Welcome to Step 2 of How to Live Forever in Ten Easy Steps:
2) Go Only Partially Vegetarian:
If you’re a close reader of my blog, you’ll be familiar with my philosophy on vegetarianism: I embrace the cuisine from a style and health standpoint, but my wife and I only masquerade as vegetarians. We are both fundamentally omnivores and not apologetic about it.
It's a simple fact that vegetarian cuisine is typically higher in fiber, lower in fat and sodium, and all around healthier than a typical meat-centered cuisine. The added advantage of vegetarian food is its diversity and originality. You’ll be surprised, even after just a cursory look, at the ethnic diversity and wide variety of ingredients in most vegetarian cookbooks. I think it’s because vegetarians tend to be more cuisine-curious than the average omnivore (this is an unscientific opinion based on my completely anecdotal experience with lots of vegetarian friends).
But at the risk of annoying both vegetarians and meat-eaters, I strongly urge you to eat some meat (or dairy) on occasion too, just not every day.
Why? Mainly, I just think it’s best to be absolutely sure you get the full complement of amino acids, fats and other nutrients that can be pretty hard to replicate on a strict vegetarian diet.
Please keep in mind--I’m not trying to make any argument for or against vegetarianism, as I’m obviously a fan of it as a cuisine. For our part, we eat meat usually two to three times a week at most, although we tend to stick to leaner meats like chicken (although we’ll indulge in a burger or even some extraordinarily high-fat corned beef and cabbage on occasion too).
And if you are stepping up your exercise meaningfully (see #7 below), it will be even more important to follow the “eat meat every few days” maxim. I have personal experience trying to run a marathon in my mid-20’s on a very low-protein diet, where I was unable to maintain muscle mass during my peak training months. I suffered many more training injuries as well as compromises to my immune system back then compared to marathons I ran later in life when I was on a more balanced diet. I’ll cover this subject in more depth in a future post about how to think about issues regarding diet and food energy density during athletic training.
For the normal people out there not running marathons, just keep in mind that most meats are highly energy-dense. Therefore, for most people, reducing your meat intake and replacing it with antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables will give you a really easy way to keep your weight down and improve your overall health.
For a list of recommendations of my favorite vegetarian cookbooks, take a look at the bottom of my Try Veggie post.
Next: Step 3: Avoid Processed Foods