Beginning tomorrow, I will be embarking in a new 30 Day Challenge, where I will follow a no-meat, vegetarian diet. Before I get into my reasons for wanting to try this challenge and what I hope to gain from the experience, I feel that I first need to provide an honest reflection of where I am as I begin this challenge.
I am a MEAT EATER. I revel in my omnivorous leanings and delight in making and eating steak, bacon, chicken, shrimp, and quite frankly just about any meat-based protein. In ‘preparation’ for my 30 day meat free diet, today I ate a cheese burger for lunch and Italian sausage with bacon laden loaded baked potatoes for dinner. I eat meat for almost every lunch and dinner. I hate tofu. Meals don’t feel complete without meat as a main course. And up until rather recently I would roll my eyes and the very thought of a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle.
This challenge has also probably received the most criticism and divisiveness from friends and families. Some have been pretty excited and supportive but many have been less enthusiastic. My mom looked at me with a mild horror: “what will you eat??”… “you need to be awfully careful with your diet”. Others just looked at me incredulously “why would you do that???”
About 10 years ago I attempted to try a vegetarian diet. I lasted 36 hours, specifically 2 lunches, 1 breakfast, and 1 dinner. So there are a lot of potential hangups and pitfalls for me in taking on this challenge. But as I think about reasons for doing this, I have developed some pretty clear motivation.
Finding Inspiration and Staying Motivated
- Focused Food: I recently watched the documentary based off Michael Pollan’s book, In Defense of Food. I have never been a huge proponent of never, ever eating meat and his 7 words of wisdom “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants” resonates with me. There is value in eating well, in enjoying food and being mindful about what you eat. I like that principle and feel like that is a great tenet to follow as I begin this challenge.
- Improved Health: This tends to be one of the top arguments in favor of vegetarian and vegan based diets. The improved health benefits for plant based diets is widespread and pretty well documented.
- Lowered Carbon Footprint: To be able to personally make a small positive impact on the environment by reducing my personal carbon footprint is hugely motivating.
- Involvement and Support from Others: A few days ago, I was chatting with a co-worker and mentioned that I was going to be embarking on this meat-free challenge and she and her husband decided to join! I also have gotten some great feedback and insights from actual vegetarians and vegans, which makes me feel pretty optimistic.
- Internal Stubbornness: Most importantly, the desire to make it a full 30 days and commit to this challenge will be the final push in hopefully getting me through this challenge.