From Meatless Mondays to a Meatless Month

Posted by on 12.31.09 | No Comments
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Preface: I just returned from visiting my parents and sister in the land of processed foods. While I was there, surrounded by all food boxed and wrapped in plastic, I read most of a book called The Way We Eat which is about why our food choices matter and the ethics of those choices. The book opened my eyes to so much about the international food industry and the impact it has on the various aspects of life on Planet Earth. It was a fascinating read that seems to have left me with a desire to do more to bring my diet into alignment with love. This post has been a difficult one to write because I want to tell everyone all the things I now get but it comes out political, preachy…and…angry. Perhaps the anger will be the catalyst that gets to me to love?

Late last summer, I came across the idea of “Meatless Mondays”. At the time, it was almost unthinkable to have a “real” dinner that didn’t have meat in it and my partner, Blaine, was absolutely opposed to the idea. I’d have a meatless meal and he’d have my meatless meal with a pork chop. His ardent belief that he needs meat every single night got us debating and the debating got me reading everything I could on the subject so I could crush him. All the reading did, however, was turn my own life upside down by forcing me to question my own beliefs about food (which weren’t so far from Blaine’s). It also dug-up a enormous desire to find out where my food comes from, how it is made and what the hell is in it because most of what I was reading horrified me.

A couple of weeks ago, I decided I’d give up meat for the month of January just to see how I feel without it and to see if that belief about needing animal protein is correct. I had tried vegetarianism years ago and it almost left me hospitalized from malnourishment so I have my doubts about whether or not I can actually survive a month. I also have my doubts about whether I can survive the cravings for a dark-beer and burger after a good cross-country ski.

Here’s the preachy part I warned you about in the preface: I may have my doubts about whether being a vegetarian (verses a conscious omnivore) is healthy for me but there is not a single doubt left in my head as to whether or not it is a much better choice for the animals and for the planet.

For the animals:

Four years ago, I saw a clip on the evening news that I couldn’t watch. It was of a giant diary cow being pushed around by a fork-lift as she struggled to get-up. Turns out, that is nothing on the inhumane treatment scale that food animals are subjected to. It also turns out that meat from those animals and that system is easily contaminated and full of unhealthy antibiotics, hormones and bacteria. If you want to see for yourself YouTube CAFO, rent the fictional movie “Fast Food Nation” or the just-released DVD of the documentary “Food, Inc”.

For the planet:

Get this: on an acre of land planted with food crops, one could grow food to feed ten times the number of people that same acre could feed if it was used for animals; a 1,000 pound steer takes over 800,000 gallons of water to raise and a pound of hamburger uses 84 times the amount of water that a pound of tomatoes uses. In my last post, I wrote about how if all Americans ate three fewer hamburgers a week it would off-set the carbon emissions of all SUVs in the country.

As for me, I have all sorts of weird, chronic “issues” (such as swollen joints in my hands), often could be called anxious and sleep horribly and I want to know how eating meat impacts not only these things but all aspects of my mental, emotional and physical health and there’s only one way to find out: to stop eating it.

Right now, vegetarianism is a novel experiment and I’m my own guinea pig. I’ll keep you posted as the month progresses. Today is Day 2 and so far, so good.

PS: I started my experiment December 28–the day after my father “insisted” I eat filet mignon. He went to Costco and spent over $50 on the filets and then barbecued them to absolute medium-rare perfection. The meal was completed with mashed potatoes I made (from a big bag of potatoes he also purchased at Costco) and a bottle of Bogel Old Vine Zinfindel. For Dad, it was a meal intended to say “thank you for coming home”. I bargained with myself that I would eat it if I made it my farewell to meat for a month meal. That night, both Blaine and I hardly slept. I woke-up at 2:00 AM just sure my greatest fears were coming true. It was horrid. Perhaps it was just coincidence but I have noticed that I sleep better on the nights I drink very little wine and don’t eat meat.

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