Are you a vegetarian? Vegan? Carnivore? Omnivore? Raw Foodist? Macrobiotic?
As long as you’re eating real, whole food, I don’t have much of an opinion about whether or not you should eat meat. It’s really, truly, up to you. And I have more news: you don’t have to stick by your diet the way you do a religion. You can change! Every day if you want. It’s ok. What is your body telling you today?
Here’s my meat story.
I always ate meat of all kinds growing up. My mom made a great meatloaf, paprika-sprinkled chicken legs and thighs, and breaded pork chops. (For awhile in 3rd grade we were studying dinosaurs and I began to regard my mother’s steak dinners as “Stegosaurus” dinners, which ruined me on steak for a brief period. But that’s neither here nor there.)
Fast forward 10 years. In college I ate meat and lots of it. It kind of goes hand-in-hand with eating out, because when your food comes from restaurants you won’t find many vegetarian dishes. I ate a lot of chicken fingers, hamburgers, etc. You get it. I also ate a lot of Italian meats because my boyfriend at the time had a mother with a fridge full of gobbagool. God did my stomach hurt.
It was post-college that I started getting dizzy spells and feeling extremely exhausted. I don’t blame meat, but my diet certainly left something to be desired. Living alone, I sometimes cooked up my mom’s meatloaf recipe and ate it for a week as leftovers, and sometimes dinner was a pear and a piece of gorgonzola cheese.
I started doing yoga, finally. Why did I wait so long?? My yoga teacher talked about his raw vegan diet and the Italian grandmother in me thought, “No wonder he’s so skinny.”
But I started reading and thinking about my diet. Jessica Porter’s The Hip Chick’s Guide to Macrobiotics got me onto whole grains and off dairy. Then John Robbins’ The Food Revolution got me off meat with its account of factory farm conditions. The China Study nudged me even further from animal product. It was simple. I did not want to contribute to my own poor health, I didn’t want to support this crazy meat factory industry, and heck – brown rice is a lot cheaper than steak!
That lasted for awhile and my health greatly improved. But here’s the thing. I don’t think it was because I stopped eating animal products – it was because I started eating real, whole, organic food.! Had I substituted my hamburgers with Boca Burgers and my ice cream with Soy Delicious, I don’t think I’d have had the recovery I did. Instead it was whole grains, dark leafy green vegetables, sweet root veggies and the like that brought me back to life, quite literally.
After learning about Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions I started reincorporating some meat into my diet. Sometimes it was with great intention – a small piece of grass fed beef purchased from a local farmer. Sometimes it was completely random, like bacon wrapped scallops hors d’oeuvres at an office party. Because they are SO good.
Basically, the pendulum swung back to center. It felt good to be able to enjoy food with my friends and not order the special vegetarian meal all the time. It felt good to enjoy meat again. And, well, I felt good. So here I am. I eat a little meat. And I try to make it the best quality, grass-fed or pastured stuff I can afford. That’s where I’m at.
Where are you?
For the omnivores out there, especially those who have found a grass-fed beef source, I encourage you to try this Beef Burgundy recipe. It’s so perfect for this time of year. If you haven’t had red meat in awhile, you’ll be shocked by how good grass-fed beef tastes. It’s better for you, better for the animals, better for the environment, and better for your local economy. So if you’re gonna do beef, do it right! It’s worth it. And if you don’t want to do beef, don’t. I have plenty of vegetarian recipes too. Every body is different!
Recipe from The Nourished Kitchen
I used whole wheat flour instead of sprouted grain flour, and I doubled this recipe in a gigantic pot. It was great. Thanks Jenny!
This post is part of Real Food Wednesdays hosted by Cheeseslave.