Meat(less) Head: Our writer tried Meatless Mondays—and lived to tell about it!

I’VE BEEN AN INVETERATE musclehead since Jimmy Carter was president, which is to say, for a very, very long time. In past issues I’ve told of how I received my first copy of M&F when I was 13, and while never achieving my boyhood dream of becoming the world’s greatest bodybuilder (nor, for that matter, a halfway decent one), I’ve faithfully followed the bodybuilding lifestyle ever since. That, of course, has meant lots of hard training and the consumption of copious amounts of protein— animal protein in particular.

Then, a few years ago, I watched the meat industry documentary Glass Walls, narrated by
Paul McCartney, and could no longer look at red meat without feeling queasy. I had qualms about eating poultry, too, but reasoned that chickens are lower on the evolutionary scale than cows and…hey, I had to have some kind of animal protein if I wanted to continue to keep my muscles! Still, a nagging voice in my head asked if I really needed to adhere to such a meat-centric diet.

A couple of months ago my girlfriend started doing “Meatless Mondays”— a movement that encourages people to forgo animal products one day a week—for ethical, health, and sustainability reasons. Then, this past December, that pillar of the M&F lifestyle, Arnold Schwarzenegger, pronounced that he would begin practicing Meatless Mondays himself (see his column on page 150). Never a big eater to begin with (despite his big biceps),
Arnold knows that raising cows and bringing them to market account for more greenhouse gases than all forms of transportation on this planet combined. Ever the environmentalist,
he decided to put his veggies where his mouth is one day a week and, in doing so, make a stand for the planet.

What more motivation did I need? So a couple of Mondays ago I ditched meat in favor of a vegetable-based diet for one day. At the end of that day I found that I not only didn’t miss
indulging my inner carnivore, but I was “lighter” inside—not as weighed down by my food as I normally would have been. The health benefits I felt from supplanting meat with vegetables and fiber were almost immediate. Without giving it much thought, I ended up forgoing animal protein two more days that week, and so began a new way of eating for me. I’m not vegan or even vegetarian. I still eat some fish, poultry (pastureraised, organically fed, humanely raised and slaughtered), and eggs, but I’ve found that reducing my meat intake by a good 50% hasn’t resulted in the loss of an ounce of muscle mass and has me feeling more energetic. Plus, the peace of mind I’ve gained makes it a no-brainer.

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