You know how sometimes you get an idea, and you just can’t shake it. No matter how silly it seems to you, even if you’ve seen others try and fail, even if you know the facts. It just keeps nagging at you.
Yeah, that’s what meat was doing to me.
If I’m being honest with myself there were probably a lot of other influences, like the Vegan Festival I went too (oops) and all the health blogs/podcast that I frequent. But the more information I heard, the harder it was for me to ignore this thought. I wanted to see what Vegetarianism was really all about.
Disclaimer; I already don’t eat a TON of meat. I have it maybe twice a week. But my downfall is burgers, sausage and bacon. You know all that “not healthy” red meat. Sure I buy “organic”, but organic is just a poorly standardized label and there’s more to it than meets the eye.
MY REASON: If you are wondering why I would put myself through this when I love meat so much, here are some things to think about- Vegetarianism will truly shrink your carbon footprint, because of how unsustainable the meat industry can be for our planet. It will also remove your contribution to some of the worst animal cruelty on earth.
If you still don’t understand what I am talking about here are a few documentaries to watch if you want more info (P.S., take all information in documentaries with a grain of salt. No documentary is 100% correct without inaccuracies. Do your own research):
- Cowspiracy: about sustainability and the impact of the meat industry.
- Produced by Keegan Kuhn and Kip Andersen
- Funded by Indiegogo 1500 backers who helped raise $117,000, as well as funding from Leonardo DiCaprio
- Vegucated: The ultimate Vegan Propaganda, as you follow 3 volunteers through the vegan journey. It is not a research backed documentary, more of a heart felt one. Gets you thinking about where your meat is coming from.
- Produced by Marisa Miller Wolfson
- Funded by kickstarter backers
- Forks Over Knives: Link between food and chronic health issues/diseases
- Produced/Directed by Lee Fulkerson, John Corry, Brian Wendel
- Couldn’t find who funded it. Hmm.
So now that that is out of the way, how did this go for me?
THE BEGINNING: CRAVINGS! Every time I smelt meat my mouth would start watering and my mind would start picturing images of juicy burgers. Maybe it was just me but it seemed like my fiancé was finding the most mouthwatering burgers everywhere we went!
(seriously, it was never ending)
NEGATIVE EFFECTS: I felt more tired than usual. I can’t be 100% sure it was a meat-free diet since I didn’t run any test before hand to check my iron, iodine, B12 levels or anything else (Oh how I would love to have free access to blood sampling and genetic testing). There are many reasons why I could have been more fatigued. But it did occur.
POSITIVE EFFECTS: I survived, I reduced my carbon footprint and I learned a lot! The cravings went away after about week 3. I feel like I had less acne but I could be making that up. Truly, I don’t think there is much of a difference I would have seen in 1 month. I have been eating meat for 25 years and our bodies take a while to really adapt and change. MY body didn’t have much to change considering I already ate a balanced healthy diet full of vegetables, fruits, minimal grains, legumes, nuts/seeds already.. Cutting out meat for me was not going to give me crazy health benefits.
Sorry if you were hoping for more. Some crazy results that I gained or that I just couldn’t handle the cravings and started ravaging all the meat I saw. Truth is, life went as it normally did, only that I had to get more creative in the grocery store and kitchen!
MEAL PLANNING AND PREP: So, how did I survive being meatless? By adding in many different meat alternatives and protein from other sources!!
Meat isn’t just a great protein source it also gives you many other vitamins and minerals. That is why it is absolutely necessary to supplement with other food sources OR vitamins. I chose other food sources, such as legumes, eggs (local eggs my friends, local eggs), and certain vegetables because it’s cheaper than vitamins and protein powders.
Recommendations I would make:
- TEMPT: A hemp tofu. Mine was a mock chorizo which tasted delicious. Some people may not digest soy as easily which makes this a great alternative.
- TEMPEH: I tried this for the first few days but quickly realize it does not sit well with me. It is a fermented soy. Typically my body loves fermented foods but not tempeh. Nope. My stomach bloats and gets super uncomfortable.
- TOFU: Easiest to find in any grocery store. As far as soy products go, I chose to eat only raw soy, which is what tofu falls under. I haven’t done enough of my own research yet so I just try to stay away from processed soy.
- NATTO: Fermented soy beans. Strange that this didn’t upset my stomach but tempeh did. Might be the difference in how they are prepared? This is super cheap and easy to find in grocery stores in Hawaii.
Recipes I found:
CABBAGE: I realized I love cabbage. If I take anything away from my vegetarian endeavor, it will be cabbage!
- Pinterest led me here (obviously I substituted the kielbasa):
- Also, this one which was so simple and quick! I added beans for some protein:
VEGAN COOKIES: I know, cookies are already vegetarian and why am I talking about Vegan now (which is a whole other ball park). Well because I was on such a roll that I decided to make something vegan, and they turned out so delicious that I had coworkers comment on how they liked them more than the store bought ones right next to mine. Not to mention this made me fall in LOVE with alt. eggs AKA FLAX EGGS!!!
- I used baking powder instead of soda – the conversion was 1 teaspoon of baking powder per 1 cup of flour and I added chia seeds. Recipe was found here
SEASONING: Seasoning your vegetables even with just pepper makes a difference. It can help you cut back on salad dressings if your veggies already taste good.
THE END. I quite enjoyed the experience. It led me to get more creative in the kitchen, do more research and gain more knowledge and understating, and I felt GREAT knowing that I wasn’t contributing as much to the destruction of our world. If you want a crazy challenge to spice life up a bit, I would highly suggest it. But remember DO YOUR RESEARCH FIRST! There are so many pro’s and con’s to meatless and meat eaters. I shared some of the research and understanding that I have on the topic in my blog post (TO MEAT OR NOT TO MEAT – to come)