It has been a little over a year not eating red meat or pork. My entire life, I grew up on eating and loving to eat these meat products. Some of my favorite foods included Italian combos, steak drizzled with gorgonzola and rueben sandwiches. Anytime I ate red meat, I always felt tired and as if some brick was just sitting in my stomach. Red meat never settled well for me. After conducting some research on how industrial cows were treated, and the impact of raising and then eating it has on the environment, I decided to give up red meat permanently. As for pork products, I didn’t physically feel different but came across how pigs are treated and decided to give that up as well. I could have just ate organic, but I wanted the challenge myself to see how difficult it would be to avoid cow and pig.
This change in my eating habits has caused me to be healthier; as I am eating more fruit, vegetables and whole grains. I feel healthier than ever. After 7 months of not eating any red meat/pork, I had gone to the doctor. My blood pressure decreased to a very healthy number. My doctor attributed my lowered blood pressure to giving up the meat products. The vitamin and mineral levels in my blood were also perfect. Red meat contains iron, zinc, protein, potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, selenium and b vitamins. By eating more whole grains and vegetables, I was still absorbing most of these vitamins. However, I need to be regularly cautious and take supplements to maintain normal vitamin levels. Everyday, I take supplements: B vitamins, iron and selenium.
I am not a full fledged vegetarian; I eat chicken and fish. I opt for 100% organic chicken and eggs and choose wild fish as often as I can. I have cut-back my intake of chicken over the past several months but growing up a meat eater, I am still adjusting to the non-meat lifestyle. It is a step by step process for me. Over time, it does get easier as your taste preferences expand and you consistently remind yourself of the reasons you decided to give up meat to begin with. I would recommend decreasing your red meat and pork intake from week to week. I gave up pork abruptly but needed to slowly phase red meat out of my life.
At this time in my life, I do not miss these meat products and don’t plan on eating them for the rest of my life. I know what it is like to have a cheeseburger and the taste satisfaction that comes from that. At the same time, I don’t miss the additives, chemicals, preservatives that come with the processed meat. I don’t mind giving up a food that contributes to severe health problems, such as various cancers, heart disease, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, among others. Nor do I miss the guilt that comes when looking at a cow or cute pig. I don’t need this meat in my life anymore. I am discovering new foods and healthier meal options. I am happy with my omnivorous life right now.
‘The beef industry has contributed to more American deaths than all the wars of this century, all natural disasters and all automobile accidents combined. If beef is your idea of ‘real food for real people’ you’d better live real close to a real good hospital.’ (Neal D Barnard, MD, President, Physicians’ Committee for Responsible Medicine.)