At the young age of 10ish years old and I made a life-changing decision. I told my parents that I didn't want to kill or eat animals. Since then, I've been a woman of my word.
Of course, leave it to the vegetarian to forget about World Vegetarian Day on Monday October 1st!!!
I guess my lifestyle of being fueled by plants for almost 20 years (April will officially be 20 years since I had my last chicken nugget) makes it easy for me to overlook a day that pays tribute to humans, animals and the planet.
I am a supporter of a plant strong diet but as a clinical dietitian AND endurance triathlete, I keep a very open mind when it comes to the individual diet. You do not have to be a vegetarian to be healthy and a meat-free diet doesn't mean your body will become healthy. Health is something that you feel - it is a way of life and I hope everyone is enjoying a diet that emphasizes real food.
In my early days, my vegetarian diet consisted of a lot of cheese, pasta, pizza, cheeze-it's and pretzels and emphasized little "color" unless you count bagel bites, air head candy and skittles.
Over the last 8-10 years, I've probably made the most nutritional changes in my vegetarian diet in terms of having a "healthy" diet. In the last 6 years, I have learned how to eat for fuel and for health.. Learning more about variety, balance and the nutritional value of certain food sources, I've become more appreciative of what I put into my body on a daily basis. Despite being an endurance athlete, my quality of life is my first priority.
Performance gains, consistent training, optimal health and PR's....well those are just positive side effects of my yummy choices of "fuel".
Based on this year.....I think things are working out just fine.
Branson Triathlon Magazine RESULTS
Coliseum Rock n' Rollman Half RESULTS
Iron Girl Clearwater Half marathon RESULTS
But let's be honest....this isn't my first year of triathlons......every year is requires hard work, learning and a few mistakes along the way.
As a health professional, I try to remove my own personal biases when it comes to what works for me and how I choose to live my life. I have an extreme soft spot in my heart for animals (if you couldn't tell already) and I am comfortable with my choices to not eat any animals besides dairy, whey and eggs.
I don't feel there is a perfect diet but rather diets that are well supportive of research as to what should be included for optimal health. I do not advocate for anyone to be meat-free in order to be healthy but I strongly advise and recommend others to incorporate more variety and wholesome foods in the diet.
Of course, I find that the best role I have is to inspire others and not to preach. This is why you will not find me discussing "bad" food in my blog or in articles and I hold back wasting my time on diet fads that appeal to the masses. It isn't worth my time or energy to tell you what not to eat so I'd rather focus on all the amazingly nutritious foods out there by overwhelming your eyes with my new yummy creations.
And above all.....I practice what I preach so you won't find me (or Karel) with an off-food list or restricting food because some nutrition guru tells me I'll get fat if I eat it. We don't "diet" to make weight for races, we train hard and let our bodies take care of themselves by becoming strong. You won't see me posting pics of food at work and then eating ice cream for dinner. I own my style of eating and I'm proud to show everyone what I am eating. Most of all, it makes me happy and my role in life is to help others (as a licensed dietitian) find what works for them.
And for all the athletes out there questioning about where I get my protein and why I haven't been sick for 4+ years (despite working in a hospital, working out at a gym, completing 3 Ironman's in the past 4 years), I don't have a medicine cabinet full of supplements, I take no prescription pills and I don't drink protein powder all day. My food is my medicine and with 25g (tops) of whey protein a day, I receive all my protein from food.
I hope you enjoy my latest creation...enjoyed by me and Karel last night in honor of World Vegetarian Day ......which is every day for me :)
Nectarine (or peaches)
Kale, spinach, arugula
Veronica's Health CrunchYellow bell pepper
Salsa - dressing (not pictured)