I can’t believe I’m actually considering vegetarianism

photo: theafronews.com
photo: theafronews.com

I, a self-professed lover of meat, have never before been this close to becoming a vegetarian. What has happened, you might be wondering? I watched “Forks Over Knives.” It’s a fascinating documentary that sets out to prove how eating a plant-based diet, free from all animal products, is the healthiest diet for humans. What is essentially a vegan diet – no meat, no dairy – has been proven over decades of study to not only stop the spread of cardiovascular diseases and Type 2 diabetes, but actually reverse it. Even cancer patients and professional MMA fighters swear by the plant-based diet as being key to their recovery and performance. The documentary was so convincing that my husband, who eats very large and regular quantities of meat to fuel his intense workout regime, has actually agreed to try a temporary vegetarian experiment. I’m still reeling in shock, this coming from the guy who doesn’t like a single vegetarian meal during the week.

Diet has been a slight point of contention in our relationship. My philosophy is “everything in moderation” while prioritizing local and seasonal food choices. We eat a lot of vegetables, whole grains, fruit, and minimal dairy. My husband would agree with everything I just said, except that he wants to eat meat every day, which is not “moderation,” in my opinion. Over the past several years, he’s agreed to one or two vegetarian nights a week, as long as there’s sufficient canned tuna in the pantry for him to take for lunch the next day to get that important protein.

As much as I love meat, I’ve always felt it’s excessive to eat on a daily basis for a number of reasons. First, it’s bad for the environment. The livestock industry contributes more greenhouse gases to the world on a daily basis than the entire transportation industry. Second, it’s hard to get meat that’s been raised in an ethical setting and, since finding it, we pay a fortune for it. (Watch the “Food, Inc.” documentary if you’re interested in learning more about meat production.) Third, my gut feeling that it’s just not healthy to eat that much meat was supported entirely by “Forks over Knives.” Research has shown that countries high in meat consumption have correspondingly high levels of cardiovascular disease. By contrast, the overall healthiest countries eat rice, whole grains, and a ton of vegetables. When Jason heard that, he commented that the excessive amounts of protein must be why so many of the old body builders he once followed are now dying of heart disease.

photo: blogs.the-american-interest.com
photo: blogs.the-american-interest.com

I don’t want to become a vegetarian because I do enjoy meat and it’s important to me to be able to eat what I’m served. I love to travel and meat features prominently in the special foods of many cultures – but never so much as in North America, where it’s practically worshiped! The experiment Jason has agreed to is to eat completely vegetarian during the week, with meat on weekends, just to see how we feel. Ideally, we’ll drastically cut back our meat consumption to two or three times a week while exploring more vegetarian options. I’m very curious to see how this goes.

If you haven’t watched “Forks Over Knives” yet, I highly urge you to go out and rent it immediately. Let me know what you think. Would you ever be able to give up meat?


22 thoughts on “I can’t believe I’m actually considering vegetarianism

  1. I’m so pro-weekday vegetarianism! By not eating meat 5/7 days each week we could afford to eat much higher quality (ie tastier) meats on the weekends. (I might be more easily convinced than most because I’m not a big meat fan to begin with and I think the stuff at the grocery store tastes like cardboard.) I was doing this before I got pregnant, but Erik was reluctant to cooperate and it just got to be way too much work to keep up with cooking two sets of meals. The deal now is that we can eat as many vegetarian meals each week as we can think up, so long as each man-sized portion has 20g of protein in it. Please, please, please post any tasty new recipies you find!

    1. For recipes, I recommend you check out Treehugger’s Weekday Vegetarian series of recipes: http://www.treehugger.com/tag/weekday-vegetarian/. My friend Kelly Rossiter is an awesome cook and published hundreds of vegetarian/vegan recipes online. That’s where I’m going to start my weekday menu planning from now on!
      And funny you should mention cardboard-tasting grocery store meat, because last night we had some flank steak that I picked up at the supermarket because I was in too much of a hurry to go to the butcher shop. The aftertaste totally grossed me out and I ate hardly any. I hadn’t realized how used to hormone-free, mostly-grass-fed beef I am until I could compare flavours.

