The idea of a meat-free diet terrified me.
Because, first and foremost, bacon is a form of meat, and i love my bacon.
But also it’s just been one of those things that has always been around and most of my favourite dishes – shepherds pie, roast chicken and roast potatoes, steak mash and peas, spaghetti bolognaise – all contain meat.
The America Effect
When we lived in America for three years though, we lived with and around a lot of people who thought and ate differently.
They introduced us to Tofu – which was not a game changer cos that stuff is NA-STY!
But they also introduced us to other meat-free alternatives that were really good. And the idea that going meat-free didn’t have to meat giving up on taste and fun with food [that’s sugar-free!]
One thing that changed dramatically in me while we were there – and i can’t remember how because it wasn’t like someone actively tried to convince me but probably just by observing others attitudes and values playing out – was a much higher regard for life beyond simply humans. This probably manifests itself most strongly in a move away from killing things like spiders and other small creatures simply because they were in my space and i could. While this hasn’t yet affected my attitude towards mosquitoes [DIE VERMIN!!!!] or maybe flies, it certainly moved me to a space of trying to save life rather than killing it when the choice was up to me.
Towards a more meat-free vibe
When we came back to South Africa about five years ago, one of the first things we put in place was a move towards a diet that consisted of less meat.
We had tried the whole meat-free Monday thing before we left South Africa, but to be honest a lot of the time we would simply forget and realise halfway through Monday while munching on a ham and cheese roll and be like “Oh, wait!”
So we came up with the idea of one week on [where we eat what we would normally eat in an average week, which is not a crazy amount of meat typically compared to most of our meat-eating friends] and one week off [meat-free].
We also decided from the beginning that we didn’t want to impose this on people or be dicks about it and so if we ate at friends during a meat-free week and they served us a meat dish we would eat it without saying anything or feeling bad. But if people asked us we would tell them and if we went to a restaurant [we seldom go to restaurants] we would choose something without meat.
But does it make a difference?
One week eating food that may contain week followed by one week that is meat-free… is that actually making any difference?
i like to believe it is, for a number of reasons:
 Two weeks no meat a month doesn’t seem like a lot but the basic maths tells you that we have halved our meat consumption and so five years later that starts to add up to a whole lot of meat.
 We have challenged and changed the way we think about meat-free meals. My wife Val is particularly good at finding new recipes and trying new dishes, and the idea of moving completely away from meat does not scare us nearly as much any more because we know there are such great possibilities ‘on the other side’. Some of our favourite meals now are meat-free veg dishes.
 Our practice affects other people. It starts with questions or shared experiences [as we invite people into our space in a meat-free week for a shared meal] and as we blog about it or invite people to try it out for themselves hopefully we see other people’s habits and lifestyles change as well.
 We have discovered some new and amazing dishes and ingredients. Not all new veg we try out have proved to be good. But a lot of them have. And my wife has the magic that enables her to make brussel sprouts taste not even good but great [i kid you not – you have to experience this to believe it!]
So i believe it makes a difference. It certainly wouldn’t be any better if we had continued to eat double the meat we are eating now.
You brave enough to give it a go?
Which brings me to the invitation.
For the month of September i am hoping to find 50 people who typically eat meat more than three times a week, who will join us for a one-week-on one-week-off experience just for one month.
i have started collecting names and have 10 already and we have 2 weeks to find the other 40.
What about you? If you are someone who eats meat more than three times a week, how about checking it out for one month? i would suggest that if you think you can’t go without meat for two weeks in your life then you may have a problem anyways [They call that addiction!]
If you are up for the challenge [why not tag your best friend and invite them to do it with you – maybe you can discover some new exciting dishes together?] drop your email address in the comments [i will delete once i have it] or send it to email@example.com with a subject line that says ‘Meat-free challenge’ and i will add you to the growing list.
Who knows? Maybe five years from now you will be looking back at five years of halved meat consumption, which can only be a good thing.
Also, during September Val will be sharing some of the veg recipes we have discovered and i will be inviting my vegetarian and vegan friends to share some of their ideas as well. So you will not be on your own in this in any way, shape or form.
Who is in?