Going without meat doesn’t have to mean you’re officially labeling yourself a vegan, vegetarian, or committing to never eating a strip of bacon again. Frankly, with regards to your diet—as with most things in life—moderation is paramount. The more health conscious I become, the more I disagree with the concept of “choosing sides.”
The truth is always somewhere in the middle ground, and I think more people would lead healthier lives if they tried the following:
Don’t be a vegan (unless your mind, body, and soul unanimously think you should be), be a lover of fruits and vegetables.
Don’t be a carnivore, be a connoisseur of the best quality meats; meaning organic, humanely handled and pasture-raised animals.
Another key is to become flexible not rigid with regards to your eating habits and refrain from oversized portions, you only need 4-6 oz of any animal protein.
You know yourself better than anyone, so consult your body before you eat, and ask it one vital question—what am I craving and will it make me feel awesome after eating it?! WE NEED TO FIX OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD. Food is your fuel, the nourishment that will keep your body doing what it does best, healing itself. Things can go south rather quickly when you forget your body as a result of your food choices.
Labeling may not be the best strategy in creating successful eating habits, but if you don’t give yourself a standard or set of ruling principles you’ll likely end up eating what’s fast and convenient. My approach is to make small commitments to eat a certain way based on what my body tells me about the status quo.
First signs that you may need to test out being more herbivorous is when the idea of eating meat starts to feel heavy or exhausting. OR you are have already taken note of those feelings after your meals. In my case, I start to think negative thoughts, and about how bloated I’ll feel, or how I might get the meat sweats...yes, I have literally started sweating while eating meat. Bizarre, I know. Every person is different, your alert may come more subtly or as in my case, profusely. Please heed the warning.
I find that cleansing my body of meat for at least 30 days helps me find balance and vitality. It also helps me to be creative with what I consider a beautiful and satisfying meal. Again, a little bodily-introspect is required, but you can easily feel it in your gut (pun intended) when it’s time to do another cleanse. Also, realize that you are challenging yourself to live more balanced and it will surely carry on passed the point of your personal meatless cleanse.
What you should know prior to beginning any type of food cleanse is simple in theory, but a pill to swallow: you are perfect exactly how you are. I want you to make healthier food choices because you want to take care of your body, not to punish yourself in protest of whichever “flaw” stands out in the mirror. You need to love your body. As is. NO EXCEPTIONS. Choosing better for yourself becomes automatic when you love yourself deeply and unapologetically. From this love you will root all your good decisions and truly discover a nurturing relationship with food. We all have self perceived imperfections which come from internal and external sources, but we need to accept ourselves as we are. Adore the person in the mirror and let any transformation come from a place of love, not hatred. This is all I ask of you.
Here are the reasons I think you should test out a meatless month:
You’ll be giving your digestive system a rest from the toil of breaking down dense fats and proteins. Meat takes it’s sweet time to digest (up to 72 hours), and intuitively it should urk you to know that you are allowing a piece of decaying flesh to dwell inside you at a cozy temperature of 98.6˚F—you can imagine these are ripe conditions for a sluggish digestive process.
By pledging a meatless month, it’s a temporary departure from your norm(which is a great way to shake up stale routines), and in the mean time you’ll be forming better habits to eat more fruits and vegetables on the regular. Eating a clean, plant based diet is the right thing to do for your health. Period. There are too many facts to support that piece of advice, so stop making excuses and take a step toward living more balanced!
Eating less meat can actually improve your mood!!! Ever notice when you eat something clean and full of veggies you get a little rush of happiness? Well, that feeling is your body rewarding you for choosing wisely. Feeling good about what you eat and the effect it will have on your body is uplifting, it’s an ego boost to know what you ate isn’t going straight to your thighs (or in my case, my triceps).
Cardiac health is greatly improved by balanced eating habits, especially those loaded with grains, fruits and vegetables. Cholesterol and blood pressure are almost single handedly affected by diet, so let food be thy medicine by giving your temple what it’s really craving—moderation.
I dedicated April as my meatless month, but I’m already thinking it could carry over into May. I’ll keep you posted! Remember to love yourself first, everything else is secondary.