Today marks one year since I gave up meat and I thought I’d talk a little about how it’s been. I gave up meat for two main reasons. A meat-free diet is proven to lower the risks of dying of a heart-related incident, which clearly would be nice (although the benefits are greatest for cholesterol problems which I don’t have). And I also believe that by eating less meat, we in the west have the ability to help lessen world hunger. So my reasons were health and ethics driven. (Having said that, I am NOT here to say ‘Hey, give up meat!’ You eat what you want and I’ll do the same.)
It’s been surprisingly easy. Admittedly, I live in a part of the world where it’s very easy to be meat-free. There is a meat-free culture here in the Bay Area that I wouldn’t find in the Midwest for example or even in the UK or Europe. That has made the transition much easier. I thought I would want bacon and sausages but actually no – although I haven’t visited the UK in the past year where I would whimper at the smell of a bacon sandwich. In fact, the one thing I’ve missed is rotisserie chicken that you get from supermarkets. They smell SO good and I find my hand reaching out towards them in the kitchen without me even knowing it.
I’ve eaten meat a handful of times this year – once at a friend’s who made me dinner, once after a race when all that was available was a hot dog and I was starving and once when I was out for dinner with the Husband and he ordered duck pate, which I love. I’m not particularly fussed about labelling myself as a ‘vegetarian’ and abiding by ‘rules’ that unseen people make about what vegetarians should do and not do. If I go travelling and the local speciality is a meat dish, I will taste it, like I did in Colorado when I tried a mouthful of my first bison burger.
What’s interesting is how vegetables have become so much more appealing to me this year. I always liked vegetables but now I LOVE them. I’ve fallen madly in love with sweet potatoes, mushrooms, black beans, lentils and kale. I never saw me getting excited about mushrooms! And cherry tomatoes? Like little mouthfuls of happiness in the summer!
I don’t feel particularly different. I did sneakily hope to get that lovely thin vegetarian look but I haven’t lost (or put on) weight at all. I need to be careful about replacing meat with additional carbs. I think I feel a little healthier but the main benefit has been not needing to worry when food scares relating to meat come along in the news. I feel grateful to be out of that loop. I can also look chickens and cows in the eye these days, which is nice 🙂 It doesn’t seem to have affected my running at all either – there are so many vegetarian runners on the internet that I wasn’t particularly concerned on that front.
I’ve been really lucky that the Husband has supported me – I can imagine it would be difficult if he was against this. He eats meat at lunchtime at work and has been really up for eating vegetarian at night, for which I’m grateful. The Dude eats what we eat, but I’m still feeding him meat roughly 3 or 4 times a week as I’m not confident my meatless meal planning would sustain a growing boy.
My favourite recipe sources are mainly online – I love the Wholefoods recipe finder and can’t speak highly enough of OhMyVeggies.com, which does easy, every-day dinners so well. I also like Kitchen Treaty and am starting to explore Oh She Glows, which everyone’s raving about!
So I’m going to continue eating meat-free for the foreseeable future. I like it…it’s been a real pleasure this year. Here’s to another year of kale salads 🙂
Inspire me…what’s your favourite veggie recipe?