Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Eating Meat-Free - One Year Later


Today I'm going to talk about my year of not eating meat and also touch on how I got here...

I first gave up eating meat in the fall of 2009.  I had just finished reading The Kind Diet and it hugely inspired me to give it up cold turkey.  That lasted until the spring of 2011.  My husband and I were marathon training and I got sick a month before the marathon.  But really it was just exhaustion that seemed to be plaguing me.  I just felt really off and in all honesty I was worried that it was because I went vegan a year and a half ago.  The one difficulty I had faced when I embraced a vegan diet was the criticism of others.  Not that they were being mean – just that they didn’t understand my decision.  It was really easy for me to read The Kind Diet and find all the reasons for going vegan to be so inspiring.  I wanted to feel that good, I wanted to help the planet, and I loved (still, of course) my dogs and eating meat just didn’t correlate with loving the wonderful furry creature that was part of my family.  So my point is that when I started to feel lethargic and just rundown for more than a month, I got worried.  And my diet was the first thing I looked at.

Vegan Pizzas from my birthday this month

My husband and I were both vegan at that time so together we made the decision in the spring of 2011 to incorporate some meat back into our diet.  I started with once a week because it was really hard for me to go without eating meat for that long and then eat it again.  I remember the first time I ate chicken for the first time since giving it up and it was so strange.  I hadn’t missed it, but I was eating it because I wanted to feel my best.  I know some may criticize me for my decision to eat meat again at this time, but for me, it was something I had to test out to see if it really made a difference.  Maybe I had too many people tell me that I needed to eat meat to be healthy and I hadn’t found this wonderful blogging community yet, so I didn’t have nearly as much knowledge as I do now.

From the spring of 2011 until December 2012, I ate meat.  Not lots – probably chicken once a week and a burger once a month.  Emotionally I didn’t feel right about it, but during that time my husband and I moved twice, started two new jobs, and planned a wedding.  So I guess I can just say that I was very preoccupied with other areas of my life and it wasn’t my focus.  And I was feeling better.  But I do not think it was from eating meat.

MY FAVORITE MEAL - Sesame tofu over rice, greens, and sweet potato

However, by fall of 2012, I was feeling bad.  My sinuses were a mess to the point where I felt loopy and I just felt so tired.  I didn’t have the energy to run and I just didn’t feel like me.  Also, I had been researching Macrobiotics for a while at this point and I jumped right in.  Along with sticking to a Macrobiotic diet, I used my vegan base.  Starting January 1, 2013, I gave up meat (for the second time).  It’s been a year without eating meat now and I haven’t missed it a bit.  This last year has really pushed me away from it and I can’t envision ever eating it again.  It just wouldn’t feel right.  Also, I trained for a marathon spring/summer of 2013 and it was wonderful.  I ran the best 20 miler of my life all on a beautiful meat-free diet.  There’s no saying why I felt so tired that spring of 2011 when I was marathon training.  Maybe my body was just exhausted from training.  I’ll never know.

Eating a meat-free diet is really easy.  I grew up eating meat almost every night of the week as a kid so I know it might sound like a crazy concept to someone you has meat as the basis of each meal.  My husband still eats meat here and there when we go out to a restaurant or if we go to someone’s house and they are serving meat.  But in our house, there is rarely meat because we tend to make meals we can both eat.  We eat a lot of beans, tofu, and whole grains.  The transition can be made and it’s a fantastic one.  Try tacos with textured vegetable protein or just rice and black beans!  Add some daiya, salsa, and guacamole and you’ll never miss the meat in a burrito.  It’s an adjustment, but the benefits for me way outweigh the downsides.  

Good old veggie sub
 I’m proud that 2013 was a meat-free year and I look forward to more amazingly delicious meat-free meals to come!  I felt great in 2013.  I know now that I do not need meat to feel my best.  As always, this is just my opinion and what has worked for me.

Tell me your thoughts!


  1. Have you read "Eating Animals" by Jonathan Safran Foer? If not, it is WONDERFUL.

  2. First off - congrats on your anniversary! Don't let anyone tell you you shouldn't be doing this!

    One thing - the statement "Eating a meat-free diet is really easy. " For you it is easy, and for ME it is easy ... but since a vegan diet depends on beans, nuts and plants ... if you have someone who has a sensitivity to beans, allergies to every nut type out there, and difficulty with tree-based and some other plants ..well, then in order to get a balanced diet it is much more of a challenge. Just a thought! Something I have struggled with in cooking these last couple of years, and am going to write about soon.

  3. Congrats on a meat free year :) I agree that it can be pretty easy to go meat free -- at this point, I don't even see it as food. It's not something I want or crave, it might as well be a chunk of wood or wax to me, ya know?

  4. Congratulations on a your meat free year and thanks for sharing your story! I'm experimenting with eating meat again after a few years vegetarian. While I do feel healthier with some of my food choices, I'm not convinced that adding meat back in has made me a healthier person. I think I'll keep experimenting like you did until I find what works best for me :)

  5. This is great and I'm glad you had a great meat-free year. Here's to many more. Your fave meal looks SO good. I totally need to try me some sesame tofu. I definitely couldn't even imagine eating meat ever again - and I really can say that confidently! Tyler only eats seafood the odd time, but it's usually only when we're down in Florida, so it's fresh, but even then, he wants to cut it out and be solely vegan.

    We eat a lot of tofu, black beans, tempeh, rice, and lentils. I want to expand my horizons and start using more (like mung beans, and such!). I just love that I DON'T feel limited on a vegan diet, even though that is the impression that a lot of people assume (or perhaps are just limiting themselves in their minds). The possibilities (and combos!) are limitless on a vegan diet. In my opinion ;).