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Less Meat = Healthier Leah

February 27, 2011

Well, she’s done it again. … Oprah, that is.

I know. I know. After the slight rant on Oprah I wrote not too long ago, I’m here now to sing her – or her show – praises. Specifically, I’m talking about the Harpo vegan challenge where Oprah and 378 of her staff went vegan for a week. I was eager to watch this show, especially considering I’ve never though I could go vegan – much less vegetarian – for more than a day.

While I wasn’t running out to try all the vegan recipes, I was really intrigued by the results many of the Harpo staffers shared. Many said they felt healthier than ever before; their frequent indigestion and stomach issues were nearly gone, said another. One man lost seven pounds.

This was interesting, I thought. I love food and, as you know, love cooking. But I have been feeling quite bloated of late to the point where I wasn’t even that hungry much. So I decided to take a modified version of Oprah’s challenge. I cut back on my meat intake and waited to see what would happen. Notice I said cut back and not cut out; I think I’d have a mutiny on my hands with Sophie and Bryan if we went meatless.

I’m not a big meat-eater. But I’d venture to guess that we eat some form of meat (chicken, beef, ground beef, ground turkey, pulled pork) in our dinner nearly every night. And I usually take leftovers to lunch each day since I bring my lunch. I nearly always ordered some type of meat dish when eating out.  so my challenge would be to start eating meat only once a day, and I’d plan some dinners without any meat.

And you know what? I physically felt so much healthier. I noticed a big difference after only five days. My stomach ached less. I didn’t feel bloated as much. I started craving more fresh vegetables and fruit. In fact, once I started cutting back on meat, I didn’t really want it much at all. When I did have to buy food at work, I found myself buying salad sans meat or veggies and dairy.

And I really do thing there’s something to this because from this past Thursday through Saturday, I did eat meat twice a day (simply because of the dishes I had those days). By Friday afternoon, my stomach was acting up. By Saturday evening, I felt sick. So on Sunday, I went back to meat only once a day and I’ll be making more fish or meatless dinners during the week.

What’s the phrase — It takes a certain amount of days to form a habit? I definitely felt that the last few weeks. It’s amazing how your body quickly adapts to the new ways you treat it.

While I’m not about to go vegan, or vegetarian for that matter, I love how I made one small change in my diet and I feel healthier and happier from it. So thank you, Oprah. Once again, you’ve given me an “a ha” moment and made an impact on my life.I’m back to the Specialty Produce Farmer’s Market bags as I attempt to eat more meatless meals.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. February 28, 2011 5:14 am

    Perfect timing, Leah. I’ve been having tummy troubles and wondering what to do about it. I’ll try this. Either way, I’ll feel better. Thanks!

  2. February 28, 2011 7:56 am

    Love this post. About a year ago, my husband and I did a three month vegan cleanse. I don’t really love meat to begin with so that part was easy. Cutting out dairy was the biggest challenge of all; however, when we did I lost 4 lbs. in one week. No other changes… just no dairy. People were worried for me asking how I would get protein or calcium. Well, the best sources of calcium (that are easily absorbed by your body) actually come from veggies like spinach, greens, herbs, broccoli and so on. Protein was easy with items like lentils (BBQ lentils are so delish), a billion different beans, and tofu. After the cleanse, I went back to eating both meat and dairy; however, my consumption was drastically reduced. Even now, if I load up on either I feel terrible. Can’t wait to hear about your veggie meals!

  3. February 28, 2011 12:03 pm

    As you know, Boo, dad and I hardly ever have meat at home. Dad likes burgers when summer’s here and his habitual tuna, but me? . . . I hardly ever eat meat. I love RARE steak when we go out, tho. I virtually eat nothing but veggies, fruits, nuts and yogurt. My body loves it. Strange as it seems, the only draw back is the constipation! Hmmmm.

  4. February 28, 2011 6:19 pm

    Hi Leah,

    Great epiphany! This past year, I’ve been trying to lose some weight and lower my blood pressure. So, I usually only eat meat once a day, and it’s generally either salmon, white meat chicken, or a tuna sandwich. And let me tell you, it makes a world of a difference! I’m a health writer for my job and one of the things I’ve learned through interviewing experts is to eat your produce FIRST, and then your carbs and meat last. I don’t always do this, but I try the majority of the time, and it’s a great little tidbit.

    Congrats on your newfound eating habits! I agree with you. Once you begin working more fruits and veggies into your lifestyle, and less meats, you do begin craving healthier foods.

    Shari

  5. March 1, 2011 8:46 am

    Despite scientific knowledge that meat should be eaten in moderation, I am a carnivore. Like you, meat is a part of every meal.I keep telling myself that I must have meat – the protein- because I’m running 5 miles at least 5 times a week. But research, I know, has proven that protein from legumes is just as healthy. I HAVE started adding beans into my meals! Thanks for the insight; you might have inspired me to give it a shot :-). Everyone wants to FEEL better!

  6. March 2, 2011 5:53 am

    So interesting… After coming back from my vacation, where I overate all kinds of meat, I decided to detox my body , so I stop eating meat for a month. Leah, I felt so good, so light. After this month passed I started with chicken (white meat) and just recently i introduce dark meat again in my diet. I feel a lot better now than before, when I ate beef and pork and everything in between, even thou I miss a good steak.

  7. May 2, 2011 4:15 am

    This is encouraging! It’s good to know that you had such good results in your attempts to cut back. Hopefully our meatless month of May will render similar results!

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