For anyone who doesn't know already, I challenged myself last March to give up meat for 30 days. I completed the 30 days better than I thought I would and kept going and going and going. Now it has been 1 year this weekend! It started as something I've always wanted to try and I finally picked a start date and told myself to try it for 30 days. During those 30 days of researching recipes and trying to meet my dietary needs I learned so much about our food industry and what meat does to our body that I made the choice to try as long as I could. So as the year passed on I really lost the desire to eat meat and cooking without it was really simple. Sure I miss some things but usually only when I'm really hungry. Matt has also been on board with the diet. He did it for 30 days with me and then would eat meat only when something really good came along. Now he has been 100% meat free since September. We experienced all of the changes they said we would in the beginning. You feel better overall, your gut feels light as a feather and digestion is way quicker! Did you know that meat can hang around in your intestines for up to 3 days! It's hard for me to feel the changes now because it has been so long but in that first 30-90 days I felt great! We also tried the vegan thing for 1 week, where you eat no animal products, milk, cheese, etc. That is way harder to do and I have respect for anyone who does it. We still have vegan days but I really don't think that's for me.
So now to some of the common remarks I get from someone.
Have I lost weight from it?
Actually no. We both gained just a few pounds in about a 9 month period. I think this is because we ate a lot of carbs in the beginning and we had the mind set that if it wasn't meat we could eat it. I also noticed that I started craving a lot more junk food to make up for the fat I wasn't getting anymore. Plus we weren't exercising much during that time. Now we have all that under control. I do believe that someone could lose a lot of weight from it if they watch their carbs from the get go.
Be careful that you get your protein!
In the beginning this was something that I was very cautious of. People had me so freaked out at work that I was afraid I would just fall over because my muscles were so weak! I have learned that this is the biggest concern with people trying it. I have also learned that people think we need a lot more protein than our body really does need. It's something we still need to watch but if you have a good diet you will get plenty of protein! I've actually been working out a lot lately for a weight loss competition and my muscles are doing great!
So what happens if you want to eat meat again?
This is actully interesting. I've heard stories from several other people that didn't eat meat for a while that when they tried it again they threw up. How can that be good for you? I'm pretty sure if you didn't eat lettuce for 6 months and then tried it that you wouldn't throw up....unless it was tainted with salmonella :) Matt actually had a bad effect from meat after not eating it for about 4 months. So if we start eating meat again we will have to slowly phase it back in to our body.
So to celebrate my success that I never thought I would have I'm going to share some of our favorite meat free recipes through this month. If you are afraid you won't get full off of some of these than just make more of it or have a little salad also.
whole wheat flat pitas
hummus, preferably red-pepper flavor
black beans, drained
red onion, cut into small strips
red bell pepper, diced
fresh cilantro, chopped
shredded cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 450. Place pitas on cookie sheet. Spread hummus on pitas. Top each pita with all the other toppings. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes until cheese is melted. Slice pita into 4 wedges and eat.
Black Bean Lettuce Bundles(makes 4)
1 can black beans, drained
1 avocado, mashed
1/2 green pepper, diced
1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tblsp lime juice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup salsa
8 large romaine lettuce leaves
Mash beans and avocado together. Mix in all other ingrediants except lettuce. Place about 1/4 cup of filling into center of each lettuce leaf and roll like a tortilla.
More to come!