Why I decided to stop eating meat

Why I decided to stop eating meat

This month I challenged myself to go vegetarian.

Truth is, I’ve always been curious about going vego and over the past few years I’ve been less and less likely to eat a lot of meat. But convenience and compromise got the better of me and I really, really didn’t want to be cooking two meals per night to accomodate for myself and Sparky and the kids. So I went along eating meat and cooking 2-3 meat-free meals a week simply because I enjoyed them more and it boosted the amount of vegetables we were all eating.

But I came to the realisation that it wouldn’t be too much of a change for me to shift to a vegetarian diet, so come the beginning of October I thought I’d give it a shot: 31 days of meat-free eating.

In the interests of complete transparency, there has been one bacon-related misstep. But aside from that (which I was surprised to discover wasn’t all that enjoyable anyway) it has been a simple and easy transition for me and I’ve decided to keep going with it beyond the end of October.

There are a few reasons why it’s been such a simple switch for me, and I want to be clear about them because they’ve definitely made life easier as I’ve made the change.

  • The kids are a little older now and I can find an extra 15 or 20 minutes to prep my meals every few days.
  • I’ve always enjoyed vegetarian food and was never a huge meat-lover anyway. If given the chance to cook what I wanted, it was almost always vegetarian or meat-lite. When we go out to eat, I always opt for the vegetarian dishes. So I was primed for the change anyway.
  • I’m more than happy to eat repeat meals and leftovers.

Moreover, I realised I wasn’t enjoying the meat I was eating. I have no real problem with the idea of eating meat but I recognised that resources were going in to producing this meat that I wasn’t even enjoying. Which really is the driving force behind my change. Why should something die for my food if I don’t actually want or enjoy it? It seemed wasteful and the opposite of mindful living.

Making the change to vegetarianism is not, strictly speaking, making life simpler. It is undoubtedly making the food I eat much simpler though, and that is agreeing with me.

I feel lighter and healthier. My digestion is better than it has ever been. I have lost a little weight. I’m eating more vegetables than ever before. I’m also making an effort to eat a much more balanced diet and not relying on meat to provide me with protein. I’m mindful of things like my iron intake, and eating a wider range of foods as a result.

I’m reading a lot more about nutrition and thinking about my food in a new way. Some resources that have been helpful are:

Later in the week I plan to ressurect my Slow Kitchen series, this time featuring some of the vegetarian recipes I’ve been eating a lot of lately. This week – lentil and vegetable chilli as given the thumbs up by a dedicated omnivore!

Are you currently eating a vegetarian or vegan diet? Or are you interested in trying it? Let me know if you have any questions about the transition or how to feed a meat-eating family while maintaining a vegetarian diet and I will try to drop some of my limited knowledge on you.

33 Responses to Why I decided to stop eating meat

  1. I would love to know more about how you balance your meatless meals with your family’s non-vegetarian preferences. I’m in the same situation, would be perfectly happy to quit eating meat but my husband and daughter disagree. I already make an effort to buy responsibly raised products so I’m doing my best there. But personally I could live without it. So, yes, please share what’s working for you!

    • It’s been surprisingly easy to accomodate both preferences, Tara. Typically I will make myself one large batch of a vego meal (chilli, vegetable tart, quinoa and roast veg, big tasty salad with beans, goats cheese etc) which provides enough for 3-4 meals for me. Then I will prepare the rest of the family’s meat and sides each day (EG. tonight they’re having chicken, sweet potato, coconut casserole with brown rice and veg) and serve my vego meal with the same sides as them. Other nights I will make something that we all like (vege quesadillas or a lentil chilli) and we can all eat that. My husband will almost always want some meat though, so he might have a lamb backstrap with that, or will sometimes cook himself chicken wings or ribs on the weekend and serve it with the meal. It’s finding that time 2-3 times a week to prep an extra meal and then being flexible enough to make it work over the rest of the week. So far so good, although I’m sure I’ll be finding new and better ways to do things as I go along. :)

  2. I dont eat a lot of meat either (mainly due to the cost, packs go further if they are divided up for meals for OH only instead of both of us), but my semi-veggie diet is very carb heavy as I tend to rely on jacket potatoes and pasta.
    I work full time and tend to see cooking as a chore and as we are on a very limited budget I would be grateful for any tips you could send my way. Oh, I also hate Tuna, celery and any type of cold fish and dont like spicy stuff like chilli and curry.

    • Sure thing, Jo. I’ve got some good cheap recipes that are easy to make in bulk and freeze, as well as some tasty one-pot wonders (pasta, roast veges etc). I’ve got a good recipe coming up on Thursday (it’s a chilli but with spice optional) and I’ll add some more over the next few weeks.

  3. I’ve been experimenting with vegetarian/vegan food over the last year or so and I too am very pleased with the results. I’ve lost 6 kilos since last Christmas – and years before that I was on the same weight or slowly gaining so this is huge for me. I totally believed that it’s simply my metabolism and I will never loose weight again. When I did, it was like new life started.

