July 30, 2012

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For the next 31 days I have decided to go meatless. This decision did not happen overnight, nor was it because Food, Inc. finally converted me.

I grew up eating meat and loved it. It was a staple in my Portuguese and Peruvian household, and I ate everything on my plate including fish, sausage, liver, chicken hearts, beef, and tripe, which for the blissfully unaware, is the stomach lining of cows (I know, gross!).

During my teen years I started to have an uncomfortable feeling whenever I saw my mom prepare and cook red meat, enough that I asked her to substitute with poultry whenever possible. When I entered my twenties, biting into a chicken thigh or leg and seeing a vein seemed so gross that I started to eat just chicken breast or ground turkey to avoid seeing any reminder of a living animal on my plate.

At the same time, I was reading books and movies about the cruelties that factory farm animals go through to get to my dinner plate--although not even the Alec Baldwin narrative on Meet your Meat could change my mind permanently. So what finally made me consider a vegetarian diet? My dog.

Yep, you read that right. For me the final puzzle piece was getting my first dog, and realizing other cultures might consider her meat a delicious treat. Then I came across this quote “Why love one and eat the other?” and it finally hit me more emotionally.

It’s been a very slow process for me and I do have some concerns: Where will I get my protein if I am no longer eating meat? Should I be taking supplements? Will I over rely on carbs for my meals? How do I plan my nights out with friends? Will I get bored with vegetables and salads?

Hopefully I will be adding more vegetables and fruits to my diet, rather than ending up with too many carb-loaded meals and Oreo splurges. (Oreos are vegan, who knew?)

The next 31 days are an experiment for me, to see if I can be a vegetarian for the rest of my life. To that end, I will write about my favorite weekly recipes, what worked, what didn’t work, and how I am feeling. And hopefully, there will be some glowier skin in my future, too.

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