I am the child of lovable omnivores. In fact, my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles…you get the idea, were all pretty omnivorous by nature. Most of our meals were centered around a meaty main dish, with plenty of vegetables and grains as side dishes. We all loved veggies, it’s just that none of us had really thought of them as a main dish of their own.
Fast forward years later – I had a place of my own, yet my family and I were still eating the “old-fashioned” way, with meat as the center of our dinners. That is until recently when we decided to give meat-free living a shot, it was quite a transition for me. Looking back, though, I’m glad I did it. Over the course of one month I lost 18 pounds, gained a ton of energy, and managed to help out the environment. Not bad for something that also saved me money on groceries!
I have to admit, the first few days were the toughest – I craved a burger like never before, and found myself mesmerized as I caught a whiff of the nearby diner on my way to work. I needed flavor and texture, not just a lump of soy on a wheat bun.
So I started searching high and low for recipes that would satisfy my cravings and keep me on track towards my goal. I wound up finding (and loving) recipes for TVP stroganoff, seitan sandwiches, baked curry tofu, soy sausage pizza with goat cheese, and a host of other foods that saved me from the soy-burger rut.
Imagine my surprise, then, when after eating like a queen all week, I had lost nearly 5 pounds! By the end of the month, I had lost a total of 18 pounds. I had not intended to lose weight, it just sort of happened. I wasn’t exercising any more than usual, hadn’t changed my mealtimes, and I was eating a lot more in one sitting, it was simply the types of food that had helped me shed that excess weight.
I was also surprised at the boost of energy that I had by the end of week one. I was waking up well rested, needed a lot less sleep, and had an undercurrent of energy that lasted throughout the day and well into the night hours. I felt “lighter,” for lack of a better word, and by the end of my month long experiment, I was trying new activities that I had previously been too lazy to tackle. Even my brain fog had lifted, and I felt as though I had a renewed cerebral energy that kept me sharp and focused.
I also had a reason to feel good on a different level – I have been trying to get more involved in environmental issues and this was an easy, and fantastic, way to be a little more gentle to the earth.
According to the eartheasy.com figures, cutting out the meaty meals every other day of the week would save 487 pounds of CO2 over the course of a year. So, scaling it down to just a month of meatless meals, I could keep 76 pounds of CO2 out of the environment. Not bad for something that tasted so good!
I was also thrilled to notice the reduction in our grocery bill. We bought blocks of tofu; soy-based, prepackaged food; the simple ingredients for homemade seitan; vegetables; and the usual household, pet, and pantry staples, our total grocery bill came to $47.31. Pretty good considering our household of 2 (and an organically-fed, picky pooch!) had everything we needed for the entire week!
I had always thought that healthy food was expensive food – not true! We had a variety of tasty proteins, plenty of vitamins and minerals, and most of our food was organically and locally grown. Yet our bill was still half of what it had been at the chain superstore we had been shopping at for years. Lesson learned!
True, we do ocassionally slip back into omnivore mode, especially when attending social functions with meat-eating family members. But, for the most part, we are a meatless indulging household about 90% of the month. With the health, well-being, and financial factors like the ones I experienced, I can’t imagine not being meatless the majority of the month!