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One Year Of Vegetarian Living

26 January 2010 3 Comments

One year ago I stopped eating meat of any kind which was a pretty big step for me. Even bigger is that I’ve kept it up and now the idea of eating meat is just repugnant to me.

That’s quite something coming from a person who has a very limited track record of sticking to anything for long. It’s also from someone who was an avid and enthusiastic carnivore until this time last year.

I wrote an article last year about some of the benefits I’d noticed (‘6 Reasons Eating Vegetarian Food Is Best‘) and I thought it about time to update that and add in some new insights now the novelty has worn off.

1. Less Sleep

This was something I noticed almost immediately and it surprised me – cutting out meat seems to have reduced the amount of sleep I need. Initially this was 90 minutes a night but it seems to have stabilised to around an hour. Even so, this is a huge benefit for me and means I can either enjoy a slow winding up for the day or simply get more done.

When I wrote about this before some people reacted that it was probably something else I did that caused it. Obviously I can’t scientifically prove that cutting meat means less sleep and I know we all work differently on a physical level. Intuitively, I’m sure it was the cause and that’s good enough for me.

2.  Feeling Healthier

Gone are the days of an unpleasant heavy sensation in my stomach after a big meat meal. I remember it felt as though I’d swallowed a big ball of flesh that my stomach was having a hard time to digest. I find it hard to over-eat on a staple of veggies, rice, dairy and pulses. I guess it’s that they’re bulkier and fill the stomach faster.

I just feel better in my body most of the time.

I’ve stopped during the winter months, but over the summer I felt like exercising daily – something I’ve not done for many years. I’m pretty sure my running shoes will see the daylight again once the temperature rises and I can safely jog without risking a heart attack from the biting cold.

Actually I don’t think this is anything to do with a vegetarian diet being physically any healthier. It’s more that my mental health is improved – as if the act of stopping meat was cleansing in itself.

3.  Saving Money

Meat is definitely more expensive – both at home and eating out – and I’ve saved some money on grocery bills. I’ve also substituted some of those savings to buy organic and ecological where possible. I find it sad and frustrating that non-mass-produced food is so much more expensive than factory-made but that’s one of the wonderful results of capitalism and the market economy!

Ideally, I’d love to grow and eat some of my own food but that will have to wait until I move out of the city and into the countryside and have some land to use. For now, all food is bought and with another mouth to feed any day now, the small savings of a vegetarian diet are very welcome.

4.  Speed versus Choice

Cutting out a whole food group clearly has consequences on the amount of choice when deciding what to eat. I eat out less than I used to and the smaller number of options on most menus is one of the reasons. I’m not complaining but just noticing it. On one hand it’s a logical consequence of not eating meat and, by definition, there’s always going to be less choice for me in any non-vegetarian restaurant.

Eastern Europe (and not only) does not cater well to those who don’t eat flesh. Restaurants catering for vegetarians are extremely rare and on a typical restaurant menu I estimate around 95% of non-sweet dishes contain meat. That saves me a lot of time when choosing from a menu but makes it far less enjoyable to eat out.

5.  More Highly Evolved

This one is hard for me and a constant struggle.

I noticed it right away, I fight it, I’m not proud of it … but I have caught myself looking down on meat eaters as less evolved human beings. It comes out as smugness, snide and unpleasant comments to family and friends as well as holding my head a little higher as I come out of the organic shop with my latest healthy purchase.

That sounds absolutely terrible, doesn’t it?

And it is.

I hope this is a passing ‘obnoxious’ phase as I fully develop into, and own, being a non-meat eater. Most of my family and friends eat meat. In fact, the majority of the human race eats meat and I really do respect whatever dietary choices people choose. At the same time I can’t shake this idea that myself I’m now more developed than I was as a meat eater.

I just wish I didn’t take it further and make the leap that I’m superior to others. That’s just arrogant and wrong!

6.  I am NOT ‘A Vegetarian’

When people notice that I don’t have any meat on my plate I’m quite often asked, ‘Are you a vegetarian?’ as though it’s some strange and mysterious breed of creature.

Often I just answer ‘yes’ because I’m too lazy to explain but I really don’t like being labelled for anything – relating to what I eat is no exception. There’s no label for ‘meat eater’ (well, except for ‘meat eater’) so why have one for people who don’t eat meat? Lumping large numbers of people together in a single unified category is dangerous and doesn’t get us anywhere.

I once worked in a very posh training centre close to Brussels. They had a professional chef who was very good and took great pride in his cooking. He also had a belief that ‘vegetarians’ are crazy, stupid and a sure sign of the decay of the modern world. He reluctantly catered for them, but I was always a little nervous that he might poison them. I’ve no doubt that some ‘vegetarians’ are crazy and stupid, but then some meat eaters are not well balanced either.

7.  Separate Meals

While I may hold this belief that giving up meat was a positive step in my personal development, I’m not so arrogant to impose that on anyone else. I regard it as a personal choice and I continue to serve meat for other people (mainly my kids and Mona).

I also don’t expect anyone to prepare something special for me when we socialise. I’m quite ok to eat what everyone else is eating – just skipping the meat dishes. I’m fortunate that all my family are very supportive and go out of their way to prepare special veggie meals when I visit, and I’m really grateful for and touched by that.

Mona gave up meat at the same time I did, but her pregnancy kind of sabotaged that. I’m not saying that vegetarianism and pregnancy don’t go together – but she did succumb to a craving for fish and a little meat. We both believe that our bodies give us clear signs about what we’re missing, and she took the cravings as just that. I also spend a lot of time as single father to my 6 year old and I prepare meat for her.

I guess if my vegetarianism was morally driven then I’d not do that, but it’s not, so I do.

The downside, of course, is extra complexity, waste and more energy consumption in preparing meals. I sometimes wonder if it’s just pure self indulgence on my side but then I look at the bigger picture of my life and I stay with it.

8.  Do I Miss Anything?

I’ve not had any desire to eat meat from mammals.

I did pass a grill in the summer and enjoyed the smell of cooking meat – but not enough to actually eat it. I feel very comfortable with the thought that I’ll never eat cow, pig, sheep or chicken again before I die.

I do miss fish and seafood, though, and in particular sushi.

Not sure how that will play out this year and I’m just going to see where that takes me. I know from past experience that the more I fight something, the greater power I give it. Fortunately Mona doesn’t like seafood at all, so we never buy it.

It could just be a passing phase – or I may start eating a little fish now and then.

Overall this year has been a very positive experience and if anyone is thinking about stopping meat I highly recommend you give it a try.


  • Melvina said:

    Whoever edits and puselbhis these articles really knows what they’re doing.

  • kuendigung kredit ohne jimdo said:

    Pues sí fue buena la noche, el rincón de las borrachas se hizo realidad.Y cómo yo sólo bebo alcohol por este rincón, pues vamos a tomarnos unos mojitos a nuestra salud y a la de los taberneros, que menuda envidía me disteis.

  • car progressive springs said:

    Kiitos tuosta lainauksesta! Olet onnistunut saamaan sen netistä ladattavan pdf-tiedoston auki? En meinaan saa sitä edes ladattavaan muotoon. Pitäisi varmaan tehdä jotain Adobe readerilleni.Mistä kohtaa kyseinen teksti on napattu pois? Haluan laittaa sen oikealle kohdalleen.Ne lainaukset joita olen voinut esittää Mullerilta ovat tulleet suoraan PandasThumbista löytämieni linkkien kautta. Juuri siksi tuo koko Genetics artikkeli kiinnostaa hirveästi.

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