workouts and started to lapse when it came to my diet, meaning I ate significantly more carbs than before.
I worked non-stop around the clock. Soon, I started to get sick more often. Despite a job change, things got worse.
There was always something wrong with my body, either infections or injuries, which prevented me then from working out. The lack of exercise in turn led to feeling weaker. On top of that, I had to deal with a very toxic work environment, constant stress, internal gossip, difficult clients, and a lack of professional structure to only name a few unpleasant job-related factors.
Whenever I was feeling slightly better, I used to fall ill again. I started to gain weight and lost muscle mass. It was like a vicious circle with no way out.
The biggest support came from my boyfriend, who was there to take care of me. He was and still is my emotional rock. I don’t know what I would have done without him.
Once you move abroad, your social circle shrinks considerably (at least mine did), thus making it hard to not feel lonely at times. Most of my closest friends who are my social support system live either in my home country or in other parts of the world making it difficult to connect.
This state of mental and physical exhaustion lasted for a year and a half until I found the courage to walk away and quit my job. Once I had done that, I’d gotten rid of one of my biggest stress factors. Finally, I had time to focus on taking care of my health, body, and mind again.
As a documentary lover, I started watching food and health related documentaries. They all had one strong message in common: the promotion of a plant-based diet. According to those documentaries, following a whole-food, plant-based diet solves a lot of environmental and, to my surprise, health issues. I was intrigued!
I had a couple of friends following a plant-based diet already, so the idea wasn’t entirely new to me. A few weeks before quitting my job, I had suffered another internal infection and, therefore, reduced my meat intake to only once a month, following the advice of my gastroenterologist.