Last year I lived without red meat for 6 months. The first week was hard as I resisted hamburgers, bacon and spaghetti. But eventually I adjusted and substituted this for that.
Turkey substitutes are hit and miss. For instance, Freddie’s turkey burger was the worst I’d ever had, but at restaurants where they cook your food to order, you have a better shot. Turkey bacon isn’t that great, so I gave it up all together. But ground turkey at home for burgers, spaghetti and chili taste amazing. At the risk of sounding partial, most of my turkey creations are way better than what I’ve tried in public.
If I can’t find what I need in turkey form, I’ll settle for chicken. I love eating wings and was relieved to not cut these out. Also, I love all sorts of fish. Sometimes I crave a solid tuna melt or if I’m opting for healthier options, tuna salad with greek yogurt.
Refraining from red meat became easy. But when I returned to red meat last summer, the salt lured me in. I devoured a pound of bacon in a week and ate three beef burgers in two days. I didn’t ease back into red meat; I dove in without any regard for the 6 months of progress I’d made.
For the last year or so, I’ve thought about giving it back up again. I’ve received criticism from a few people for caring too much and have been encouraged to “not over think it”, but as an intuitive eater, this is the right decision for me for a few reasons.
For one, I never feel better when I eat red meat. I feel sluggish, lethargic and bloated. As much as I absolutely love barbecue, it adds on all these other layers of shit I shouldn’t be eating. I love my pulled pork in a loaded baked potato with butter, cheese, extra sour cream and bacon bits. No greens, just meat and cheese.
The environmental impact of eating (red) meat causes me concern, as well. Someone told me last year that up to 30% of the produce grown in our country feeds the meat we eat. Upon further research, I realized our planet is in dire need of a fundamental shift in our eating habits.
Giving up red meat is more so for the environment than it is myself. I vowed to reduce my food waste earlier this year and to ultimately reduce my carbon footprint. My friend gave me a book explaining how to do so; it’s just a matter of reading through everything.
So that’s pretty much it! I’m giving up red meat indefinitely.
Now, when it comes to seeing my parents and the in-laws, I’ll make an exception to spare feelings. So maybe one or twice a year I’ll have red meat with them. But as soon as I’m done with the spicy pork spaghetti in the fridge, that’s it for a while. I would say, “Wish me luck!”, but that’s not needed, because I know how easy this will be. Last year’s 6 month experiment has led me to believe in the resiliency of my willpower. Once I cut something out, that’s it.
Shaming people into making better decisions rarely promotes engagement, and it’s not my place to advise anyone what’s best for them. I just know for me, this is the right thing to do.
For one, I watched Okja, and it was heart breaking. Also, my coworker brought a pig to the office that same week, and his facial expressions mirrored my dog. I’ve read about pigs allegedly being as smart as three-year olds, and this pig’s intricate facial expressions led me to google their cognitive capabilities.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating for pet pigs or suggesting we domesticate pigs. They don’t belong indoors. But once I realized how eerily similar this pig behaved like my Beagle, I knew my pork consumption could no longer continue. Culturally, Americans think it’s crazy when people in other parts of the world eat dogs. I’m beginning to understand why folks in the Middle East refrain from pork, although their reasons remain very different from my own.
For more information on the environmental impact of meat consumption, click on the following links. Apparently some expects consider certain cuts of pig to be white meat, such as pork tenderloin and pork chops (the center loin), but for me it’s all or nothing. I refuse to differentiate at the store which parts are good and which aren’t, so besides the very rare exceptions throughout the year, I plan to eliminate my pork and beef consumption all together.
In the future I’ll research exactly which veggies, fruits and meats have the least impact on the environment. I tried to google this last Thursday with minimal luck. Nonetheless, I’m excited to return to no red meat. I promise to never post graphic pics or videos of animals being slaughtered, but here’s a few videos of some cute piggies enjoying themselves.