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.
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?