Heading Towards a Meat Free Life

Interestingly this post has been sat in my drafts for the past five months!  I wrote it before I did Veganuary then when I came off that I went back to Paleo but now I’m heading back to a plant based diet which means I hardly eat any meat now (nor eggs, nor diary).  So I thought you’d like to read it to see where I’m at.

Also interesting – when I did Veganuary I didn’t put any weight on –  but because I felt I’d eaten too much rubbish over the course of four weeks I headed straight back onto Paleo (safety blanket) where I discovered I was putting on pounds every single week.  After six weeks and no let up on the weight increase,  I started to really panic.  What the hell was going on?

In the end I thought this is ridiculous.  I’m still eating too much meat, i’m putting on weight, and after being a vegan for a month walking down the meat aisle in a supermarket was making me feel nauseous.

I don’t particularly like the term vegan because it’s more of a lifestyle choice than a diet.  I found myself during Veganuary doubting everything about my life, what I did, bought and used in such a way it was rather a negative approach that left me deflated after four weeks of the challenge.

So, I’m ditching trying to be 100% vegan and instead aiming for a plant based diet, which means I’m concentrating only on what I eat.

One thing is for sure Veganuary changed the way I think about food.  This is an ongoing development for me that is constantly evolving and changing both in mindset and theory.  Food and what we eat isn’t quite as simple as I first thought!

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Picture this – there I am sat at a table tucking into ribs, or devouring half a chicken, or a blue steak.  My meat feasts used to be the fascination of my partner who used to look at me gone out because I could eat so much meat.

Not only that I could eat every type of meat, every part of an animal (apart from the brain), and in all sorts of different cooked states.  It wouldn’t be unusual for friends to look in awe at me during an outing to a steak house where I’d happily knock back a 10-oz  rib eye and not leave anything but a very dry bone on my plate.  As for BBQ’s it was like a scene from the Serengeti when I’d finished eating.

If it sounds amusing I am only pleased I saw the light of day, which of course, I’d known all my life but just chose to ignore.  Not now though:

I’m officially on my way to a meat-free life.

Now I’m eating less than 50% meat (and fish) per week which is what I set out on my Life Ticket to achieve.

I’d been subconsciously moving away from meat for quite a while, but until I monitored my meals for the previous couple of weeks I wasn’t totally sure I’d reached it.  In fact it turns out I’m more like 75% meat free.

So good news for me because now not only have I saved a few animals, saved some serious money and added a few more benefits to my ever increasing health, I’m also discovering new foods, new recipes, and I even shop differently.

But is that enough?

One thing I was concerned with when I started moving away from my meat intensive diet was whether I’d put weight on.  Weight I’d carefully managed to get rid of last yr through eating an exclusive paleo diet.  Yes, it would have been terribly easy to put weight on through eating bread, crisps and cheese but I’ve pretty much been able to avoid all three (mostly, though I’m no where near perfect on achieving that 100%!). **Apart from January**

**Main meals have and continue to be the hardest area to go plant based**  

The question I sometimes get asked is:- Why don’t I just stop eating meat?  Well because I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy meat.

I believe if you’re going to eat meat (as I still do), that buying meat which has come from animals in free range or organic circumstances, on small scale farms, or indeed if it’s been shot in season (I’m talking about grouse and other field birds) then it’s better to eat meat from these sources than mass scaled factory animals.  I don’t wish nor need to support that kind of “farming”.  It’s a health choice (to some extent) and a ethical choice (for you, not the animal because it’s still being killed).

Remember when it comes to weight loss – whole foods, including meat are are still better for you than processed crap.  Truth.  But that whole plant based foods are even better than meat long terms. Better truth.

The real matter is whether as a consumer I understand what I’m eating and that I never, ever disassociate the meat from the animal as is all too easy to do when it’s packaged up on a brightly lit shop shelf. **Since Veganuary it doesn’t even have to be packaged up**

Western culture has come to heavily rely on meat as our main source of food on every plate and this should not be the case.  The less humane standards adhered to for the animal and the more expensive meat gets then we have to recognise that it’s just not fair continuing to consume food in that way.  Just another reason for me to move away from meat.

Well that and also the abundance of studies and papers which aim to show that the more veggies you eat the less likely you are to get sick.  In some cases illnesses have been turned around by adopting a veggie/vegan diet.  Sure I don’t know the people behind the studies, nor can I prove they work but I believe in what I’m being told and shown.

Inside my own conscious is telling me this feels right and that is good enough for me.

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I’ve been doing some heavy research just lately around nutrition and there seems to be two main diets in the world which come with their own distinct processes, theories and evidence.

  • High fat, low carb (Paleo)
  • High carb, low fat (plant based)

Plus another which isn’t a diet per se but more analytically based findings of diets around the world where people have and continue to live longest  – the Blue Zones

When I’ve finished my investigations and reading’s I’ll put up another blog post about my thoughts because it’s all rather fascinating.

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Where do you stand on food?  

Is a little of what you like better than worrying about what you eat?  Do you think the Western diet is slowly changing due to the fact we don’t have the resources available for such meat intense diets?  Or do you think we just need to change our farming methods?
Is being healthy more important than being ethical?

