In early November my partner had an interesting idea: why don’t we have a meat-free month in preparation for Christmas? This was his version of a spring detox and a great idea as reducing animal proteins and tending your diet more towards plant proteins, fruits and vegetables is one of the best ways to improve digestion, reduce inflammation and boost protective antioxidants (and maybe even lose weight!)
I was thrilled at the suggestion, thinking to myself that this would be a great break for him and not really that hard for me. I had it in mind that I only eat meat a few times a week anyway. So we set some rules: fish and seafood were allowed but all other meats excluded with the exception of one meat meal per week (a safety measure that I find handy in any restrictive diet to avoid binges that result in throwing the whole idea out).
No Meat November was a great opportunity to explore delicious vegetarian meals like this green pizza.
We got through it, or I should say, he got through it. I faltered at the last weekend, spent with family in country Queensland, where meat was very much on the menu. To be honest though, by that point I had realised that I do eat meat more than once or twice a week, and I like having that option. This is not a comment on the ethics of vegetarianism, I have huge respect for those who make the effort required to follow their own nutritional path, ensuring they still gain the nutrients usually provided by the foods they avoid. During my (largely) pescetarian month I felt real opposition to my diet plan from a variety of sources and was reminded how little choice there is on the average menu for those that choose not to eat meat.
What we both gained from this month was awareness. Eating can often be quite unconscious: I thought it would be a breeze to cut out meat to once a week but was surprised at the number of opportunities that arose throughout the weeks where I would have normally chosen meat. We tell ourselves certain things about the way we eat, but sometimes it can take a process that encourages greater awareness, like keeping a diet diary or reducing sugar, to bring the reality of our food choices into focus.
My goal is conscious eating, enjoying the choices I make and being aware of the impact of what I eat on my health and wellbeing. This requires self-awareness, honesty and a bit of education to make sure you are well equipped to give your body what it needs every day. In the lead up to Christmas, I will ask myself: have I eaten any vegetables today?