Eighty days ago today I made a big change in my life. I joined a group of more than seven million Americans and billions around the world. I became a vegetarian. To quote John Green in The Fault in Our Stars, “it happened slowly and then all at once.”
Let me be clear: I LOVE MEAT. I’ve been known to say things like:
“I’m a carnivore.”
“I’m a meat and potatoes, girl.”
“If God didn’t want humans eating animals, they wouldn’t be so tasty.”
So, if you click away from this article and remember anything, it should be this: I LOVE MEAT.
Okay, now that we’ve covered that, why in Sam Hill did I stop eating it?
I think like a lot of things in life, eating can become automatic and even mindless. We reach for the things that are familiar and closest to us. We take comfort in the familiarity of food. While so many things in life are unpredictable and out of our control, food is a constant and we can typically control what we consume.
Well, eighty days ago I made a simple, but important decision. I decided to think about my food before I ate it.
I’ve always been slightly uncomfortable with the fact that I ate animals, but I tried not to think about it. After all, as we’ve established already, I LOVE MEAT.
However, during the last year, that whisper of discontent within in me grew louder.
Ironically, I think the tipping point for me was last November when I ate the best steak I’ve ever had in my life. I was at an expensive restaurant in Chicago and, let me tell you, that steak was worth every penny. But, every time I ate meat after that it just couldn’t compare and I started to lose my appetite for cheap meat. And since I’m not uber rich, cheap meat is usually what I have available to me.
So, one day while browsing the cafeteria at work, I decided to forego meat for just one meal. I survived, so I tried it again. Then, again. After a week I was still going strong. I noticed I had a lot more energy and to my surprise, I wasn’t missing meat at all. I felt great.
Before each meal, I trained myself to think about my food before I decided what to eat. And each time, I didn’t have an appetite for meat after I really thought about. (I think many people wouldn’t eat processed meats if they knew everything that went into the process. I’ll leave it at that. You have Google if you want to know more.)
It was strange at first training my mind to look for other options to eat. I’ve tried a lot of new foods in the last eighty days. Some are now favorites (Thomas brand Double Protein Oatmeal English Muffins, Jasmine rice, edamame a.k.a. soy beans, kale, hoisin sauce); some not so much (soy milk, tofu, almond milk.)
Regardless of your tastes and preferences, everyone should be thoughtful about what they put in their body. If you know there are things you should reduce or cut out of your diet, try doing it for just one meal or one day a week #MeatlessMonday. You might be surprised how much you don’t miss some of the foods you once liked best.
***If you want to learn more about healthy eating, I recommend you visit www.eatright.org from The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. It is the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. You actually have to have real training and legitimate credentials to be a member unlike a lot of hacks/pseudo-nutritionists out there. Just sayin’.
***This article answers some questions about a vegetarian diet, including the health benefits, if you are curious.
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