Heading Towards a Meat Free Life

Interestingly this post has been sat in my drafts for the past five months!  I wrote it before I did Veganuary then when I came off that I went back to Paleo but now I’m heading back to a plant based diet which means I hardly eat any meat now (nor eggs, nor dairy).  So I thought you’d like to read it to see where I’m at.

Also interesting – when I did Veganuary I didn’t put any weight on –  but because I felt I’d eaten too much rubbish over the course of four weeks I headed straight back onto Paleo (safety blanket) where I discovered I was putting on pounds every single week.  After six weeks and no let up on the weight increase,  I started to really panic.  What the hell was going on?

In the end I thought this is ridiculous.  I’m still eating too much meat, I’m putting on weight, and after being a vegan for a month walking down the meat aisle in a supermarket was making me feel nauseous.

I don’t particularly like the term vegan because it’s more of a lifestyle choice than a diet.  I found myself during Veganuary doubting everything about my life, what I did, bought and used in such a way it was rather a negative approach that left me deflated after four weeks of the challenge.

So, I’m ditching trying to be 100% vegan and instead aiming for a plant-based diet, which means I’m concentrating only on what I eat.

One thing is for sure: Veganuary changed the way I think about food.  This is an ongoing development for me that is constantly evolving and changing both in mindset and theory.  Food and what we eat isn’t quite as simple as I first thought!

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Picture this – there I am sat at a table tucking into ribs, or devouring half a chicken, or a blue steak.  My meat feasts used to be the fascination of my partner who used to look at me gone out because I could eat so much meat.

Not only that I could eat every type of meat, every part of an animal (apart from the brain), and in all sorts of different cooked states.  It wouldn’t be unusual for friends to look in awe at me during an outing to a steak house where I’d happily knock back a 10-oz  rib eye and not leave anything but a very dry bone on my plate.  As for BBQ’s it was like a scene from the Serengeti when I’d finished eating.

If it sounds amusing I am only pleased I saw the light of day, which of course, I’d known all my life but just chose to ignore.  Not now though:

I’m officially on my way to a meat-free life.

Now I’m eating less than 50% meat (and fish) per week which is what I set out on my Life Ticket to achieve.

I’d been subconsciously moving away from meat for quite a while, but until I monitored my meals for the previous couple of weeks I wasn’t totally sure I’d reached it.  In fact it turns out I’m more like 75% meat free.

So good news for me because now not only have I saved a few animals, saved some serious money and added a few more benefits to my ever increasing health, I’m also discovering new foods, new recipes, and I even shop differently.

But is that enough?

One thing I was concerned with when I started moving away from my meat intensive diet was whether I’d put weight on.  Weight I’d carefully managed to get rid of last yr through eating an exclusive paleo diet.  Yes, it would have been terribly easy to put weight on through eating bread, crisps and cheese but I’ve pretty much been able to avoid all three (mostly, though I’m no where near perfect on achieving that 100%!). **Apart from January**

**Main meals have and continue to be the hardest area to go plant based**  

The question I sometimes get asked is:- Why don’t I just stop eating meat?  Well because I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy meat.

I believe if you’re going to eat meat (as I still do), that buying meat which has come from animals in free range or organic circumstances, on small scale farms, or indeed if it’s been shot in season (I’m talking about grouse and other field birds) then it’s better to eat meat from these sources than mass scaled factory animals.  I don’t wish nor need to support that kind of “farming”.  It’s a health choice (to some extent) and a ethical choice (for you, not the animal because it’s still being killed).

Remember when it comes to weight loss – whole foods, including meat are are still better for you than processed crap.  Truth.  But that whole plant based foods are even better than meat long terms. Better truth.

The real matter is whether as a consumer I understand what I’m eating and that I never, ever disassociate the meat from the animal as is all too easy to do when it’s packaged up on a brightly lit shop shelf. **Since Veganuary it doesn’t even have to be packaged up**

Western culture has come to heavily rely on meat as our main source of food on every plate and this should not be the case.  The less humane standards adhered to for the animal and the more expensive meat gets then we have to recognise that it’s just not fair continuing to consume food in that way.  Just another reason for me to move away from meat.

Well that and also the abundance of studies and papers which aim to show that the more veggies you eat the less likely you are to get sick.  In some cases illnesses have been turned around by adopting a veggie/vegan diet.  Sure I don’t know the people behind the studies, nor can I prove they work but I believe in what I’m being told and shown.

Inside my own conscious is telling me this feels right and that is good enough for me.

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I’ve been doing some heavy research just lately around nutrition and there seems to be two main diets in the world which come with their own distinct processes, theories and evidence.

  • High fat, low carb (Paleo)
  • High carb, low fat (plant based)

Plus another which isn’t a diet per se but more analytically based findings of diets around the world where people have and continue to live longest  – the Blue Zones

When I’ve finished my investigations and reading’s I’ll put up another blog post about my thoughts because it’s all rather fascinating.

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Where do you stand on food?  

Is a little of what you like better than worrying about what you eat?  Do you think the Western diet is slowly changing due to the fact we don’t have the resources available for such meat intense diets?  Or do you think we just need to change our farming methods?
Is being healthy more important than being ethical?