    And I didn’t even do any brutal changes. I am lucky to have a bf who loves to cook and he’s also very interested in healthy food so he was kinda forcing me (but I didn’t resist :)) into more rice, more beans, more veggies, and we weren’t giving much up, just replacing naturally. I even started enjoying salads, first with some bread (as I always believed no salad can fill me up), but then without it (cause I found out that was nonsense, a good amount of greens can fill you up totally and without the heavy feeling and tiredness afterwards). We gave up cow milk a year or so ago (tried all the others and I found out I love the rice and almond the most) and swaped meat for soya, tofu or quorn (seriously, guys, if it’s available in your country, try it out, it’s awesome) on any occasion (but still had meat cca two times a week). I love trying this, it’s fun and it didn’t take that much effort, we just had to think more and be willing to learn how to prepare these ingredients. I struggle more at home in Czech Republic as we don’t have that many options here and if they are in the shops, it’s quite expensive. I’ve lived in England before and it was so much easier. So I agree completely, this is not about making your life simple, quite the opposite. But it’s doing the right thing for your body, for the environment, for the world, for your conscience. It just makes sense. But needs the effort, yeah.

  4. Oooh thanks for including me! I feel very much the same as you – I have no problem with eating meat, it was the production of meat to make it cheaper and cheaper in the supermarket and whatever that didn’t sit well with me. I really just wanted to educate myself a bit more about the industries I was buying into. In the early days, I thought I’d just buy organic meat, but that was super-expensive and hard to find in those days, so I went without. Then I sort of just went without for the next eight years….

  5. Great post. My intro to being vegetarian was very similar – I realised I was eating meat because I thought I should, not because I was particularly enjoying it so cutting it out was a pretty simple change. Then the more I thought and learnt about it the less comfortable I was (particularly with the environmental impact, not to mention the poor animals obviously!) so sticking with it has never felt like a chore. I think it made me a better cook too as I was exploring a whole new approach to cooking so paid more attention to things like herbs & spices!

    • I agree! I’m thinking a lot more about what and how I’m cooking and I feel like my output is improving! And my tastebuds are changing too. I used to love rich, heavy foods but am finding more and more that I crave lighter, more subtle flavours. It’s a nice change – good for my digestion too!

  6. Well… I was a vegetarian for over 20 years, but recently started eating a small amount of meat again for health reasons. I don’t actually like meat that much, but my body apparently needs some. The fact that I’m allergic to most nuts & seeds, am lactose intolerant, and get migraines when I eat more than a very small amount of legumes (including soy) made it very difficult for me to eat a healthy vegetarian diet.

    So I sorta find that I have the opposite problem – I don’t know how to cook with meat! But, I’ve found that I can add a little meat to my vegetarian dishes and they turn out pretty well. That approach might work for people trying to feed both carnivores & vegetarians – prepare what is essentially a vegetarian meal and add some meat to it for the carnivores!

    • That’s interesting to hear, Eco, as I’ve heard quite a few others say the same thing lately. Add to it the fact that you can’t eat nuts, seeds and legumes, and you’re in a bit of a pickle! My suggestion (completely non-expertise) is exactly what you’re doing. Make your regular meals and then add in some protein in the form of fish (Atlantic salmon is a nice, tasty fish) or maybe marinated chicken kebabs or stirfry. The other option would be to hide it completely by adding some minced beef into a vege stew or chili maybe?

      Good luck!

  7. I am a farmer’s daughter and eat meat most nights. I plan to include more fish & veggie meal options into our diet. I also have a history of anaemia so would like to info on legumes and alternatives that are high in iron. Look forward to hearing about your 31 day challenge.

  8. I started a trial just under a year ago, and very similarly realised I wasn’t enjoying meat. I have since changed shape, my stomach has flattened, and my gut is a lot healthier. The rest of the family eat meat but I’ve found making split meals fairly simple once you get into the routine.

  9. We grow and ‘process’our own meat (pigs, lamb, and fish in the dams) so we usually have a freezer full of it, which we slowly eat our way through. But despite eating (and enjoying) meat, we still try to have a couple of meat free meals a week mainly for health and budget reasons. It really isn’t that hard. I do think that it would be harder for us to follow a strict vegan diet (we have chickens for eggs). I do like the fact that we know exactly what has gone into our meat, and that it has had a good life, and a quick, humane death.

