Anyway, here's my scoop on skipping the beef.
I don't eat meat because I feel better without it. When I eat it, my stomach doesn't feel great. I feel sluggish or I feel like there's a big brick in my belly. It's not excruciating, it's not terrible but, overall, I feel healthier and better without it. I don't miss it. And if I do want it, I'll eat it.
So to answer the many questions I get:
When do you eat meat?
If if crave it, I'll eat it. However, I rarely want it anymore. I actually prefer dishes without it. An array of veggies adds so much color and flavor to a dish. It's insane. My mouth is like, "hot diggity dog. That's good" when it's bombarded by a bunch of crazy veggies.
If someone cooks it for me, I'll eat it. I don't want my choice to not eat meat to be a hurdle for other people. When I first stopped eating it, I expected everyone else to cater to this little fact. It was totally unfair and caused some unnecessary stress for my loved ones to have me over to dinner. Now, I let people know not to worry about it and that I'll thoroughly enjoy eating whatever they make me. I may choose smaller portions of the meat or skip over it if there are lots of other options. Or I may pile it high. Just depends.
We however haven't purchased meat (aside from fish. We eat that) to cook with for ourselves in I have no idea how long.... At least a year. (We hosted christmas this year, so I did buy a hunk of meat for our guests..they would have died without it. I didn't want their blood on my hands at Christmas).
How do you get your protein?
Easy. We eat a wide variety of vegetables, beans, fruits, legumes. I try to cook with different items every week to make sure we are getting a plethora of vitamins. I shop at the farmers market for produce so we primarily only eat what's in season. To make up for anything lacking, I mix in tons of different beans, legumes, grains, etc. we eat a lot of couscous, lentils, beans, quinoa, nuts, barley, etc. I try to avoid using ingredients with empty/low nutritional value often. Oh and I love eggs so we eat a lot of those too.
What do you eat?
We eat tons of stuff. There is so much more to a culinary experience than a cut of meat, some mashed potatoes and a few green beans. We've challenged ourselves to buy and cook with new ingredients weekly. If I don't know what something is, I buy it and figure out how to cook with it. I'm an experimenter, so I don't typically use recipes. I like to play with my food. Wholeliving.com detoxs (2012 and 2013) have some of my favorite recipes and was the foundation for our new way of eating. We learned how to mix all sorts of random but common things together and how to cook using whole ingredients.
Do you use meat substitutes?
Not really. I find that vegetables provide much for flavor to a dish. I usually throw in additional veggies if it calls for a meat. I've learned to make most meat heavy dishes without any type of substitute. For example: burgers are now bean burgers; sub eggplant and spinach in lasagna; tons of veggies in shepherds pie; sweet potatoes and beans for chili. I've learned that cooking without meat or meat substitutes opens up a whole new cooking world with lots of different options. I love it. I prefer it. But like I said, it's not for everyone. Plus meat substitutes equal super processed. I would probably prefer a cut of meat from a local farmer than a fake chicken breast.
We stopped eating a meat heavy diet two years ago this month and it was a great decision for us. Our eating is naturally healthy now and we've learned so much. Cooking is kind of an art for us now. Our interest in growing veggies also cultivated our love for them. From understanding the importance of 'growing' dirt, not plants, to watching and tasting fresh grown produce, we've left the meat-heavy world and joined a new club where Swiss chard is as normal as a hotdog.
If you haven't guessed it yet, food is our jam. But as always, moderation is key and there is no perfect way to eating. Your body does all the talking. Listen to it.
Ever tried vegetarian? Vegan? How did it work out for you? What were some of your biggest hurdles? Got questions for a non-meat eater? Ask away. I wear my freak flag proudly :). Just kidding, I ain't no freak (well...ok maybe)!