Man vs. Meat – The End?
We have come to the official end of the Man vs. Meat challenge.† For the month of January I was completely meat-free (meaning no pig, swine, pork, oh those are the same, beef, chicken, turkey or spam).
Now that the official challenge is over and it is February 12, almost two weeks post challenge; I still havenít eaten meatÖ.and I donít know why.† I guess I realized that I CAN live without the meat and that over the course of 30 days I realized I donít care as much as I thought I did.† I could drum up some philosophical questions like: Has society trained us to focus on meat?† Is it a government conspiracy to keep us eating meat? But that would be a little ridiculous.† I have, however, come up with my own theory of why we continue to eat meat the way we do.† This theory is not supported by any data, motivation or monetary backing.† The Green-Lemonade corporate staff have not endorsed this, so come after me if you donít like it.
Meet the Meat Theory
When was the last time you saw a cow, pig, chicken or turkey?† For most of Americans the last time was not that recent, and driving by one on a highway doesnít count.† Not so many years ago that wasnít true.† Many Americans lived on farms or in communities where the meat they bought was raised locally and they may even have some investment in the raising of that animal.† Today most people couldnít even find their local chicken or beef farmer. In fact, those farmers might not be around you anymore.† There has been a wave of consolidation of livestock farms into mega-farms that are operated often far away from most metro centers.
Why is this important?† Have you ever noticed how hard it is be harm someone you know either physically or emotionally, even someone you may just barely know.† Isolation has become a norm in our culture.† We donít know our neighbors, community leaders or colleagues with the same intimacy that used to exist.† Well, we have become disassociated with our food chain.† I walked into a pig farm the other day and stood there staring into the eyes of some pink beauties.† I thought, ďI probably couldnít get myself to kill you guys.Ē We are thankfully not faced with that decision on a daily basis.† Instead the pink guys show up in pretty packages on our shelves and we donít think about the animal that it came from.† What if every time you picked up a package of ground beef it mooed at you?† You might think twice about that package.† It made we wonder if we were really meant to eat these things.† I theorize that because we have become so disassociated with our food source, we really donít even know what we are eating.
I donít want to be a person who is against meat eaters, I definitely have eaten my share of meat and may eat it again.† The only message here is this:† Letís get back to basics.† Find a local farmer, talk to them, find out about what you eat.† Invest in a cow and go help the farmer out for an hour on a weekend.† The farmer will let you, they love sharing their profession with others.† At least you will have met your meat, and you might think twice about eating it.
Day 18 – Man vs. Meat
18 Days into the Man vs. Meat Challenge – Status – Very alive, no cravings, 167 lbs
Another week down and the challenge is plodding along, I even forget that I am trying to do this…(meaning I don’t really miss the meat, not that I slip up)
1.† This will be more difficult for the undisciplined single guy.† I am lucky to be in a house where my wife is really interested in new foods and is willing to help out with making dinners.† I think back to when I lived with a guy roommate (and two other hooligans next door) after college.† We were reasonably healthy guys, but it was always easy to grab some quick food.† As with any single person, you need to be wiling to go to the store more frequently for fresh food, read recipes and probably spend more time in the kitchen.† If I were single, I would recommend inviting people over a couple times a week and make dinners for a friend or two.† This will give you some people to eat at HOME with and as always, misery needs company.
2. Our world is not set up for vegetarians – I went to the Cavs game in Cleveland on Friday night.† The ‘Q’ is a great stadium and relatively new, but it still holds the traditional stadium food.† Veggie options include bad soft pretzels, chips, fries, etc.† We ended up in a Quaker State restaurant at halftime and I ate some cheese fries (hold the bacon) since there was no other options.† I can imagine that if you are a person who eats fast food a lot, you will need to be very careful when starting a veggie diet.† A lot of places leave you only few and not good options.† Plan ahead, bring snacks, people won’t be offended.
3.† You can forget about meat pretty quickly – I am not sure if its because meat was not the center of our diet, but its become seemingly easy to forget about the meat.† It only seems noticeable when we end up in a traditionally ‘meat’ place.† We went to Buffalo Wild Wings with some friends for lunch, and to their credit, they do have some veggie options.† Liz and I both got the veggie burger, which was more bun than burger, and left me eating more fries than I normally would have.† It’s like trying to lose weight, instead of hiding it or acting like you aren’t trying to lose weight, its easier to just tell everyone what your doing and try to find compromises on places to eat.† You will feel better and probably be surprised that others don’t really care.
To close out this post, I would like to highlight a few new things I have eaten.† We have had tempeh and some tofu to help keep the protein in the diet.† I think the “I need protein in my diet” for meat eaters is a pretty poor excuse.† Its is apparent to me now that it is a lazy excuse.† I have been pleasent surprised with some eggplant sandwiches I had, especially the one at Melt in Cleveland.† Overall, we have been able to find some good fish and veggie items.† If you are ever in trouble, just grab a veggie pizza and you can’t go wrong.
More in a few days!
Day 9 – Man vs. Meat
9 Days into the Man vs. Meat challenge – STATUS – Alive, minimal cravings, weight (tbd on Sunday)
Before I go too far into the details of the first nine days I figure a little background on me is in order.† I can basically carve my life up into several health/weight phases:
Phase 1 (birth – 7th grade) – Really no clue what was going on with food.† Maintained a relatively normal weight.† I ate whatever my parents put in front of me, which included anything at the grocery, and was not healthy for sure.
Phase 2 (7th grade – 9th grade) – Generally referred to as my “milkshake” phase by my family.† I may have blocked this time out of my mind, but I was pretty chubby and had not hit puberty.† I think at the end I weighed close to 190 lbs and I was only about 5′ 7″.† Awesome.
Phase 3 (10th grade – college) – I finally hit puberty, lost about 30 lbs and was really into sports.† With all the activity I began cutting fat out of my diet and eating ‘fat free’ stuff.† You may remember this era….they pumped everything up with sugar, but kept the fat out. Geniuses.
Phase 4 (Post college – now) – Compliments of my wife Liz, I took the South Beach challenge in 2003 and lost about 15 unwanted pounds and realized that starchy carbs really can put the “lbs” on quick for me.† We have progressively become more into healthy foods.† Overall we try to eat in moderation, mostly natural, whole foods, no preservatives, etc.
Currently I weigh 168 (as of 1/1/09).† I would say that’s about 5-8 lbs above my ideal weight.† I am training for the American Triple T , so I am burning a fair amount of calories a week.† My normal diet includes some meat, especially when I travel for work, which tends to be 50 – 70% of the time.† In general, I like most meats, but as of late I have tried to stay away from all overly processed meat.† I have fast food about once a year.† That should be enough info for you to know that I am very NORMAL.
Day 1 – 9
Overall the diet is seemingly easy, however I have not traveled much at this point.† Because I am creature of habit wen it comes to eating, when I am home, my diet stays pretty constant.† Here’s a typical sample.
Lunch: Avacado Sammy (1 slice of ezekial bread, half an avacado, some red onion, and feta cheese), carrots and pretzels.
Snack: Crackers/Pretzels/Carrots and hummus
Dinner: Veggie Soup or Fish, small salad or greens, maybe some small dessert.
This diet is very easy when: A. you work from home, and B. your wife helps make dinner.† We love to cook together, but I would have trouble doing this on my own day to day.
I did have one travel experience this week and I ended up at Subway for lunch.† I had a 6″ Veggie Sub.† Surprisingly, this is a pretty good sammy and because most of the meat at Subway is so low quality you end up not missing anything.
I have only had a few cravings for a good cheeseburger, but nothing that has driven me to just grab a handful of ground chuck slam it down.