    • Jo, I love that you guys have a genuine and real connection to the meat you’re eating. I think a lot of us would benefit from that kind of understanding, rather than simply heading to the supermarket and buying pre-cut, wrapped meat. I think it gives people a greater respect for what they’re eating and, as you say, the life the animal had. :)

  10. Great post! I am a life-long vegetarian (my parents raised me that way and I’ve stuck with it). It is always incredibly interesting to me to read about other people’s journeys to vegetarian living. I’d love to read more about this journey! Maybe some information on your meals, food prep, or noticeable healthy benefits/changes? Thanks for sharing :)

  11. When my family was still with me, we focused on meat even though I never really ate much of it. I think I still liked it then, but not as much as I did vegetables and the “sides”. The shift really came when I started making all the sides and the vegetables heartier and more complete. That focused the meal for me and meat was always second thought for everyone else. I have been mostly vegetarian for almost 10 years. I still like seafood and eat it twice a month. I also had quail and duck in France (where else should you have it – so different there.) Every once in awhile, i think I want to have meat and I tried it again twice, but I did not love it or felt something was missing from my life. I feel so much better than I ever have. Definitely a lighter feeling. I think what helps and that so many people would be better to try to live by is to eat whatever you want, but half of your plate (or bowl, or whatever) needs to be veggies. That really is the game changer. If half of my plate was just peas, it would get old after awhile. Better recipes are more satisfying. it still amazes me when my high school students ask me what I eat for holiday meals. The meat is usually just one of their many dishes. My others are just more hearty and healthy.

    • I agree Louise. I think a big part of my shift came when I just increased my vegetable intake. By default my meat intake decreased and from there I realised that I didn’t love the meat anyway. I think it was a way to recalibrate my tastebuds and the cravings my body was telling me it had.

  12. This sounds interesting – I might be tempted to give it a go for a short time. I also have always liked vegetarian food, and don’t really notice or miss meat if I don’t have it in a meal. I think I could try this for a while – although I’d definitely miss spaghetti bolognese and lasagne if I did it for too long!
    I’ve recently started a blog on minimalism and have just found your blog – a really interesting read, thanks!
    Maria

  13. Hey Brooke!

    Yesterday I wrote about how I am going to do a 30 day Salad Challenge,(just for fun, not for weight loss or any reason really, just because I love salad) & Lisa Berson said I should check out your vego challenge.

    I too limit my meat intake purely because I’d rather not eat a heap of it but am unsure if I’d be able to go without it completely. I’m interested to read how you find it. And in all honety, if anything was going to make me slip & reach for some meat it’d be bacon too ;)

  14. I’m looking forward to this series coming back because I’m always on the lookout for vegetarian recipes. For the past few years we’ve been at 3-4 vegetarian dinners per week. Thankfully my husband is completely on board with this and my kids could care less. Funny thing is while I enjoy them and this is something I feel strongly about it’s also made me realize how much I really do like meat. It’s been an interesting process learning what dishes I prefer with meat vs. those I can do without. Sourcing food locally is extremely important for us so I feel okay serving my family meat I’ve bought directly from the farmer, especially if said farm is only 40 minutes from my house. Striving for mindful meat consumption has been my focus.

    I’d love to find more vegan meals but it’s actually been a challenge. Not because we’re so attached to dairy but so many vegan recipes either involve pasta, are way more complicated than I have time to make on a regular basis, or just plain weird to the point where I know my kids wouldn’t eat them. Thankfully we’re happy with tofu or beans and rice but you can only eat so much of those choices before they get old!

  15. Hi Brooke,
    An inspiring read. I, myself have thought about this option. My 4 year old is a picky eater and doesn’t particularly enjoy eating meat or chicken. We tend to have beef mince, sausages, the occasional bacon and the odd chicken dish. I have to hide our veggies but he is slowly coming around. I can actually tell him some ingredients now without worrying he wont eat it. Do you eat meat substitutes (quorn) or just bulk out with veggies, if you were eating something like spaghetti bolognese?

  16. I’m really glad you’re giving this a go. I’ve only been actively looking at simplicity/minimalism for a few months, but I’ve been vegetarian for 13 years and vegan for two years. Most of the vegans and veggies I know are driven by compassion, and that’s a huge aspect of simplicity for me.
    I couldn’t feel I lead a simple life if I was causing animals to be bred and to die for me, usually under conditions completely outside my control (factory farms, slaughterhouses). It’s emotionally much simpler to not be a part of those practices, and also much more environmentally sustainable.
    And most of the vegans I know are a lot more adventurous about food than the meat eaters – the world really opens up when you don’t expect your dinner to consist of meat and two veg.

  17. I’ve been steadily getting more “picky” with my meat for the last few years, last week I decided to also go vego (well, vego with fish and dairy permitted)
    I’ve only been at it a few days but I feel great
    Looking forward to seeing some of your receipe ideas!
    I have a carnivore hubby, but we’re looking to cook his meat, plus a side which will either be my meal or a side to my meal so our dinners are always related.

  18. Me too, I have started not to eat meat. I replaced it with salad. At first I don’t enjoy it. I don’t like the taste. But after a month, I am starting to crave for salad veggies every time after eating.

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