What I've Learned From Not Eating Red Meat For Four Months

Thursday, January 5, 2017


Let me start by saying we've lost zero weight and have gained several opinions.

In the middle of September of 2016 Chris and I stopped eating red meat, or "mammals" as Chris likes to say. I like to say I don't eat my neighbor (the cute little black pig who walks down my alley on a leash every day.) We still eat fish, chicken, and turkey. So it's not like we made a HUGE change by any means. Although cutting out steaks and hamburgers was pretty big for Chris.

Truthfully, neither of us made this choice with the desire to lose weight so there's no real shock/disappointment there. If you saw our weekend diets you'd be appalled.

My reason has to due with the way our culture treats farm animals, Chris's has more to do with the environment.

And before I continue this post any further let me stop and say that I am in no way suggesting or trying to persuade you to stop eating meat. It's your life. DO WHAT YOU WANT. Likewise, I'm not saying you don't like animals and/or the environment if you do eat meat. To each their own.

That being said, here's what I've discovered in the past four months.

Several people suddenly seem to have an opinion about our "new diet." And it's annoying AF. It's as if once someone hears we're not eating meat, they suddenly think they need to defend why they are. But here's the thing, they don't! I get it, meat tastes good.

We're simply choosing not to eat it at the moment.

I know what you're thinking, why would someone feel the need to defend their diet simply in learning about ours? I have no idea. But we've come across this several, several times. Mind you, it's not like we're parading this around, just announcing it to the world every chance we get. *said the girl writing the blog post... Hey, I needed content ideas and also I waited four months to even bring it up so that has to be worth something, right? 

Anyway.

We've heard every response from, "just two of you not eating meat won't make a difference," to "what about the laws of the food chain!" to even, "global warming isn't even real so what's it matter." And then I slam my head into a wall.

I don't want to turn this political, I just know we both feel better physically and mentally leaving red meat out of our diet so why would anyone have an issue with this?

Recent conversations have also made me question things I've said in the past to vegans/vegetarians/gluten-free/ anyone who eats anything that's different than what I call normal!

I feel like there's a difference between being curious and being judgy... Although the line is sometimes blurred.

I think a big part of what I've mentioned above has to do with the fact we live in the Midwest, with roots in Nebraska. I imagine telling our friends and family in Nebraska we don't eat meat has to be similar to telling your friends and family in California that you do...  Someone is always going to have something to say.

All this being said, we may eat meat today. Or tomorrow. We started this with the intention of taking it day by day. We're heading to Cuba next month and both want to eat some tasty Cubano sandwiches, so we may have to let go of the diet on vacay.

But I really don't think I'll ever go back to eating meat like I did (in mass consumption) but maybe we'll go back to one day a week, or just while on vacay. Like I said, who knows?! Moral of the story, live your life how you see best.

*unless that involves swimming with dolphins. Why is this still a thing? WHY?




39 comments:

  1. I haven't had red meat for three years. I so understand what you mean about people "lecturing" me on my diet.

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
    http://charmainenyw.com

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  2. I've been vegetarian for 18 years and I still hear grief from people. I've never understood why my diet interests people so much, or, like you said, causes them to defend their meat-eating choices. Live and let live already.

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  3. Being an agriculture/animal science major, I feel compelled to comment! First off, I'll start by saying I completely respect anyone's choice to eat/not eat meat. To each their own. However, I know there are a lot of misconceptions about the way livestock are raised and treated. Animal agriculture and agriculture literacy as a whole are my passions, so if you have any questions about how our livestock is raised, please do not hesitate to reach out and ask! I don't know your specific concerns, but I will end with this - the livestock in American (and across the world) are raised very ethically. The well-being of the animals is of the utmost importance to farmers - if it wasn't, we wouldn't have the quality of food we have! Many companies and groups like to spin or interpret information to fit their bias, and a lot of it comes simply from a lack of understanding about why things are done certain ways. Like I said, you do you and keep on keeping on with not eating red meat, but if you have anything specific you want to know, I have a myriad of good, scientific resources about animal agriculture.

    -Taylor | Positively Taylor

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    1. What about the science about how bad consuming beef is for the environment even compared to other meats like chicken/turkey/fish?

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    2. Your insight and knowledge into this topic brings me hope. And I want to believe it in its entirety, but I'm speaking from things I've seen firsthand :( not necessarily how livestock is grown, but how it's transported. Driving across Iowa and Nebraska as frequently as I do I can't tell you how many times I've seen semis full of live pigs stacked on top of each other (literally) covered in their own feces, making the worst sounds I've ever heard.

