Nothing beats the taste of a well-cooked steak.
The grill marks, the dripping juices, and the scent of seared beef are enough to drive any carnivore insane. Add a fresh tossed salad, a side of grilled veggies, baked potato, and a glass of a full-bodied cabernet sauvignon and you have the components of a perfect meal. That’s what I thought until eight years ago when I first eliminated meat from my diet. Over this time I slowly but steadily dropped beef, pork, lamb, and then poultry from my menu. Although I’ve gone strictly vegetarian for a few months here and there, I still eat fish. I know that habit will become permanent, but I’ll only go there when it feels right.
I’m not suggesting that eliminating meat from your diet is right for everyone, but I’ll tell you this. I have never looked back and have never felt better nor had more energy any time in my adult life.
So what happened? Eight years ago I met the woman who would become my wife on a first date. We’d met online and in person at the little restaurant at the 79th Street Boat Basin. She told me she was a vegetarian, so when it came time she ordered a salad, a grilled Portobello mushroom, and a glass of white wine. I was hankering for a juicy cheeseburger and fries, but before ordering something came over me. It was an actual sensitive thought! I considered what blood dripping down the side of my burger and across my mouth might look to her. It could make her uncomfortable and might be a major turn off. So I ordered something else. After dinner we took a walk on the path along Riverside Park. The rest is history.
During our next few dates I inquired about her choice to become a vegetarian—why she chose it, what she ate, how long she had been a vegetarian, and if it made her feel any different. She told me that she been a vegetarian on and off for years after being a meat-eater for most of her life. She casually filled in the other blanks, but did not tout or try selling me on the virtues of going meat-free. I liked that. I also decided to give it a try. After a few rough days, it was relatively easy switching from beef burgers to turkey or tuna burgers. But, I still missed my steak. After a few weeks, I mostly forgot about meat and became more comfortable with the many alternatives.
Then I got sick. I developed a weird bronchial condition that sapped me of my energy at about 5pm every day. I would leave work soon after, usually drenched in a heavy sweat. I’d go home and lay on my bed still sweating, but with chills. I’d wrap myself in a blanket and cough a lot. It wasn’t fun and I wondered if this had anything to do with my diet. Thankfully my future wife visited and comforted me. She said my body was “detoxing” and the toxins from the stored meat molecules in my system were releasing into my system and challenging my immune system. At least I knew the cause. Finally, I took a powerful antibiotic and was soon back to normal. That short bout of what I can only refer to as “detoxing”(for lack of a better term) subconsciously convinced me to never eat meat again. A few months later I eliminated poultry and that was it.
Over time, my weight fluctuated due to my replacement of carbs for meat, but eventually I got a handle on how my system was reacting and handling the change from carnivore to “pescatarian”. I eat wild-caught fish whenever possible to avoid the toxins in farmed fish.
How do I feel? My energy feels light; I am more active, and clocking better times in my runs than twenty years ago. My strength level is steady, with no loss even with the added eight years. Additionally, my digestive system feels less taxed after a meal than when I was eating meat. I really can’t think of a down side to the change.
Initially I did not stop eating meat because of the stress on the environment or the cruelty of factory farming. But, it’s true. Farming animals is inhumane, unhealthy, a cause of pollution, and unnecessary. There are lots of tasty alternatives to meat and no reason to kill animals for food unless you live in a remote part of the world where wild animals are your only choice for sustenance. Additionally, farmed animals are fed poorly. Cows are meant to eat grass, but are usually fed cheap GMO, grains sprayed with pesticides. Steroids and sedatives like Prozac are given to the animals to help eliminate stress. These poor creatures have good reason for their stress. And, we consume all of the crap the animals eat along with the toxicity from their stress hormones. If that’s not enough, the beef you buy in the supermarket is often injected with chemicals that change the color of the meat from brown to red. But, don’t let me sell you. Your Guy’s Guy is simply sharing his experience in eliminating meat from his diet.
And guess what? My wife now eats fish so we share a happy little household. There is no meat either cooked or stored in our home and it really makes the energy more peaceful. What about our three-year old? We’ve decided to feed him healthy organic foods whenever possible and no meat when he’s with us. We allow him to have poultry at day care, but no beef, pork or lamb. When he gets older, he can make his own choices. That said, he’s a healthy, happy kid so we must be ding something right.
I hope this sheds some light on the virtues of eliminating meat from your diet. It’s not necessarily for everyone, but it worked for me. Whatever you decide to do, eat healthy, amigos. And, there is nothing as tasty as a well-cooked steak.
This week’s GUY’S GUY of the WEEK are Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs, Leonardo da Vinci, Prince, Rosa Parks, Gandhi, Cesar Chavez, and all the other people who helped change the world without eating meat.