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Eating in the image of the beast

I have started this post so many times, so many ways … I’m just going to come out and say it.

It’s been a month since I’ve had more than a bite of meat. I’m not ready to say I’m a vegetarian because I reserve the right to change my mind. But I don’t think that’s going to happen because to my utter surprise I love the way I feel after not eating meat for a month. So much so that I’m not sure I ever want to go back to it.

Don’t worry I’m not going to go all born-again-vegetarian on you. I won’t be all judgey-judgey to you carnivores, you know me better than that, but I will share what this experience has been like for me.

First of all, I wish I could tell you the inspiration behind this lifestyle change (because it is much more than dietary) came from reading something beautiful and smart-sounding like Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle or Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma (both of which are on my read someday list). But no.

Instead, the book I have to admit changed me was the shallow-sounding yet shockingly smart and sassy little book called “Skinny Bitch.” Yes, Skinny Bitch. Two words I rarely use much less identify with. But there you have it.

The craziest part was that my meat-loving husband also read it at my request to get past the title and just skim it so we could talk about it. He blew through the whole thing before I did and came to the same conclusion as me: we’re done with meat. The book actually heavily promotes a vegan lifestyle but we are not done with eggs, honey and cheese. However, we are using less of the above in our cooking and getting healthier versions (organic, soy, locally grown, etc). than we were in the past.

Here’s the super crazy part: it’s been relatively easy to make this change. With the amount of fake meat products that don’t taste like shredded pulp, and even available at my favorite Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, combined with the plethora of cookbooks, websites and blogs dedicated to this kind of cooking it hasn’t been as big a deal as I thought it would be.

In fact, it’s been better. Here is a classic Matt compliment that sums up what I’m trying to say:

“Wow, babe, great dinner. Another one! I’m starting to think it was just the meat holding you back.”

Maybe so.

Why? Why? Why?

That seems to be the most FAQ question lately but the answer is longer than I can get into in this post. I promise to revisit it but for now will leave you with this one thing. I’ll just say it, I’m no animal-lover. I’m just not. Which doesn’t make me a hater, but I haven’t been an animal rights activist in the past. Some people don’t particularly adore kids. That doesn’t make them bad, just not someone you’re going to ask to babysit yours. I’m like that with animals.

So as the book was going into the details about how animals are treated in common slaughtering and butchering practices, I cringed but wasn’t ready to throw in the blood-soaked towel. Until I got to the reminder about “you are what you eat.”

You either believe that’s true or you don’t. I do.

So when the authors wrote that when you consume most of the meat commercially available (I’m paraphrasing) you are literally eating fear and anxiety.

As a person consciously working toward reducing my anxiety levels this hit home.

Guess what?

The other day I was in the middle of a particularly stressful time of day for me, the part where your kids are hanging on you and the fridge door as you try to figure out how Cinderella's godmother turned a pumpkin into a coach so you can use those powers to turn random leftovers into dinner?

I felt this strange feeling in the midst of the chaos and didn’t quite recognize it. With a start I realized it was a sense of inner calm.

That felt better than any meat I’ve ever tasted.