My husband and I have read A LOT on various diets and nutritional plans.
We’ve also seen A TON of food documentaries, often with conflicting information and advice. In general, though, too many animal proteins probably increase your risk of developing cancer, and too many refined carbohydrates are likely to increase your risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
We typically aim to eat food with recognizable ingredients and minimal processing, but our endeavors achieve varying levels of success depending on their proximity to vacations and holidays.
Until now, however, we’ve never tried a diet without meat. I’ve always been interested in vegetarianism for health benefits as well as environmental and animal cruelty concerns, yet I knew that without my husband on board I wouldn’t last very long.
This year, when my carnivore husband told me that he wanted to try a meatless month, I was floored and delighted. I honestly only expected us to last a week and we made it the entire month! Even when he made beef chili for guests (I made vegetarian), he held firm and sent his leftovers home with friends so we wouldn’t be tempted and they wouldn’t go to waste.
We learned a lot in our month without meat, so in no particular order, I hope you enjoy our random musings.
Our Month Without Meat
1. Vegetarian does not necessarily equal healthy. Heck, Oreos and some Taco Bell Fresco-Style Burritos are even vegan!
2. A month without meat was easier than we thought. As long as we had lots of fun, vegetarian options in the fridge and plenty of snacks–like dehydrated fruit and nuts–on hand, it didn’t even feel like we were on a special plan. We just ate, you know, food.
3. A month without meat was also harder than I thought. While stressed out and running in circles at work, saying no to chicken strips or burritos in favor of a wilted cafeteria salad bar with mostly canned veggies was tough.
4. Many prepackaged foods have gratuitous meat. One of my cafeterias offers gorgeous salads that would be perfectly lovely vegetarian meals except for the totally unnecessary bacon bits. Why? (I admit, though, that every month before this I would have argued, “Why not?”)
5. It helps to be flexible. Some of my vegetarian friends are so anti-meat that they use a separate set of dishes, silverware, and cookware, and I get it. However, as we’re starting with baby steps here, I shared a chicken fajita lunch platter at our favorite Mexican place. A family member ate the chicken, and I ate the veggies.
6. Being vegan would be really, really difficult. It’s hard enough to find good vegetarian options when eating out, but at least meat is fairly easy to recognize and avoid. Butter, milk, eggs, and gelatin, conversely, can hide anywhere without warning.
7. Food tastes infinitely better when it’s not trying to masquerade as something else. I’ll take Thanksgiving Mac & Cheese over Tofurkey any day.
8. There’s no shame in riding the coattails of others. I’m not the first one in my family to practice vegetarianism, and though my husband and I are currently the only ones, we benefit immensely from the efforts of others who suffered the weird looks and grumblings at family gatherings in years gone by. Now it’s old news and people mostly leave us in peace.
9. The only vitamin supplement we need is B12, and even that wouldn’t be necessary if I ate more eggs and dairy. I chose this over a multi-vitamin because more and more research reveals that most supplements are unnecessary and can even be harmful unless you have an incredibly restricted diet.
10. I feel great. I was expecting to feel a bit tired and sluggish, but instead I feel better than before and plan to continue for many months without meat, at least when we eat at home. We travel frequently and want to experience everything we can about the places we visit, which might include meat-containing foods, although now we won’t specifically seek them out.
Are you vegan or vegetarian? Have you tried it or always wanted to? Tell me how it’s going or what holds you back in the comments below.
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