What I Learned From One Week Without Meat

“It is my view that the vegetarian manner of living, by its purely physical effect on the human temperament, would most beneficially influence the lot of mankind.” – Albert Einstein

As I expect will be the case with many of these Week Without Challenges, the lessons I learned during my week without meat were not limited to the specific challenge at hand.

When I first started One Week Without, I received a tweet that read “The door you closed may open a thousand.”  If there’s been one lesson that has stuck with me through this process, this has been it.

Simply cutting out something as minute in my life as meat (at least that’s how it feels in retrospect), for just one week has revealed how many new, exciting, and delicious experiences that are out there for the taking (and tasting).  Yet, I miss out on so much adventure and opportunity in life, blinded by the comfortable habits I’ve developed.

Rules to Live (Better) By #’s 4-6

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4. Focus on adding variety to your diet (and life)

Before my week without meat I had fallen into a pretty standard diet: coffee and eggs for breakfast, large-batch chili for lunch, and some sort of chicken for dinner.  Experimenting with different dishes in this past week has forced me to try new things, and I found some new things that I liked: mushrooms, spinach and oats, to name a small few.  Furthermore, eating a variety of foods is the best way to ensure a healthy diet, at least according to the United States government.

5. Only eat meat when it’s worth it

Through my week without meat there were certainly some items that I sorely missed, but they were almost entirely extravagances such as ribs, barbecue, burgers, and steaks, certainly not things I eat every day.  In contrast, I didn’t miss the more everyday items such as lunchmeat or chicken, basically anything I would usually buy at the grocery store.  These meats were easily replaced by vegetarian options, and for the better, both in terms of taste and nutritional value.

As a result, I’ve decided to limit my meat intake to special occasions, such as going out to a great restaurant, and keep my every day diet limited to vegetarian options.  This not only makes me feel better and lighter every day, it’s also better for my health in the long run.

6. Be conscious of what you consume

In 2011 Mark Zuckerberg said in an interview with CNN Money, “The only meat I eat is from animals I’ve killed myself.”  I was a bit surprised to learn this, as I’d somehow missed the story when it came over the news cycle.  As it turns out the Facebook CEO began a challenge to only eat animals which he has killed, presumably with his own bare hands as part of some sort of bestial gauntlet.

Now, I’m not much for killing and lack the proper gall to go down this road myself, but I do think it is important to appreciate the process; the time, labor, and death, by which our food reaches our table.  As Julia Child said, “Anyone who is a carnivore needs to understand that meat does not originally come in these neat little packages.”

What one does with this knowledge I think ultimately falls on the hands of each individual, but personally, I’m leaving this challenge choosing not full-scale elimination, but comprehension and moderation, as in all things.

This week has energized and encouraged me that the one week without process can really lead to significant growth, even in a short period of time.  I can’t want to see how my life changes in the coming months and years, and am envious of the lessons I’ll have learned by then.  That said, I am itching to tackle some of the more significant vices I have, and now that we’re a bit further into this, I think it’s time to get a move on.

Title Photo Credit: flickr