Home Healthy Eating Successfully Converting Away From Eating Red Meat

Successfully Converting Away From Eating Red Meat

by Erika Nicole Kendall

Back in high school, my Mother was like the Iron Chef of the South… migrated way up north to the mid-west. She was always cooking. Baked ribs, fried pork chops and applesauce, fried chicken, steaks, roast beef, corned beef, cornish hen, polish boys.. It was seriously meat overload.

As a junior in high school, out of nowhere, I just opted to stop. I couldn’t take it any more. I decided to become a vegetarian. Of course, my Mom wasn’t havin’ that, so she [spitefully] went into meat overload. Everything had meat in it. It seriously was the pork-flavored broccoli episode all over again. If left up to my mother, I wouldn’t be eating squat.

I had to come up with a plan. Something that would allow me to move toward eating healthier, and becoming more able to control my eating habits. I needed an answer. For crying out loud, she was putting bacon grease in the corn! I needed SOMETHING! (My Mom is a gangsta. My impending vegetarianism was like a new gang moving in on her turf. After too long, I started to expect a horse head in the bed.)

So, here’s what I did.

I chose one day out of the week where I chose to not eat meat. This gave me the chance to prepare for that one week …every week. I’d know this day was coming. I could mentally prepare for it. If I knew my mother was cooking that day, I’d try to find a healthier alternative that couldn’t interfere with her throw-down session.

From one day a week, I went to two days a week. Tuesday and Thursday (the days Mom was least likely to cook), I’d skip meat. I went from Tuesday and Thursday, to Saturday and Sunday. I skipped meat on the weekends. This taught me how to get used to consecutive days without eating meat.

From two days, I went to 3 – Monday, Wednesday, Friday. No meat.

From there? I went straight to only eating meat on the weekends. I was used to consecutive days without meat, and was now used to regular week days without meat. It was getting easier, and I became more used to simply not indulging in Mom’s good stuff. She also started to respect my eating habits more, and began setting aside little bits of dishes for me before she added the meat. It started to feel more natural.

After a while, meat was no longer a major issue for me. Only allowing myself to enjoy it on the weekends gave me the reason I needed to really just forget about it altogether. Meat became a treat – something to enjoy only when I dined at a restaurant. Eventually college arrived, and since everyone hits broke-college-kid status, I stopped dining out.

As I’ve said before, I’m a full-time believer in natural progression. I don’t think that lifestyle changes – the kind that produce healthy results and are long-lasting – can happen overnight. Specifically, when you’re talking about things that will affect habits that you’ve had your entire life, you can’t possibly expect to change that overnight. Just don’t do it to yourself.

Vegetarianism, much like any other dietary restriction, requires patience. Be patient with yourself when enacting a new plan. You deserve that much.

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35 comments

kisten January 17, 2010 - 10:36 PM

Um vegetarianism…not happening! lol, but i agree that small steps are what really lead to the types of lifestyle changes that have the best impact.

For me that has been eating salads 3x a week-luckily that has actually been working well and i will hopefully increase that number in the future.

Kristen

Vanessa F. February 16, 2010 - 9:15 PM

I am going vegetarian during the Lenten season. This site has been a great source for learning more about the process.

With that said, I hope no one has to talk me down off a ledge when remember I can’t have lamb chops or chicken parm.

Rita May 14, 2010 - 5:41 AM

haha, funny cause I’d been doing this lately and was curious if this was successful. Good to know I just have to keep at it. I’ve officially gotten rid of all of the meat in my house so now it’s a matter of reserving meat for my days when I eat out with friends which technically is during weekends.

Thanks Erika!

Kamika September 27, 2010 - 10:06 PM

LOL! My mom did the exact same thing back when I had stopped eating red meat just after high school. I stopped for 12 years and she HATED it! You would have thought I told her she couldn’t eat it. But nevertheless, after 12 years I regressed and instantly started gaining weight. I find it so hard now to get me resolve back. I’ve tried, but a good steak is like cryptonite.

CoCo January 22, 2011 - 12:24 AM

“(My Mom is a gangsta. My impending vegetarianism was like a new gang moving in on her turf. After too long, I started to expect a horse head in the bed.)”

LOL!! You are a mess!