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    3. Not to mention there is a huge difference between factory farming and private farming.

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    4. yes exactly! like night and day.

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  4. I'm impressed that you've been able to eliminate something from your diet! I'm just not that disciplined... I never realized I rarely ate red meat growing up until I married into a family who eats red meat at most meals. They hunt for their own meat (which was a foreign concept to me being from Austin, TX), but now I understand & respect why they do it. First of all, it's good for conservation of the animals (i.e. specified hunting seasons, making sure they don't starve to death from overpopulation, humane one shot/one kill, etc.) and secondly, they aren't living in the horrible conditions that some animals are subjected to. They live a full, long life. Saying all that, I frankly don't give two rats' asses what anyone else decides to eat or not eat. Every body is different and needs different things to survive at its fullest. Can't wait for the follow up post about Cuba! How cool!

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  5. "Global warming isn't even real so what's it matter. And then I slam my head into a wall."

    THIS. Been there too many times over the past few months. I even was on the phone with my dad a couple of months ago discussing this, and I told him I couldn't deal with him anymore and hung up. We still love each other but #trump. :(

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  6. I stopped eating red meat in July 2015 after seeing a cute video of a cow cuddling with a man that looked so much like my dog it makes me sick to consider eating beef (even though I really miss cheeseburgers). Literally it was that one video that changed my mind. Then I started reading about how bad consuming beef is for the environment and it just cemented my decision (I have slipped up three times- all without thinking: a taco, nachos, and meatballs!).

    But I totally get what you're saying about judging too-- but the environment thing is much easier for me to explain the no beef thing than just - cows are cute.

    Also, please add "people riding elephants"* to your list of things to judge people for! It's so outrageously offensive to me that when people post pics of this it literally looks like animal abuse to me and I can't grapple with the fact that people are SMILING while doing it.

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    1. Animals are not ours for entertainment and it absolutely infuriates me. Here in Louisville they used to march the elephants several blocks down busy streets on the way to the arena for the circus. I cannot explain how upsetting it was to watch.

      Anyway, I feel you on the video thing. I love hearing stories on how people decided to go one way or another. I was stuck in traffic years ago next to a semi pulling a farm trailer packed full of pigs, and I knew exactly where they were heading. I was already toying with the idea of vegetarianism after getting two dogs, but seeing those faces in that trailer made the decision for me.

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  7. That's awesome! I thought I'd try to do the no red meat thing once. Until I had a hamburger on my plate and was like oh yeah....oops! I just like hamburgers too much. And bacon. Always bacon.

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  8. As a fellow midwesterner and also a vegetarian, I encountered the same sorts of responses from friends, family, and strangers. It also left me cringing at how I too spoke to and about vegetarians! Good for you guys for stepping out of your comfort zone and out of the norm for something you believe in, even if it just temporary.

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  9. Good for you :) I have been vegetarian for 2.5 years and am slowly going vegan, and it's not something I announce all the time but whenever someone finds out, they definitely have an opinion. I try to be the bigger person and not be an ass but sometimes I just want to be like, dude, you're eating animal carcasses and you want to judge me? But I don't want to be that vegan that makes everyone feel bad, that doesn't help anything. And hey, even if you're not changing the world but cutting red meat, you are changing your heart health, whether you realize it or not :)

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  10. Alright. Between the work from home crazies, the dog obsession, and cutting out read meat...we are officially #same. It's starting to freak me out. I cut out "anything with eyelashes" about five years ago after going to the Texas State Fair and visiting the livestock exhibit. They were just...too cute to eat. Now I have a dog who is black and white and looks like a tiny baby cow, so that sealed the deal. More power to ya!

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  11. Not eating red meat is quite healthy so we, too, choose to not eat it as often. (I like my maybe once-twice/mo. steak or burger, though.) If given the choice and I know it's good, I also get the turkey or chicken burger. Hope it's not so much a struggle in time for you both.

    And eat those Cubanos!! (In the movie Chef, they make a Cubano that looks OUT OF THIS WORLD and that I've been searching for for years..to no avail. So enjoy many of the original ones for me! And share pics so I start salivating, *sorry, gross.)

    1,000 YESES to the swimming-with-dolphins thing. UGH. (Also, I can't stand aquariums or zoos, or kids touching the stingrays that didn't ask to be touched.) /K, end of rant.

    HAPY NEW YEAR!!

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  12. We gave up pork (and beef for a while) and omg yes the defending and judgement. It's like I'm only telling you why I made this choice because you ASKED me. You don't need to get all worked up about what I am or am not eating. I feel for the vegans and GFs.

