During January 2014, I will not be eating meat. More specifically, I will be a lacto-ovo-pescetarian, meaning I will still consume dairy, eggs, and fish. When I first indicated interest in this at the end of 2013, I received mixed reactions. Some strongly for, others neutral, and a surprising amount of people who were strongly against. I want to begin this discussion by explaining why I am doing this and will conclude with an explanation for the responses I received.
Why am I doing this?
I want to eat better. I do not consume an unhealthy amount of steak, chicken, and bacon. Rather, I resist experimenting with other foods because of the comfort meats provide me.
Many of us have seen the videos of turkeys being mistreated. Cows that never leave the factory, chickens and pigs so large that they can no longer walk. This hasn’t been enough of a deterrent for me to stop eating these animals. It’s not because I don’t care about the way these animals are treated, but rather I don’t have faith in the ‘organic’ and ‘grass-fed’ labels on these foods.
From vegetarians, all of the people I spoke to understand my reasoning and supported my choice. They stressed the importance of meal planning and getting all of the required vitamins and minerals. All understood my hesitation for a larger commitment.
From my friends who were upset with my choice, there were two common concerns: (1) my health, and (2) future indoctrination from vegetarians. For my health concerns, I shared my eating plans and the foods that would help to make up for the lost vitamins and minerals. For the second camp, I explained that I would not pressure others nor would I look down upon my meat-eating counterparts. While most of the vegetarians I know have never chastised me for my eating choices, there have been at least two in my life that have become upset with me or my friends when dining out or discussing vegetarianism. It is this vocal minority that gives a bad rap to vegetarians.
Will I continue this into February and beyond? I’m not sure. At the moment, I am liking its effect on my body. I am eating more fish, eggs, and fruit, the chief goals of this experiment. The occasional headaches remind me when I need to eat more protein and the other important amino acids that meats would normally provide me. As I do more research and adapt my diet to make up for these lost nutrients, it becomes easier to think about continuing this meatless streak. If anything, just to learn more about my own body.