It has been far too long since I undertook a food challenge for Lifehacker. So I've decided that during November I will adopt a vegetarian diet and give up meat altogether.
Sandwich picture from Shutterstock
This is not due to any sort of ethical awakening. I enjoy meat. I've made my peace with how it's produced. It's more because I'm curious about the claim you often hear from vegetarians: that you feel better when you eliminate meat from your diet.
I think the idea lodged in my head when I read an interview with actress Joanna Lumley (of Ab Fab and general fabulousness fame). Lumley makes a good case that browbeating people is less effective than appealing to their vanity:
I'm a vegetarian and I long for people to eat less meat, but the thing to do is not to go, 'Eat! Less! Meat!" It's to say I am fit as a flea and I'm 63, I haven't eaten meat for 40 years, and I never get diseases, I'm never ill, and I'm full of energy. So how's about that?
I'll be interested to see if this holds true for me. The scientific evidence for the benefits of vegetarianism is mixed, in part because many studies have looked at people who aren't just vegetarians, but are also teetotal non-smokers. I don't smoke, but I have no plans to give up wine in November.
I'm also curious to see how difficult it is to stick to a meat-free approach. There are already some good vegetarian recipes in my repertoire (and I'll be trying out some new ones). At home, I don't think it will be a big challenge.
However, I'm travelling for work for a fair chunk of the month. My usual lazy on the road takeaway options aren't going to be possible. (That might also result in my feeling better, I suppose). I'm conscious that you have to plan carefully to ensure decent iron levels when you're not eating red meat, so that will also come into play.
I'm not doing this specifically to lose weight, but I am going to weigh myself once a week. Kotaku editor Mark Serrels, a man who is physically incapable of starting his day without weighing himself, threatened to pelt me with rotten eggplant if I didn't. Given my fondness for carbs and cheese, I'm not at all sure the number will go down.
I'll post about what I've been eating and how the experience is going roughly once a week here on Lifehacker. I'm also planning to tweet using the hashtag #veghacker. If anyone has tips or recipes to share, let's hear them in the comments. Meanwhile, I need to go and buy a lot of tomatoes. A lot.