I’ve been a carnivore, and an enthusiastic one at that, since before I knew how to tie my shoes. To be fair, I didn’t learn the proper way to tie shoes until I was in middle school; until then I used an awkwardly contrived method of shoelace entanglement that would eventually resemble a bow after a decent bit of fussing with. At any rate, meat has been the savory object of my desires for quite some time.
Proof of an obsession:
- I ate my first whole rack of ribs on my sixth birthday, and I’ve never had a birthday as revelatory as that one.
- I work part time at a fantastic Nashville-based burger concept, and when a burger is made incorrectly no force this side of Zeus and the Titans themselves can stop me from claiming it for myself
- Despite its obvious shortcomings (weather, crime, etc.), Memphis is one of my favorite cities because of the barbecue alone. As I write this I am drinking water from a cup I got during my last visit to the Germantown Commissary. “So good, you’ll slap your mama.”
Why Go One Week Without Meat?
I am aware of the many good ethical arguments for why we shouldn’t eat meat at all, and I’m grappling with them myself at the moment. But, because I’m in no position to push a particular ideology on anyone kind enough to read OWW, I’m going to instead focus on the realities I have personal experience with:
1. Meat makes me feel tired and lethargic
I always think of the sketch on Chappelle’s Show where they offer ribs as a prescription sleep aid, but it’s true. If I have a burger or barbecue for lunch, I’m guaranteed to spend the next hour at least staring cross-eyed at my computer screen without actually doing anything.
On the contrary, when I have a black bean burger or vegetarian chili for lunch I feel full, but my stomach doesn’t feel heavy and I can get on with my day actually feeling like a normal, healthy adult.
2. Meat really isn’t very good for you
Look, I don’t want to inflame any fellow meat lovers, nor can I claim myself as anything resembling an authority on the matter, but I’ve seen plenty of studies claiming the ill-effects of red meats and praising the restorative value of fruits and vegetables. On Tuesday, The Guardian posted a study showing that those who consume animal protein as a significant portion of their diet may be 4 times more likely to die of cancer than those who do not. Regardless of where you stand on this, it’s a bit disconcerting.
3. Meat is expensive
I’ve been tracking my grocery bills for the past three weeks and found that meat makes up about half of the total money I spend (much of the other half is coffee). On the other hand, fresh produce and canned vegetables cost next to nothing and can be put to even more delicious uses in the hands of a decent cook.
4. I don’t eat enough vegetables
I don’t think that meat is the root of all evil (at least not the way that Morrissey does), but I can say for sure that I don’t eat enough vegetables. I think that part of this is because I just don’t know what to do with them. Well, I’m going to learn.
So, I’m going to give up all meat—beef, chicken, pork, fish, etc.—for one week starting now, though I will continue to eat eggs and some dairy. In the meantime, I’m going to learn, share, and maybe even improve upon some tasty vegetarian recipes, and will report back on how the meatless life affects my mood, wallet, health, weight, and anything else that comes up in the process.