So people always find it crazy when I tell them “I am a vegetarian”. Like as if the only people who practice this lifestyle is hippies and earth freaks… I’m far from being a hippie, but I do care about my Planet. However, this wasn’t the reason I decided to become a vegetarian.
If you didn’t know already, I began modeling in 2001 and in the beginning of my career, I was an average sized young lady. Standing at 5’10” and weighing in at 125lbs. It really didn’t help that I was doing Track & Field in high school and was lifting weights to tone my upper body. Well little did I know, after graduating high school my modeling would take off. I was getting the calls I wanted, different companies wanting to work with me, becoming a signature model for a couple photographers. I was doing quite well. One thing I did not continue to do was workout to maintain my muscle tone and eat well. Therefore, I become kind of like… the Amazon Woman, as they say- tall with a solid body frame, but still fit. If I was to name someone who’d remind me of this type, it is Gabrielle Reece. She’s such beautiful women too btw.
After a couple of years, I noticed I wasn’t getting as many auditions as I use to. I did get Fashion Week and some photo shoots here and there. I noticed more of the other girls were picked for more positions (along with some other reasons, but I won’t get into that) than I was and I wanted to know what was up… remember, I was getting paid for the amount of jobs I committed to. So without my agent pulling me to the side, I decided to approach the situation. She ended up telling me that I was too “thick” for the tastes of many designers and photographers. I wish someone would’ve told me this soon because I didn’t notice the difference. I was never a small girl. While talking to her and finding out ways I could maintain my weight, she suggested that I do core exercising or to become a vegetarian. Looking back on it, I’m not sure how she came up with this solution because it I was basically headed into a down spiral with my health and weight just because they intended on working with models who were under the size 2… size 4 was acceptable. I was a size 6-8.
I found out that transitioning to only vegetables wasn’t the hard thing for me… it was finding the time to prepare healthy meals, finding time through my schedule to go shopping, finding the money to re-up on meals when I was trying to do important things with my money and more. It was easy for me to change to this lifestyle because I wasn’t a big fan of pork and I rarely ate beef. Now, since I’m from the coast (Charleston, SC), I found it a little difficult giving up seafood- blue crabs, crawfish, snow crab legs, oysters. That was more of a challenge for me, but I did it. How I did this was finding meals that I enjoyed eating that didn’t contain any meat and basically ate that everyday. Since, I was a server on the side at an Americanized-Italian Restaurant, I found it easier to eat food there while on break which helped me choose more healthier things too- like eggplant with vegetables and whole wheat pasta. I was good- for now. Now I mentioned I was working at a restaurant. When I worked, I usually worked doubles and that ended up getting in the way of me eating too. Here’s how: I rarely found time to eat breakfast because it was hard to shop with my schedule. The only time I ate was during my break which would be around 3 to 4pm. When it was time to get off, the time was usually 11 to 12 midnight. During our shifts, we barely could eat anything because it we moved around too much to have that opportunity to stand in one place for one minute. Now, keep reading…
After about 4 years into this lifestyle, I noticed my health changing: I had migraines some days, my hair and nails would grow every other month or so, my vision started getting bad, I had no energy, I literally felt like my brain wasn’t developing, I couldn’t remember anything, my skin started becoming dry, my top layer of my nails would always peel, and a few more things. During this time, I moved away from home in order to get my acting career going (I retired from the modeling scene) and relocated to Atlanta, GA. At first, it was awesome. I then noticed that the job I transferred with wasn’t bringing in money anymore, so that meant that I had to cut back on acting training and more time making money. There wasn’t money, so there was no food. The only food I could afford was at the restaurant or processed foods and snacks that cost little to nothing and we all know that’s not health. During this time, I was not getting ANY nutrition. It was a horrible experience. Then, when I’d get sick (like the flu or cold), it got bad… fainting, drowsiness and no appetite. My body was crying for help and I couldn’t do much about it because I wasn’t making the money and I wanted to be where the scene was for entertainers. Long story short, after 6 years of being a vegetarian I decided it was time to incorporate something in the foods I ate. I chose this food because of it’s health benefits: Omega-3, Protein, Vitamin B & D, and necessary minerals like Phosphorous and Selenium. Where was all of this in my previous meal plans? I am still not eating pork, beef, or chicken and most likely I probably never will.
Below, are two of many dishes that I enjoy eating now. Let me say I do not eat like this every night and I’d consume [Salmon] at least 2-3 times/wk.
|Grilled Wild Salmon Seasoned with Lemon Pepper and Sea Salt. Side of Brown Rice and Sun-dried Tomatoes and Mixed Vegetables Including Sweet Baby Carrots, Cauliflower and Snap Peas.|
|1 Cup of Angel Hair with Olive Oil Mix (Recipe Coming Soon) and Grilled Wild Salmon Seasoned with Lemon Pepper,, EVOO and Sea Salt|
What I have learned about my body and the steps I took to being a vegetarian was that I did it all wrong in the beginning. I didn’t do my research. I thought I could eat anything I wanted just as long as it didn’t have any meat and I’d be fine. I didn’t have my daily dose of vitamins, minerals, fiber and all the essentials you need to maintain the perfect body. Maybe one day, I’ll choose to practice this lifestyle again. Who knows, lol? So, with everything said I decided to add salmon in some of my favorite dishes. Instead of eating out like I did most of the time, I’m cooking in-home more and paying attention to calories, fiber and fat percentage that’s in the foods I eat. I’m doing better. My mind literally feels like it’s functioning again. That sounds so weird saying it, but like I explained to my former manager , “I literally feel like my brain isn’t working- I can’t think, I can’t hold a thought, my brain feels like it’s drawing squiggly lines”. He thought it was funny when I said it, but in actuality, my body was breaking down and I didn’t even know it. My advice for anyone thinking of joining this lifestyle is to learn from my mistake. Research before actually committing. Understand that just because meat isn’t included, it doesn’t make it a healthy choice.
Oh and by the way, my nails are growing sooo much faster now that I’ve decided to change in eating habits. It’s annoying how many times I have to bring out the nail clipper lol.