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9 responses to “Heading Towards a Meat Free Life

  1. I fell down the rabbit’s hole of this topic in 2006 while looking for nutritious, easy to digest meals to fix for my dad after his chemo treatments – and yes! it can get overwhelming,

    Because once you start investigating, it’s not hard to end up

    – at political arena regarding whether life should have been patented (GMOs) –

    -human rights (poverty stricken areas ‘gifted’ hybrid seeds, instead of heirloom ones that actually had a chance of sustainability for them) –

    – energy consumption and global warming (link to original source no longer there – so here’s the quote by Steven L. Hopp:

    “A quick way to improve food-related fuel economy would be to buy a quart of motor oil and drink it. More palatable options are available. If every U.S. citizen ate just one meal a week (any meal) composed of locally and organically raised meats and produce, we would reduce our country’s oil consumption by over 1.1 million barrels of oil every week. That’s not gallons, but barrels.”

    Ahhh… what fun! With the latest ‘gluten-free’ trend, every health care specialist/provider I work with is telling me to quit eating bread/pasta – what they don’t know is I buy wheat from a local farmer who plants his fields with the descendants of the seeds his great-grandfather planted 80 years ago – and that I sprout them, or let them raise over night,.. 🙂

    Both sides of my family can trace their ancestry back to northern Europe – so guess what? We have nearly 1,000 years worth of DNA mutations that allowed us peasants to survive off rye bread – and not a lot of meat, like the local lord of the manor had access to – (although I’m sure we poached a few tidbits when we could from his forest…:)

    Sorry for the long comment, this is a subject dear to my heart – I applaud your self-observations and willingness to explore different paths – don’t get too overwhelmed – do what you can, when you can and listen to your body – one by one you will integrate things that really fulfill the ripple wave effect of benefiting others while concentrating on your own back yard! 🙂

    • Thank you so much for your lovely comment. Food becomes even more important when we talk about health. Even I forget sometimes that what ever I put in my mouth is going to have an effect (good/bad) somewhere down the line.
      Regarding GMOs etc – you’re right on target. We need to take back control of our food chain. Most of the time we have no idea what we’re eating (especially when it comes in fancy packets and boxes) and even fresh food can have so many pesticides and antibiotics in it that we’d really be better off without! That’s why I’m passionate about getting so many people to Grow their Own food. That way we have full control over what we eat, when we eat it and how it’s grown. Can there be anything better than that?
      And don’t even get me started on how big businesses monopolise the food chain! I could discuss this all day 🙂

  2. We’ve been trying to move from a heavily processed “typical” American diet to a more plant based diet for awhile now. We are making changes in that direction, and we are trying to do it slowly so that the changes are sustainable. One of our most recent changes has been to cut out meat 2-3 days a week. I’m also trying to center our meals around more non starchy veggies. I think that our turning point was when we slaughtered our first duck which had been humanly raised by us. Seeing how little meat was on it was eye opening. It made the light bulb click on for us both about how factory farm animals must be feed to be able to produce so much meat. I don’t look for us to go completely vegetarian and definitely not vegan, but cutting down on the meat is reducing our carbon footprint, and making us healthier to boot. This was a great post!

    • Thank you so much for your kind comment. It sounds like you’re definitely on a good path. Everyone’s journey is different, and how they started it too. Yours sounds very eye opening and I can see why that would make you question what you eat, so good for you.
      I’ll be interested to see how you get on so please keep in touch 🙂

  3. I have always believed in ‘moderation in all things’, with plenty of variety. And I’ve never believed in (weight-loss) ‘diets’. I do believe making changes for life can improve health and reduce weight, which has always been an issue for at least somebody in my life (sometimes myself). For about the last decade, I’ve practised portion control (in the kitchen, not at the table), which initially supported weight-loss, and subsequently weight maintenance, without much effort. And without making an ‘issue’ of being ‘different’ from others in the house. (Frankly, I give them the same sized portions as myself, most of the time.)
    That said, I find I simply don’t _want_ meat every day, and with age, I want less of it when I have it. I’ve now added the concept of ‘meat as a condiment’ to my repertoire (something my dietician sister once mentioned). In my opinion, this is a great half-way house in heading towards meat-free.
    So, as I’ve commented elsewhere, I’m still an omnivore, but also a ‘lessivore’. 🙂

    • Thanks for your comment Julia. Moderation is a very good word, in the Western world I think we have forgotten what that means because everything is so cheap and accessible to us (although in the process we’re now eating nasty food). I like your idea about portion control without it effecting the rest of the household. It can be quite a struggle making any changes when others are doing their “own thing”, or aren’t able to support you because they are not able to see wider than the plate given. Habits are a hard nut to crack!
      Lessivore – I love that! 🙂

  4. My parents went through all these sorts of issues back in the Seventies and Eighties so I grew up with it all. Though healthy vs ethical was not yet on the horizon.

    In any case, I think both are possible, perhaps depending on where you live. And both are necessary as well as being part of the same paradigm. By choosing to be healthy you are also choosing de facto to help those around you, if not further afield.

    • Thanks for your comment. Its certainly not questions that can be answered overnight even if I do switch diets, or decide to take a food out/or put it in but it’s certainly interesting to find out. I come from a very meat and two veg culture so learning about anything else is usually quite a revelation!

  5. I have to say I do really enjoy my meat. I don’t think about what I eat that much. The only real thing I concern myself with is my sugar intake. I think the western diet is adjusting. Change is a bit strong I think. I also have to say that the food production companies really need to sort out their recipes because there is just too much rubbish in foods nowadays. And in honesty my diet (aside the various treats I have) is pretty well balanced.

So, what do you think?

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