Monday, March 8, 2010

Making it without Meat

Here's the latest on our meatless challenge, with 19 days completed and 27 to go!

Update from Ed

Here's a little background info on why I gave up meat for Lent. I started to become more conscious of the food and drink I put into my body last year when I gave up soda. Around the same time, I also stopped eating fast food. While I'm still off soda, I did begin eating fast food again over the holidays late last year. I was also preparing steak and pork for dinner multiple times a week. In order to get more creative with my cooking and to save some money, I decided to rid myself of meat for 46 days.

After 18 days sans meat, I'm happy with my progress. While I still crave a giant cheeseburger from time to time, I'm not giving in. Experimenting with different foods has also been fun! Instead of getting that aforementioned burger at a restaurant, I tried a delicious shrimp quesadilla. Instead of putting sausage in my spaghetti, I tried grilled peppers and onions on top, and it tasted better. After trying Chipotle for the first time, I was inspired to make my own burrito. There was also a tasty lentil soup in there somewhere, but I can't take credit for making it (Editor's note: Jen can :).

Going forward, I hope to introduce more greens into my diet and prepare a more diverse menu for breakfast and lunch at work. Reading The China Study has even given me second thoughts about going back to meat. Some hilarious excerpts from Skinny Bitch have reinforced those doubts. Admittedly, I'm still eating more junk than I'd like. Meat is out, but french fries are still in. I have more work to do, but I'm pleased that kicking meat to the curb has been almost as easy as ditching soda.

Update from Jen

I started going meatless in moral support of Ed. He had been helping me improve my running and I felt I could help him out with his latest food challenge. I had been vegetarian a few years ago and knew I could do this challenge. While Ed has been embracing the pescetarian lifestyle, which includes dairy, eggs and fish, I am exploring la vida vegan.

I had never really been a big meat eater but had resorted to it as a protein source when I developed sensitivities to dairy and eggs. As an almost-vegan, I consumed mostly fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans and several servings of meat per week. I must say that going completely vegan has been a challenge when dining out or eating at work. But, overall, the change has been quite positive. And after reading several books on factory farming, the health risks of eating meat, and the benefits of a vegan diet, I plan on leaving meat out well beyond this 46 day challenge.

Like Ed, I've been experimenting with recipes and new foods and have been cooking daily. This has proven a little more cost-effective than regularly eating out, although Whole Foods is still expensive (but worth it). My only concern at this point is a lack of energy, which I think has more to do with a need to up my caloric intake. I haven't yet added enough food to compensate for all the running that I've been doing. Just need to eat more. That shouldn't be a problem :)

Update from Olivia

I went on a bit of an information binge this winter in response to a renewed sense of urgency to learn more about my food—and how my body reacts to it. I read Eating Animals, The China Study, and Revive: Stop Feeling Spent and Start Living Again. My man and I spent many nights watching documentaries like The Cove, Food, Inc., and Food Matters. I scoured the Internet and joined health forums. All of it led conclusively to one decision: I had to work on this vegan thing.

To give you an example of what a big deal that is for me, my second date with my partner was a bacon safari, during which we toured Philadelphia looking for tasty pork products. So, am I vegan? Nope. But I haven’t had land-dwelling meat since the first days of 2010. I’m not ready to end my love affair with sushi and shellfish, but I have reduced my fish intake drastically. Eggs never really did it for me, so that’s been an easy omission. And during my latest health cleanse, I realized (read: finally admitted to myself) that, like Jen, I have a pretty serious case of lactose intolerance. Headaches, digestive issues, the whole bit. All in all, I would say I eat a vegan diet at least half of the week, and when I do consume animal products, it’s in greatly reduced quantities: butter used to sauté mushrooms, a small slice of Brie, or a bit of crab pad thai.

As much as my heart, my body, and my brain want to be vegan, my taste buds haven’t fully caught up. And I’m ok with that. Because this transition is so important to me, I’m content to go slow. I want the changes to stick, so slow and steady it is.

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