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  13. My husband and I have been eating less and less red meat. He's doing it for health reasons. I do it because I feel bad for the animals. We've replaced a lot of what we would have eaten with turkey or chicken now. I eventually want to give up all meat but I'm not really that strong-willed.

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  14. Okay totally wrong when ppl say "only two of you doesnt make a difference" i just literally dont have the energy to go through and do the math and calculations (but you can find it all on the internet) so yes people it actually does make a difference. Kudos to you chica!

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  15. Thank you for bringing this up. It's definitely something to think about and bring awareness to. Now that being said...CUBA!?!?! Details please!!!

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  16. I just bought the book "The subtle art of not giving a fuck" and it is is life changing! It takes situations like this and the responses you get and helps you not care? Which I have been horrible about, b/c I care too much about others' opinions. You do YOU and forget the other opinions!

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  17. So happy for you. I subscribe to this kind of flexitarian diet, with a goal of simply eating less meat. I always get questions about my protein intake specifically. Most people are simply so uneducated about diet and the environment so I try to take their comments in stride as much as possible. The more of us that make this change and continue to talk about it, even when we ant to bash our heads into the wall, the more actual real change will happen. Thanks for making the change and thanks for talking about it!

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  18. Good for you! I have been a vegetarian for 14 years and also grew up in the Midwest. I am all too familiar with these exact types of responses whenever someone finds out I don't eat meat. And sadly, they never seem to go away (even though we now live in Southern California) - but the good news is that you'll definitely learn to let it roll off your back (and how to better conceal your eyerolling at them). 😏

    Allie | www.lunavidablog.com

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  19. We gave up meat and most dairy over the summer because high cholesterol runs on both sides of our family. We both lost a considerable amount of weight, but I was more surprised by how much better I felt. I don't care if you or anyone else eats/doesn't eat meat. I know that I feel like a 20 year old instead of an almost 30 year old and that's enough to keep me away from it most of the time. Plus...the ethical side of it all does make me cringe. I'm with you there.

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  20. I always have to remind myself that people are afraid of what they do not understand. For some people, it's things like this. It's incredibly annoying being on the receiving end, but imagine how scary their lives are trying to understand you wanting to do something for YOU. Those poor, unsuspecting people! Ha! Also, I gave up red meat, then decided to start again for a while--and it made me incredibly ill. So if you do go back , make sure to ease into it. Because 4 burgers and 184 steaks in a row may seem like a good idea at the time.

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  21. I completely understand where you're coming from. Many years ago, I remember we were driving to Tennessee and passed a truck carrying a bunch of pigs that were clearly in a bad state. It was freezing, their hooves were likely frozen to the OPEN crate they were being driven in...it was a sad thing to look at.
    My husband looked at me and we both decided to stop eating meat. All of it. Both of us come from very midwestern, simple farm families, who looked at us like we both had two heads growing from our bodies. "Well what are you going to eat then?" They would always say. And a bunch of other comments from friends and co-workers..it never ended.
    And the thing was, we never pushed our beliefs or views on anyone. Whenever there was a bbq, we gladly brought our own food (likely salmon) and cooked it ourselves, never wanting to trouble anyone. These days we have lightened up our reigns on what we eat, but we never quite went 100% back to the "old days." Meat is more of a special meal, and you can bet we haven't purchased bacon more than 3 times in 11-ish years. Sure, it tastes amazing, but I love pigs! They are so cute and smart!!
    Anyways, to each their own. Do you boo. :)

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  22. I think it's great that you guys have cut something out of your diet that you really believe in (or don't believe in? whatever)! I'd like to stop eating factory farmed meat. We know local farmers, we have the means available to purchase our own well fed, free-range, happy-life pigs and cows. Someday I'd like to stop eating chicken and raise them for eggs. I definitely love animals more than 98% of humans but I also know that population control is a thing and our bodies sometimes require certain nutrients. That said, I want all animals to have a super life while they're alive! Not chained up or stuck in a tiny crate or smashed into a cold barn. All of that to say, go you!
    I don't eat lamb, veal, or lobster because of my love for animals. Slowly taking them off the menu, one cute fluffy thing at a time.

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  23. YAS to this. I've been a vegetarian for most of my life..but like a...quiet vegetarian, not a preachy MEAT IS MURDER one. Just a personal choice that I dig and now the thought of eating meat just kind of grosses me out b/c I haven't had it in foreverrrr. I live in Wisconsin and my husband eats meat and his coworkers are like BUT HOW DOES YOUR WIFE DO HER WIFELY DUTIES IF SHE CAN'T MAKE YOU MEAT CASSEROLES?! *eyeroll* I really like that you said you thought back to the conversations you've had with vegetarians / etc in the past- like now that you're a liiiittle on the other side you get how questions/inquiries come off! I feel like I have to defend being a vegetarian to people which is completely stupid. Mind yo' business people!

