So this is where I'm at: for ethical and health reasons, this past year I've slowly been changing my diet from that of a mostly meat eater to a vegetarian based one. I would say right now I am about 80-85% vegetarian. This has been long in coming. For the past decade or so I've been interested in adopting a cleaner, more plant-based vegetarian diet but, like many meat eaters, I believed that it was impossible to get all the essential nutrients needed to maintain a healthy body primarily from those sources alone. In lieu, what I have been doing for the past decade is eating everything organic. I ceased buying beef that came from cattle raised in deplorable, inhumane conditions which were injected with hormones and antibiotics that made them grow larger and stay somewhat healthy (although this point can be debated); the same went for chicken and, no more farm-raised fish as well.
For the past decade I've also immersed myself in reading everything on how a vegetarian diet has a direct impact on health-related conditions. When meat eaters switched to a vegetarian diet they lost the weight and could now claim a better quality of life; not only did they feel better and had more energy but many had ceased needing their blood pressure medicines or had reversed their diabetes. The evidence was there. It was proven in study after study. Yet, I couldn't figure out how to stop eating meat myself because a lifetime of ingrained belief that viewed animal protein as the only form of protein was one that I had a difficult time letting go. Whenever I attempted to begin a more plant-based diet, the mind proved to be more powerful than evidence because on the third day of no meat I would always end up weak and lethargic. This was partly based on this belief that I needed animal protein for energy that I couldn't let go (even though I wanted to) and also on the fact that I was eating all the wrong foods. To switch to a plant-based diet one has to make sure protein as well as other essential nutrients are being met. The coffees, sugars, and white-based carbs that I was existing on as substitute only served in spiking my sugars and making me feel more ill rather than healthy. Obviously, the "I want to be a vegetarian so bad but find I can't be," song and dance was still just hot air and, retrospectively, I wasn't ready.
Fast forward to last year. After watching yet another documentary on the heartbreaking conditions of how cattle is raised and its impact on our health, something switched. I couldn't eat meats so much anymore, organic or not. I began to read again on vegan/vegetarian lifestyles and discovered ultra-athletes like Rich Roll, a vegan (a plant-based diet alone, no dairy or fish) who manages to get sufficient protein to maintain his extreme athletic lifestyle. I said to myself then that if he could do it, then surely I could as well. I just had to stop getting in my way and allowing my mind to rule and view the evidence before me. I ceased eating red meat and cut down on chicken considerably. I instituted a more plant-based diet that only included wild fish and occasionally organic, cage-free eggs. And something remarkable happened. I found I could live on plant-based foods and get my protein without touching the meats. Months later when I went out to eat, I ordered red meat as a "treat" since I rarely ate it anymore. I found it non-palatable, even difficult to ingest. My taste buds had changed and I found the taste and smell of it repulsed me. Then, of course, I kicked myself for partaking once again in the cruelty of ingesting an animal that had suffered.
And the same thing happened with milk. It's been a year since I've had milk. For ethical and health reasons again I ceased drinking it. Anyone that knows me and reads this blog knows how much of an animal advocate I am and so this road to vegetarianism and perhaps one day veganism, fits just right with my thinking. But the ingrained lesson that we are raised with that meat = protein, even to the detriment of our health, was hard in breaking. That's why I said the road was slow.
But break it I did. And I feel so much better. Gone are the cravings and I can go to dinner or a BBQ and not feel the urge to eat outside of what I now eat. My skin is glowing and the dark circles under my eyes - that have been there all of my life - are gone. And the upside is that I finally got the Beloved on board. He finally saw the light as well and so it has now become much easier because I no longer have to buy meats to accommodate him. The effects on him have been transformational as well.
That's where I'm at, this is what I've been doing, and the road is looking good....