I have NO idea why I’m not eating meat.
I love meat.
Back in the day I’d order my steaks “mooing”. Just walk her to the table.
But it’s not just rare filet I enjoy. Load me up on BBQ pork, Chiavetta’s famous grilled chicken (it’s a Buffalo thing) or watch me tackle a charcuterie board with the best of them.
However, during my Blue Zone Project Challenge around 2 months back, Week 5 we practiced being vegetarians for a week which has been associated with living longer. In previous challenges, I’ve often gone meat free and actually use this tactic post vacations. You know the vacations where calories don’t count, but then all of a sudden those cute little shorts seem a bit sung on the plane ride home.
Around this time is also when my hubby and I watched “What the Health”, a somewhat controversial documentary essentially promoting a Vegan lifestyle. I also attended a program where Dr. Esselstyn was the featured speaker. He made several cameos in the film and has written books titled “How to Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease.” Quite the giant claim but some interesting science and tons of testimonials to back up his theory. You may be more familiar with his quite handsome firefighting son Rip who wrote the NY Times Bestseller, The Engine No 2 Diet. Throw in a couple close, young friends with new cancer diagnosis and it just seemed the right time to start ramping up the healthy quotient. After all I am a dietitian.
So fast forward 12 weeks and I’m still essentially meat free.
In my mind, the catalyst for doing these things is starting to wear off.
And recently I was confronted with an “obstacle” when I had the luxury of attending a girls evening out that included a 5 course meal complete with wine pairings.
Of course on the menu there were items that included meat; a corn bisque garnished with the best, perfectly looking crisp bacon. The main entrée was a succulent skin-on chicken cutlet pounded thin, laid over a heaping of lobster stuffing and finished with a beurre blanc sauce.
This meal reminded me how much I love cooking. How much I love being in the kitchen and trying new recipes even if during this night I was just the recipient of such fine cuisine.
I was starting to loathe the idea that I was limiting myself in creating and discovering new dishes that would contain meat.
So, did I eat the bacon garnish?
Did I eat the chicken?
Yes. And No.
I tried a bite. Yielded it a tad too dry for my preference and carried on just stuffing myself with lobster and more perfectly roasted vegetables.
Am I craving meat?
Yes. Well actually more like my mother in laws pot roast. All those cooked down veggies in a seasoned brown concoction she makes. Honestly now that I think of it I might not need the beef. So maybe I’m just craving gravy.
Here ‘s the thing though that happened when I gave up meat:
I cringe in sharing these numbers with you, but here’s my lipid panel for the past 3 years. Things like total cholesterol, triglycerides (Tg), the good cholesterol (HDL) and the bad stuff (LDL).
2015/ 2016 Lipid Profile
- Chol- 210/ 212
- HDL- 78/ 79
- LDL- 120/124
- Tg- 60/49
2017 Lipid Profile
- Chol- 178
- HDL- 79
- Tg- 43
My slowly creeping cholesterol that my doctor blamed my aging body on dropped 34mg/dl. And that rising LDL from weekend bacon eating and the joy of trying to discover a perfectly cooked hamburger also yielded a 34mg/dl drop when I gave up those habits. If I stayed on this path of cholesterol creepage, I was definitely going to end up with a statin prescription in no time. Ouch! No Fair! I don’t even eat fast food. Ok maybe a McDonald’s Happy Meal once a year during our annual Thanksgiving road trip but come on!! These lips have never even touched a Whopper let alone a meat lovers, double stuffed crust pizza. That just sounds gross!!
And since my Triglycerides didn’t increase, I didn’t replace my meat with refined starches, like some people might assume.
I still have the occasional scrambled egg, I’m learning to make a mean veggie only pot pie and overall have decreased the cheese entering this body. Fish and seafood (wild caught preferred) are here to stay.
The latest research on cholesterol (remember the big egg debates) are now saying that some people are cholesterol “responders”. This could also explain some of the significantly varied research surrounding coconut oils “healthy vs non healthy” saga despite being over 90% saturated fat. I still don’t do coconut oil. I think it’s like playing Russian Roulette. How do you know if that saturated fat with its 12 carbon bonds is going to act like the Good Witch (a medium chain triglyceride that contains 6-12 bonds) or the Bad Witch (long chain triglycerides which has 12 or more)?
And since I might be one of those “responders”, I’m thinking for now I better continue to pay attention to my overall saturated fat intake. And it doesn’t get much easier than to just avoid meat.
At least for now.
What about you? Have you ever made any dietary changes, given up anything and have no idea why? Did it last?
Drop me a comment below or pop in on my KimLeneghan FB site.