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  24. I was a strict vegetarian for years and got a lot of grief. I began eating meat again due to anemia. I eat more vegan/vegetarian meals than not. I do it for many reasons but really it just feel better. The best I have ever felt is when I went Vegan for a solid month. It is so hard and cheese is so good. I just like that fact that more people are becoming more educated about what they eat and where it comes from. Kudos to you...and OMG Cuba! We are going in April and I am freaking out about it!

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  25. I love this!!! My Dad was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer on 8 SEP 2016. He passed away on 8 OCT 2016. I have been an effing nervous, anxious filled person regarding the colon, bowels and cancer since 8 SEP. I went to my primary care physician and he sat me down and explained to me that...MEAT!!!!!! has been and continues to be directly linked to colon cancer in medical studies (not some "i hate the meat industry" propaganda studies). He asked me about my Dad's eating history and guess what? He ate a big ribeye once a week. He ate grilled meat whether it be ribs, chicken or pork three times a week. He was a huge meat eater. My doctor also recommended the book "The China Study" and I will tell you it has literally changed my view and it's based on scientific evidence. Highly, highly recommend if you or Chris are into reading these types of books. Anyways, that's long winded AF but I just am here to give you kudos and to say...GIVE ME ALL THE VEGGIES & f%&k the questions and negative feedback...do you, friend! ;)

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  26. I've been a pescatarian for 20 years now and I still get asked why I gave up meat. There are so many reasons not to eat meat (and other animal products but #cheese), but like you said, each to their own; I don't understand why more people don't respect that :) xx

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  27. I really don't understand why people get so offended by other peoples' personal stances. I have a similar story lately: I live in Virginia and grew up having sweet tea for dinner as well as at restaurants, family gatherings, etc. Over time I've moved away from sweets and sugary drinks, so when I do get an ice cold refreshing tea while out somewhere I am able to drink it unsweetened. (I have also spent time living in NY and CA where sweet tea isn't a thing, so maybe this has helped me move away from it.) When family members here hear me order an UNSWEET tea, they look at me like I've lost my mind. I mean, it's just tea guys...no need to be so offended. I don't think I'm better than you, or "less southern" (some people here honestly think others take uppity pride in being "less southern")...I just don't want the sugar. And you should hear them complain when they talk about visiting someplace not in the south, "They looked at me like I was crazy for asking for sweet tea! Can you even believe that? Why even sell unsweetened iced tea? It's gross."

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  28. I've unintentionally cut it out of my diet except every few weeks/months. For me it wasn't ethical but just learning the risks factors of heart disease, cancer, MIs, plaque buildup in nursing school. Red meat isn't great for you. Antiobitoics are in so many meats as well! We stick to chicken without antibiotics and fish (which I hate but tolerate). I feel better without it as well!

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  29. Thank you! I recently became "mostly vegetarian, but have meat once a month" and the opinions I get! Is so frustrating that some many other people need to share their opinion on this choice I've made.

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  30. I have always found it wild how some people have to defend themselves against, in reality, nothing. Especially if you are just minding your business about what you do and do not eat. I have cut back on eating meat just to see if I could and the number of people who have gotten super judgmental is insane. All I can think is sorry if I have offended you by making a decision that only affects me... ha ha!

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  31. I love me some meat and won't be giving it up anytime soon, especially since I'm at constant risk for being underweight. But I am concerned about the ethical treatment of livestock. It's a troublesome balance trying not to spend too much money at the grocery store while also trying to find meat that was raised ethically.

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  32. #latetotheparty but had to comment!
    I grew up on a dairy farm in WI so my husband and I enjoy ethically sourced beef all year round. However, we don't usually eat red meat when we are out to eat, or at others homes. My brother also raises chickens and they (& eggs) taste so different than mass-produced foods-SO much better.

    If you do decide to eat red meat (or any meat for that matter) again, consider researching locally sourced foods. Or even a CSA like Urban Canopy in Chicago.

    Food is such a big part of our lives, enjoy it however you want! Thanks for always being the real you! :)

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  33. OK, I am currently trying to plan a trip to Cuba, but I know that travel is still restricted. How did you plan it that you can go? I've read about a couple of different options, but I'm trying to get opinions from some real people too!

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