Last month was the longest I’ve gone without eating meat in my adult life. I’d gone days or a week (maybe) without eating meat, but this was the first time I went an entire month.
I’ve been interested in becoming a vegetarian for some time now for moral, environmental, and health reasons. It is much harder to say “today is the day I stop eating meat for the rest of my life” vs. “for the next 30 days I won’t be a meat-eater”. I’m not quite ready to commit all the way (thought I will still go plenty of days meat-free), but I know now that it is possible and even something I would not miss terribly. When thinking about quitting meat, or even giving up alcohol, I can’t get over the social connection that those activities can bring.
Bunk and McNulty bonding over a (meat-heavy) meal and drinks
During the beginning of the month I noticed after eating meals how much quicker the feeling of being full went away. By the time I was ready to eat the next meal I didn’t care what time it was, I was ready to eat right then. This was different than the usual sitting down at “dinner time” and thinking “I am sort of hungry”. Also throughout the whole month I never once got that feeling that so many of us get after a meal. You feel that you ate too much, become extremely tired, and your stomach feels like it’s going to burst. Even when eating a large vegetarian meal I never once got that uncomfortable full feeling. Anecdotally I feel that this overly full feeling may have something to do with eating meat.
I thought I would feel cravings for meat during this month, but this was not the case at all. Even someone who drinks alcohol casually knows (or maybe doesn’t know because they haven’t changed their drinking habits since they started) that when you take a break from drinking, these little cravings can start to pop into your head. This can be uncomfortable, because we don’t want to acknowledge this connection that has been developing in our brain since we started drinking alcohol, but it is there in some way for many people. I thought there could be some similar connection for eating meat, but I never once felt a craving for a steak, burger, or any type of meat dish that I previously enjoyed. I didn’t get to walk by a steakhouse or a BBQ restaurant (quarantine) but I imagine I would not have felt this strong pull to go inside. I think in the future this association of the “overly full” feeling with eating meat will discourage me even more.
One more thing to bring up that most people keep private: bowel movements! Maybe we should normalize talking about this more, I know some people actually like this topic but for me it seems a little taboo and not something to get into with strangers. Anyway, in previous months I would say I was a strictly 1 bowel movement per day person - in the morning, after drinking a cup of coffee. During the month I ate a vegetarian diet I had some days like this, but more frequently had days where it was 2-4 bowel movements a day. This was a pretty surprising change and it did not take too long for my body to get on this new rhythm. I had heard this before about eating a vegetarian diet but was skeptical about it being true. I am no longer a skeptic.
In the end I thought this was a great exercise and helped me realize that when I’m ready I can be a vegetarian full-time. I felt the same or better throughout the month, had plenty of energy, never felt like I got hit by a truck after a large meal, didn’t contribute to harming any animals, and had a smaller carbon footprint.