Well, I have now been meat-free for two weeks and I am LOVING it! I feel better than I have in years. I have more energy and I actually feel happier. It seems odd that a change in how I eat would make a difference in my emotional state, but it really seems to have done just that. I also love that I can eat so many of the things I love like rice, couscous, beans, etc. Since the calories in each meal are typically quite a bit lower than those including meat, I am able to make certain changes and/or additions which make the food taste better and are often healthier. For example, I can cook more often using olive oil rather than cooking spray. I can include cheese a little more often.
I have also been able to add in treats a bit more often. YAY!!! Real Ice Cream!
Tim and I have both noticed a huge increase in our levels of satisfaction with our meals. We stay fuller longer. I am eating far less between meals now; normally just a piece of fruit and a granola bar mid-afternoon so that I have energy for my after-work workout. I have had far fewer sweet cravings than I normally do. The only problem I have experienced is getting enough calories!
My initial reasons for becoming vegetarian were primarily health based. The ethical and environmental benefits were just "bonuses". That balance has gradually shifted as I have done my research. It is now pretty equal between all three. The things I have read about conditions of animals as well as the amount of pollution generated and resources used in the meat industry, are shocking and most times completely revolting. I am more and more certain that this is a permanent lifestyle change. I just cannot look at a steak the same way ever again.
As a side note, I am finally up to where I was at towards the end of May with my running. It has taken longer than I hoped to get back, but now I am ready to move forward again!