I didn’t mean to do it. I hadn’t even seen Cowspiracy or Food Inc. yet. Or read the recent study about how processed meat can cause cancer. I just decided I didn’t want to eat anything I wasn’t comfortable killing on my own. So that narrowed my options. I thought nothing should have to die to keep me alive if I could help it. So two months ago I cooked a steak on the BBQ — not really knowing at the time that it would be my last for a long time — and I just haven’t had any since. I’m trying it out, cold turkey, which actually sounds weird to say now…
So here I am, two months in and no animals have been harmed in keeping me alive — although I am still eating fish (caught with rod and reel) once in a while, ya know, ’cause It’s OK to eat fish, ’cause they don’t have any feelings (not necessarily true, I know). But I also feel it’s worth mentioning that I pass no judgement or even give much thought about people who do eat meat. This isn’t a campaign to get people to go vegetarian or whatever you want to label it. Do whatever the fuck you like. I’m just relaying some observations from my two months eating plants.
I could probably start by telling you a bit about the health benefits I’ve been enjoying, like way more energy, a bunch of new fruits and vegetables I’ve learned I like, and I’m sitting at an un-bloated fighting weight I’ve never experienced. But the most alarming thing about changing your diet — and the thing that no one really tells you about — is how lonely it is. Because many of my friends and acquaintances don’t want to go to eat lunch with me anymore. It’s too restricting. They don’t invite you over for dinner because “you’re complicated.” A pest to the lunch break. To the BBQ. You’re impossible to cook for. Waitresses loathe you and your, “Can I get that with no meat?” questions. And this is the hardest part. Because I’ve been on the other side of it. And to be honest, at most places, it is kind of annoying. So now I’m annoying, despite trying to be the contrary, and going to eat with me is a bit of a chore. But I must say, so far, I think it’s worth it.
I’m also aware that nearly every single restaurant has something that doesn’t have meat, but it’s still pretty overwhelming to drive around and notice how much we feature and celebrate meat. It’s fucking everywhere. I was just driving around with Dillon Perillo earlier today and we came to the conclusion that if you just ate foods that didn’t have a marketing campaign behind them, you’d probably be on the right track. Food shouldn’t need marketing. And once you realize that, you start to feel tricked by the fast food crowns and their “billions served,” picturing just how many animals it would take to keep this whole carnival going, and it gets kind of heavy. And I forgot about that — or I allowed myself to forget that — because we make Chik-fil-et ads so damn cute. But I had to break the cycle. For myself. For now at least.
So the drive thru is no longer a haunt of mine (another perk of the new lifestyle). Because now, two months in, for whatever psychological reason, none of it sounds good anymore. But I have new favorites. I binge on smoothies and celery instead of Cokes and wings. At first it’s boring, but now it’s really just opened me up to a whole new realm of food. Although, I mostly eat it alone.
But I will figure this out. I know I can. For now, it’s just hard to face your friends at Hooter’s who can’t figure out a nonjudgmental way of telling you how much better the wings are than the celery (because on one level they’re probably right). But I’m sticking to it, I’m traversing the new frontier of meatless-living, and I’ll have to learn to bring something else to the table socially, or really get better at navigating a menu, because from what I can tell, it’s the magic trick called marketing and meat that is keeping us all together. —Travis