Michelle February 6, 2011 - 2:34 PM

Too FUNNY! but seriously, nothing against veggies and grains but I love meat, and not that i couldn’t part with it if i wanted, but I love it. I have however cut out a ton f red meat, and I lean more towards shrimp, organic chicken, and I’ve even cut out PORK! * gasp*

Erika February 6, 2011 - 5:06 PM

What?! So can #teamANTIbacon claim another?

Tira July 30, 2011 - 7:33 PM

I am with you 100%. I love meat and will never completely eliminate it from my diet #teamIlovemeat.

About 12 years ago, I removed meat from my diet 2 or 3 times a week. I noticed I was less lethargic and my energy increased. I have been thinking of returning to this way of eating as I saw the health benefits and it wasn’t too hard to incorporate into my lifestyle.

Mel May 10, 2011 - 2:07 PM

How do you supplement your strength training with protein with a decreased consumption of meat? I tried to go vegetarian once and my strength gains deteriorated rapidly.

Lilangel May 22, 2011 - 10:29 AM

Hi everyone!

I went vegan (no red meat, poultry, fish, dairy, eggs, or honey) three years ago and I love it! I started off going vegetarian four years ago because I desperately wanted to improve my health. I could never seem to get enough sleep and still felt tired all the time, I had NO energy, and got constant headaches on a regular basis and bad cramps come that time of the month. I was literally taking pain pills three times a week. It was terrible! My family, (like most black families) has a history of heart attacks and strokes and I also did not want to suffer that same fate.

So I went vegetarian and thought I was doing great! Until my friends told me all I was eating was carbs…hmmm… I did what a lot of people do—jump right into a new diet and didn’t bother to talk to anyone or read anything on the matter at all. So I stated talking to my vegetarian friends about their vegetarianism. I found a new love and passion for the environment, animals, and my health as well as an entirely new way of cooking and looking at food. I also read the book ‘Skinny Bitch’ which talks about health as well as wonderful things to eat! I began looking up websites, magazines, and other books on vegetarianism. Protein, iron and calcium from leafy greens, lentils, nuts, and legumes? Check! PLEASE BELIEVE I was eating healthier and stuffing my face —- no hunger here! AND I did not become a sickly-looking stick. My curves to this day are DANGEROUS! Wanting meat really became a non-issue.

After a year of being vegetarian, I decided to take the plunge and become vegan and never looked back! I feel better than I ever have in my life! I can wake up at 6AM with no alarm and not be tired. I am not fatigued after a day at work. I have new energy to be able to do more activities with friends and family. Instead of being invited to something and being that person that always says “We’ll see” I just say “YES!” and go have fun!

Meat can never TASTES as good as I FEEL. 🙂

Perkisha May 22, 2011 - 2:13 PM

I am in live with this blog!!! Okay now that I’ve often that out of the way, lol…I’m slowly going vegetarian too! I started by doing the “Daniel Fast” with church during Lent and I had so Much energy, that I couldn’t deny the dietary changes I had to make! Right now, I’m only eating meat on the weekends (primarily seafood and poultry). But I didn’t realize you were vegetarian Erika…I thought I saw a (very tasty looking) recipe for chicken on here last week. Do you/how do you incorporate meat into your diet and how has it affected your workouts?

Erika Nicole Kendall May 22, 2011 - 2:23 PM

I abstain from a lot of things, and so long as they don’t clash with my core principles, I don’t admonish people from eating them (like, for instance, pork.)

I eat poultry and shellfish occasionally, but not often. It hasn’t affected my workouts at all, really.

Tanya June 9, 2011 - 4:18 PM

I stopped eating beef a couple years ago!! I started noticing that everytime I ate it, I would get horrible stomach aches, so I just stopped!!! However, every now and then I CRAVE it. So, I’ll eat a lean hamburger or a small piece of steak and I still get the same pains. But once again, I CRAVE it!

Lynette C September 29, 2011 - 1:31 PM

My husband hasnt eaten meat in a month and doesn’t want it anymore,He was diagnosed with insanelyhigh blood pressure and I told him he needed tomake some changes,it wasnt just food,it was a few other things,but he hasn’t had any indigestion or need for heartburn meds and the doctor was so pleased with the change in his BP that he told him if he added some working out with his change in eating he could probably remove him from his BP meds.But I would say if your going to eat meat eat a better quality meat(grass fed,etc) and be aware of where your food is coming from,How it is raised and the process it involves to get it you,shop your farmers markets if possible and make sure there are locally grown foods there as well.I went to a farmers market that was selling blueberries from chile…Really?!?…So i’m just trying to educate myself and my family to be more concious about what we are eating.It’s a work in progress!

