It started out as a regular lunch play date with my friend and our kids… who knew it was going to be one of the last turkey sandwiches I was going to eat for a while, if ever again? My friend Lacy had this amazing looking wrap which was just filled with fresh veggies. She started telling me that she stopped eating meat; I didn’t think the conversation would get much farther than that.
But looking at her wrap, and hearing about the meals she had been making, I started to think maybe I could do it too. Then she told me about a book she has been reading called My Beef With Meat, which I later read about halfway through (since my two year old has been born I haven’t read in years).
I decided to give it a try. Starting that day, I decided I was going to go 30 days without meat. I would eat dairy and fish, but try to stick with veggie-based meals. So as quickly as I ate my last turkey sandwich, I was on Pinterest looking for some recipe and so began my journey as a vegetarian…
Days 1 – 4 were great. I made lots of veggie wraps for lunch and fish or Portobello mushroom burgers for dinner. My husband decided he was going to try it with me, which was a shock since he is Irish – meat and potatoes are his life! But he was willing to see how not eating meat would make him feel. Plus, since I do all the cooking in our house, he didn’t have that much of a choice.
I had a hard time on Day 5, and I have an even harder time telling you all what happened on Day 5. Let’s just say that after almost seven years of marriage, my husband still doesn’t think I do this. I thought I ate healthy before – lots of veggies in my diet, but my body clearly went into shock. What I learned is that you need to drink lots of water – more than usual because you are getting so much fiber. It did not help that I drank some wine that weekend which dehydrates you. I was cramping so bad, and I can’t believe I am saying this but I was in the bathroom most of the day. AHHHH!
The second week went better. I drank lots of water, added eggs into my veggie wraps for extra protein. Everything was going great. Then came the first Philadelphia Eagles home game. For me, tailgate has always meant my dad’s chicken wings, Philly cheese steaks, hot roast beef sandwiches, and burgers. Now all of the sudden I was going to be bringing avocados and veggie burgers to tailgate?!! Well I did. I tailgate with all guys – cousins, brother, dad and uncles – and I’ve always assumed that guys will eat basically anything. Wrong. My veggie burgers were all mine that day. I didn’t have to share.
Day 11- My husband quit. He gave it a good run, but he just wasn’t getting enough protein in his diet and was feeling really tired and just not himself. I was starting to agree with him. I also was thinking I could lose some weight doing this, but I felt like we were eating a lot more carbs. For example, I usually won’t eat a burger with a bun, but with the veggie burgers I did. Or I would just eat chicken with veggies, no rice or pasta. Now, for quick meals it was pasta with veggies or rice bowls with veggies.
I kept going for 30 days. I did cheat around Day 20 at another tailgate and had some chicken wings – I’m telling you my dad makes the best wings!
Anyway, all of this had me thinking about how I remember athletes coming out and saying they don’t eat meat. I could hardly chase after my two-year-old or do a class at the gym.
NBA star Carmelo Anthony is known to try the “Daniel Fast” during past seasons and won’t eat meat or carbs. His diet was all fruits and veggies. After a slow start in some big basketball games, Carmelo opened up about his fast, saying, “It’s a long story, man. I haven’t had a good meal in about two and a half weeks. No meats, no carbs, anything like that. So I don’t know how I was out there competing at high level. It’s been some games this past week where your body just feels depleted out there and you’re trying to find a way to get some energy.”
“But I surrender, I’m done. I’m going to get some food right now,” he added.
I feel like that’s how my husband and I felt without meat. We both felt back to normal after slowly adding meat back to our diet.
But on the flip side, there are many famous athletes who are vegan. NFL’s great quarterback Joe Namath is probably the most known vegan athlete. Former NFL tight end Tony Gonzalez gave up meat for many years and even though he now eats chicken and fish he played many great games fueled by a vegan diet. Also, NBA’s Robert’s Parish and MLB’s Prince Fielder practice a vegan lifestyle.
The moral of the story is that it can be done. For me, I have learned to cut back with eating meat. I will not eat any deli meat. I will try to choose the veggie, or fish option. But when this girl is at a football tailgate she is going to be eating some wings!!
Have you ever tried giving up meat? Have any vegan recipes to share?