To Veg or Not to Veg?

My only attempt at being a vegetarian lasted for 1 week when I was 23. I didn’t cook, I ate peanuts and chips, and it ended abruptly! However, I always thought I could become a vegetarian any time I want, because I am not a big meat-eater. Now I have been put to the test!

Since we started eating “Real Food” at our house almost exclusively starting last September, one of my goals has been to start buying and cooking local, organic and grass-fed meats. It is one of the steps in the Real Food process that I’ve delayed the longest, because there is lots of meat already in the freezer, and the new kinds will be pricey. So far I have bought small amounts of local sausage, pepperoni and lamb, but I haven’t made a big commitment.

Talking about this with Rom, out of the blue he says, “Why don’t we give up meat altogether?” My immediate reaction was quite negative. I consider myself to be very healthy and I don’t think our food choices are too horrible for the planet. So why change?

I had not actively thought about going vegetarian at all. We both like vegetarian meals, but they are just “menu plan options,” not an attempt to save either animals or the Earth.

So I replied, “We eat vegetarian half the time anyway, so why do we need to go that far?”

Rom had been a vegetarian in the past for several years, and had done some actual cooking, but also went through periods of eating spaghetti and beans out of cans. He had more experience than I did, and wanted to try again with our new food knowledge and cooking skills.

We both agreed we would not give up dairy products or eggs, so wouldn’t become vegans. There was no interest expressed in going gluten-free or primal. I suggested we keep eating poultry and fish, and just give up red meat, but Rom would like to go further.

I am still not sure.

The positives are:

  • Good for planet
  • Good for animals
  • Good for health
  • Probably reduced grocery bills
  • Not having to handle and cook meat any more

The negatives are:

  • Fewer menu options
  • Giving up food I like (chicken stir fry, split pea soup with ham, spaghetti and meat balls)
  • Harder to get variety of concentrated proteins from vegetarian sources (nuts, beans, dairy and soy seem limiting, especially if you don’t want the flavoured/texturized/packaged products)
  • Harder to deal with holiday meals and to share meals with extended family, especially at their homes

Really, the positives seem like abstract “should-dos” while the negatives seem more emotional.

Here is what we agreed so far. We do monthly meal plans, so starting on April 1, our first goal will be to use up and not replace all the meat in the freezer. Luckily we don’t have a side of beef  🙂 My quick inventory shows we have 11 meals’ worth of sausages, 1 meal of hot dogs, 1 serving of pepperoni for pizza, 2 hamburgers, 1 package ground beef for chili, about a pound of ham, 4 pork chops, 3 servings of bacon, a pound of sole, 3 servings of salmon, 3 meat balls, and 5 small individual packages of roast beef and pork cut up for sandwiches. For the two of us, I am estimating all of this meat will last for 25 main meals, not including the sandwich meat which will be used for lunches.

We cook dinner 6 nights a week, so this would last 4 weeks if we ate meat every day, but we don’t. I checked back on our meal plans for the past 2-3 months, and we have red meat, chicken or fish 80% of the time, and vegetarian meals the rest. I had guessed we had veg meals more like 1/3 to 1/2 of the time, but I over-estimated! Truth is, I have vegetarian meals for lunch more than half of the time, but not for evening meals.

If we used up the meat 4 nights a week, it would last for 6 weeks, which is more realistic. Our switch-over would occur around May 14.

After that we will eat all vegetarian at home for a full month. We will continue to have meat at family meals (at their homes, if offered) but will not bring any into the house. At the one-month mark, around June 15, we’ll decide what to do next. I’m dying to know which of us will miss eating meat more! And I genuinely don’t know what we’ll decide at that point.

On one hand, there are so many fresh foods available in the summer, we may not care. On the other hand…it will be barbecue season.

Stay tuned!

3 comments

  1. I’m attempting my month in May – I stuck to a pescatarian diet for about 9 months but my iron levels dropped far too much and the doctor recommended that I add a little red meat back into my diet – I also go fed up with salmon!
    Giving up meat is easy for me as I don’t like it too much, but I really need to improve my cooking skills to prevent getting bored.

    • I can cook lots of veg and grain meals, but my problem is that I’m not really dissatisfied with how I eat now, so my motivation isn’t great. I’m interested to find out, if I give up meat for a month, will I miss it or want it back?

  2. Pingback: Sausage Fatigue? « An Exacting Life

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