GrrlULuv October 10, 2011 - 3:56 PM

So… I think I’m doing it wrong. Recently I’ve been have about 1 or 2 days a week without meat, mostly because I don’t have the time to cook it and if I don’t cook it I shouldn’t be eating it. I’ve been getting dizzy and having headaches. Is this meat withdrawal or does my anemia have something to do with it? After nearly passing out in a lukewarm shower I’m a little freaked.

Yum Yucky October 13, 2011 - 10:04 PM

I accidentally stopped eating red meat (about 99% anyway). It was a combination of exploring and enjoying meatless options AND educating myself on how the meat industry works (ewww) and what red meat does to your body. The education caused a huge red meat turn off. Now I prefer the taste of whole grain and veggie dishes more than red meat on any day. Also, red meat weights me down. I can actually feel the difference in my body when I consume meats. Don’t like that feeling.

Lisa April 19, 2012 - 10:42 AM

I have been a vegetarian for almost 3 years. This is my second or third stint at being a vegetarian and, I believe this is my last time because I have no desire to eat meat. Being a vegetarian is a challenge for many reasons,( finding healthy food outside of the home in a jam) but when you get the hang of it becomes easy also the pallet is opened up to many more varieties. I wholeheartedly agree with this article, when transitioning to a vegetarian based diet it has to be done gradually, each time I stopped eating meat, I gave myself a few months to completely give up the chicken, beef etc… doing it that way makes it easier and not such a shock to the pallet. As for my health I feel better without the meat, but I have to be aware of my iron intake because I am anemic, but that is solved by loads of leafy green salads and the occasional iron pill. Lastly my children are still carnivores, but they have meat free days with me over the weekend and they are used to having a meal without meat, my oldest is currently having a meat free week, hopefully he converts, but no pressure.

Paulette June 26, 2012 - 1:11 PM

I am currently doing a meatless Tuesday and working my way to adding in a second day. I tell my family that I don’t know where this is going but my gut is telling me that this is the right thing to do.

“My impending vegetarianism was like a new gang moving in on her turf. After too long, I started to expect a horse head in the bed.” LOL!

Fa June 27, 2012 - 11:16 AM

I have been doing the weekday vegetarian/vegan. Throughout the week I eat plant based foods and no fish or meat (I will have an egg or 2), and Friday night which is typically date-night I’ll have fish. On Sunday I’ll have chicken/fish/maybe beef at my family’s traditional “big” meal. Over time I’ve noticed a huge change in how I feel on Monday morning and then on a Wednesday; Mondays it’s gassy and bloated, Wednesdays it’s light and great after 2 days of vegan eating. It’s been a great exercise in knowing my body and I really recommend this to anyone looking to cut down on the red meat.

DeepPeace July 22, 2012 - 2:39 AM

Man, oh, man…

Your mom sounds like mine. One day she said she was going to back some chicken. Why did I wake up to a perfectly healthy baked chicken…. that was drowning in gravy? I have been transitioning to Raw Vegan and it is driving her insane. I think she takes it as a personal insult. I tried eating healthy.

Jameka August 9, 2013 - 6:13 AM

I eat meat, but not that much and when I do, it’s more supporting cast than the star. I ate vegan for a challenge and found that I missed fish more than I expected. I definitely felt better, but I want a happy medium. I think I’m called a flexitarian, but I call it only eating meat if I feel like it.

sharon August 9, 2013 - 12:55 PM

Hi Erika, I have a question, I have not had meat since your challenge in June the no meat no dairy challenge, I have not desired to eat any meat, My hubby eats meat and when I cook it , it really makes me feel a certain way I cant explain it, but My question is, If I chose to add fish back to my diet, will it affect my stomach since it has been a while since I have eaten it? I wasnt planning on becoming a vegan or vegetarian I just really wanted to give my body a break and to break off from beef and pork , now that I dont desire it any more I will add fish back and I think I will do that at the end this challenge we are on now..
Thank you for your response and blessings to you..

sharon August 9, 2013 - 1:15 PM

HI Erika, I posted a question to you earlier, and I wanted to come back and correct what i said about the challenges i got the wrong name on who challenges I participated in and it wAS BGLW that has the challenge and whose challenge I was on In June.. :).
Thank you again for your response…

Emily August 10, 2013 - 9:09 AM

I was veggie for 18months when I was about 16 but I missed meat too much. Never been a big red meat eater but have been told recently that I’m anaemic so apart from taking daily iron tablets-how can I get the iron needed? I also don’t have much dairy due to it giving me stomach cramps but have recently been craving salt (salty chips, salty lattice, salt salt salt!!) which I’m told could be cos I’ve cut my dairy down?

