So apparently actress Hayden Panettiere of “Heroes” fame has ditched her vegetarian diet. I saw the article about it on a blog I’m happy to have discovered, called Ecorazzi.com. In case it isn’t immediately evident (it took me a minute) it’s a celebrity blog with an eco flair. I love it and you should check it out.
My first thought when I saw the headline was that Panettiere shouldn’t go off her vegetarian diet. My second thought was that I wished it wasn’t considered news. We don’t really need publicity against the vegetarian lifestyle, we need more publicity for it and celebrities, like it or not, are influential, especially to younger people.
According to the article, Panettiere decided to go off her vegetarian diet because “her body didn’t respond well to it.”
She goes on to explain,
I used to run an hour every day… (but) my body shut down. I was low-energy.”
I initially found this surprising, because my energy level went through the roof after a couple of months on a vegetarian diet. But then I remembered my first weeks of trial and error.
I ate an awful lot of pasta in the beginning, trying to fill up on spaghetti and noodles with heavy sauces to make up for what I though would the space left behind by steaks and chicken and other meat dishes. I also ate a lot of baked goods, such as muffins and bagels, in place of bacon and eggs.
I, too, felt somewhat sluggish, probably because I was eating a ton of carbs and not much protein. I was also eating more sugar than I did on my old diet, probably because I thought I had more leeway, having given up all the fat and calories I was getting from meat.
This is a really common pattern for vegetarians, beginners and otherwise.
The vegetarian diet can give you a ton of energy and help you to build a healthier, stronger body. As the Ecorazzi blog points out, there are a number of Olympians who are vegetarians. I also know dancers, runners and mothers of toddlers who do just fine on a vegetarian diet.
However, these vegetarians are paying close attention to the foods they eat, not just omitting meat. It’s essential for vegetarians to eat a balnced diet that includes plenty of protein and healthy carbs that come from fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and grains.
I hope that Panettiere gives the vegetarian lifestyle another shot. I also hope that meat eaters who read about her change of heart don’t think, “See, vegetarians are weak and wan and unhealthy.”
Nothing could be further from the truth.