  2. Giving up meat scares me, it’s like taking off a security blanket I’ve been wearing for 26 years! However, after watching this documentary among others I’ve definitely rethought what KIND of meat I eat – where it came from, how it was raised, how it was processed, etc. And in doing so I’ve cut back on my meat consumption considerably. Amazing the power of a well researched documentary!

    One week without would be do-able, but to give it up, never again having a juicy hot off the grill burger….I couldn’t do it completely to be honest! As for dairy, that I can do without easily! It’s required for babies in my books and beyond that just makes a nice occasional treat!

    1. I agree, and that’s why I also couldn’t give it up entirely. But the problem is that the more I learn about the meat industry, the more turned off I get from meat. So really, I only enjoy a juicy burger if I know the meat isn’t potentially contaminated with E-coli! But yes, I totally hear what you’re saying.

  3. Try vegweb.com for some starter recipes it is a great place for everything vegetarian or vegan from mac & cheese to home made shampoo!

  4. I think the idea of weekday vegetarianism is quite workable, and I have hundreds of recipe posts on TreeHugger to prove it! Another way of thinking of it is Mark Bittman’s approach. He is vegan until 6:00 pm daily, and then he eats what he likes in the evening. Chances are you would consume less meat even in the evening. Learning to love legumes helps in the protein department.

    1. I thought of you and your many vegetarian posts while talking about this with J. last night! I’ll definitely be looking them up for menu planning ideas this evening.

  5. this is a good idea. i think ray and i will be having a conversation about this. hopefully he doesn’t roll his eyes at me.

  6. I love the idea of vegetarian weekdays. We eat meat every day, and pretty much every meal. I’ve been trying to change that for years, but since Catherine is such a difficult eater, she vetoes my efforts. Once I’m done all the work in the house, I plan on becoming the primary cook, then she won’t have a choice. 😛 I’m not convinced that a well balanced vegetarian diet is any healthier than a well balanced omnivorous diet, but the North American treatment of meat is definitely unhealthy and unsustainable. I would love to see some of your vegetarian recipes since I think having good recipes and figuring out what to make for supper every day is the biggest obstacle.

    1. You should really watch this doc. They talk about how addictive processed food is, and how it’s totally possible to wean oneself off the tasty sodium and fat and start enjoying the real taste of food. So maybe Catherine would start to love veggies once she adapts after a few weeks!
      I agree with you that a well balance omnivorous diet is probably fine, too, and that’s likely what we’ll end up doing on weekends.
      I’m going to do some vegetarian menu planning for this week and will post my ideas here! I’m actually really excited for the challenge.

  7. Good idea! We have gone to a more veggie diet over the years and like it quite a lot. I think the key to changing your diet is to do it gradually. I used to be hooked on sweets, but gradually replaced them with fruits, and now, I’m hooked on fruit! Much healthier, and every bit as satisfying.
    There is no doubt we’ll have to stop eating meat the way we do – it simply is not sustainable for the planet. It’s just a matter of awareness, and most of all, habit. Luckily, habits can be changed.

  8. Katherine, you should check out a cookbook entitled The Meat Lover’s Meatless Cookbook by Kim O’Donnel which is full of hearty protein filled recipes for people like Jason who don’t really want to give up meat. They are really flavourful recipes designed specifically to make carnivores happy to eat vegetarian meals.

  9. I was brought up as a vegetarian and have never eaten meat, apart from the one occasion where I accidentally bit into a slice of pizza that had ham as a topping. And I hated the taste of it!
    I started eating fish a couple of years ago but I never plan on eating meat. I definitely think that eating less meat and more fresh veggies, fruit and grains is a healthy choice. Have fun with your menu planning! Let me know if you would like any recipe ideas. 🙂

  10. We have been Weekday Vegetarians for over a year now. With small children, the transition was at times difficult, but ultimately very rewarding and continues to assure us that we have made the right decision. When we do eat meat now, we buy the good stuff and it smells different, it tastes different, it even feels different in our systems and we enjoy it when we get it and don’t complain when we don’t.

    I think you’ll start with a week, but will continue as you start to see the benefits!

    All the best in your endeavour. Love your blog!

  11. I would love to hear how your experiment goes. I try to buy only local grass-fed beef from the farmer’s market and will start growing vegetables and herbs in my first community garden this summer. However, I don’t think I could give up meat entirely. Weekday vegetarianism may be the way to go!

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