Erika Nicole Kendall August 10, 2013 - 10:49 PM

Prunes, raising, dark leafy greens, beans, molasses…all very rich in iron.

Emily August 11, 2013 - 11:48 AM

Great thanks! I eat a lot of kale and spinach. Aren’t raisins high in sugar though?

Erika Nicole Kendall August 12, 2013 - 5:51 PM

Lots of things have naturally occurring sweetness in them – that’s different from white sugar, especially when they come paired with naturally occurring fiber.

Remember portion control, respect your own individual blood sugar levels, and you should be fine.

Mishala October 15, 2013 - 1:00 AM

#teamANTIbacon… can I join? lol. Actually, meat isn’t that big a deal to me. I go without it more often than not. It’s easy now, because my husband is deployed, and I’m only cooking for me and my pre-schooler. He’s a carnivore, though. So it’s always more of a challenge when he’s home. And by carnivore, I mean I’m seriously considering just moving to a farm and keeping a cow in the back yard. The man acts as if not having meat will kill him. So anyone have any suggestions, short of cooking two meals? I’m no vegetarian, but I am big into fish and poultry. Hubby, by contrast, doesn’t like sea food (at all, which is problematic, seeing as the islands run deep in me) and looks at turkey like it’s the devil incarnate. The only meat we have in common is chicken, and no matter how creative you get, you can’t eat chicken everyday.

Erika Nicole Kendall October 15, 2013 - 10:49 AM

I’m curious – how are the you cooking the kinds of proteins that hubby dislikes?

No offense intended AT ALL, but I oftentimes find that when people say they dislike an ENTIRE kind of food – in other words, they say “I hate broccoli” as opposed to “I hate broccoli prepared like X” or “paired with X” – it’s because they’ve had it cooked one particular way that ruined it for them.

giovanno January 3, 2014 - 10:58 AM

I stop eating red meat and lost 6 Lbs so far. My bowels moves better and my skin is clearing from acne. We all must do what best for us.ijs

Erika Nicole Kendall January 6, 2014 - 12:25 PM

Yeah, except that’s less about the lack of red meat in your diet, and more about the inclusion of adequate fiber in your diet, especially since you likely swapped out the red meat for more fresh produce. We may all need to do what’s best for us, but we need to do it with accurate and proper information. I’m just sayin’.

PT.Vu April 23, 2014 - 9:27 AM

I used to eat a lot of pork and beef, I used to feel sick without eating them and my body used to desire for pork and beef… until lately I dont know why suddenly my body changed, when eating pork and beef I feel sick because I feel it looks like human meat (maybe) and I am not able to eat more. Still I eat chicken and seafood.
Anybody has same experience? I cant explain myself.

Colleen L.M. February 27, 2017 - 5:20 AM

Since the beginning of this year. I decided to take out pork, beef and candy. I thought about becoming a pescetarian bit over time. So right now just chicken and Turkey. However I’ve noticed I haven’t been eating like I should. I can sometimes go a whole day without eating! I also forget to drink fluids sometimes or if I do it’s like only 16 oz of water! This is coming from someone who can eat as much as a sixteen year old boy sometimes. I’m not really sure what’s the problem. Does anyone know or has experienced this issue of not thinking about food?

Erika Nicole Kendall March 3, 2017 - 3:41 PM

If you’ve changed the way you eat in a dramatic way, chances are high your body is taking well to the changes and you’re feeling full because of it! It’s a great thing.

At any rate, don’t go so long without eating. I know there are people that are proponents of that kind of fasting, but it’s not something I recommend.

Samone G Willis November 29, 2017 - 9:32 PM

Day three no red meat, pork ,chicken or turkey. I had 4 pieces of shrimp today. Lifestyle change.

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