I have loved animals my whole life, and I always felt a little guilty whenever I would share a video of a cow wearing a flower crown and then going out to dinner and ordering steak.

Eating meat seemed hypocritical, so I did some research on the subject. What I found was not only devastating to me, but it changed the way I viewed diet and food in general. I disagreed with the treatment of animals, the environmental impacts and the possible health concerns related to eating meat. In April of 2018, I decided I would eliminate meat from my diet. I was extremely surprised at the changes that happened to my body within the first month of going meat-free and the lessons I learned in the process.

I was foolish at the time and didn’t consult my doctor and rushed into it too quickly. Any drastic dietary change affects the entire body, and as a result, I felt awful. During the first week, I felt as if I was going through withdrawals. My stomach was constantly aching and my skin was breaking out with red patches of acne. These symptoms made quitting this new diet very tempting.

I was so worried I had made myself sick that I went looking for answers. So, like I should have done in the first place, I called my doctor, and she provided me with those answers. My skin was breaking out because I was lacking a vitamin called B-12, which is found predominately in animal products. I was experiencing indigestion from the drastic change, and I felt awful. She recommended daily vitamins in place of meat that ultimately saved me from hurting myself. Again, I strongly recommend asking your doctor before making any major dietary adjustments.

One month into not eating meat and taking the recommended vitamins, I noticed some uplifting changes. I noticed my skin was clearer than it had ever been, I had shed some weight around my stomach area and I had so much more energy.

Before this meat-free diet, I suffered from chronic fatigue. I was constantly tired and sluggish even with a full night of sleep, but that changed completely when I stopped eating meat. I stopped eating fast food, as most menu items contain meat, and I just felt good about myself. I wasn’t starving myself with a strict diet because I was actually eating way more food than I ever had before.

Since I was nourishing myself, I didn’t crave sugars, salts or any unhealthy food in general. This was astounding to me because I had tried diets in the past and they always failed. I would eat smaller meals three times a day, but I would end up ordering pizza because I was starving. Since I was eating lower calorie meals with bigger portions, I didn’t feel like I was on a diet.

I never connected my constant fatigue and issues with my diet until I started this eating routine, and it really opened my eyes to the benefits of healthy eating.

The message here isn’t to go vegetarian. The message here is to think before you eat and make sure you aren’t drastically changing your diet without consulting a doctor. Otherwise, the results may be alarming. What you put into your body matters, and you will feel what you eat way past the actual time of consumption. Eating more vegetables and less meat changed my body and helped me in more ways than just solving a moral dilemma.

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