Mindful Eating: A Struggle with Meat

Towards the end of the year, many of us self-reflect and evaluate what we want for ourselves. My continuing hope is to listen to my body. Over the last 4 years, I’ve struggled with what my body is saying about whether or not I should eat meat.

This is not a moral objection to eating meat masquerading as a health concern. I want to, I really do. This is especially true as I embark on this project exploring and reporting on all things in the intersection between humans and food. But, certain meats just don’t agree with me. Where most people get energy from meat-protein, I feel weighed down, and my body has a hard time processing it. Some meats go down more harshly than others: I was not-so-kindly reminded after eating lengua & cabeza tacos last week. But, some meats don’t affect me at all, like chicken and rabbit. I am not the type of person to deprive myself of things I like, but there has to be some self-control if they end up hurting me.

Cutting meat from my diet first came about as an experiment, when I was doing a bit of self-study in Ayurveda. I had tweaked small things in my diet and lifestyle that brought balance, in accordance with my dosha (Ayurvedic mind-body type). It was an interesting process, and I enjoyed figuring myself out by tuning into how different foods made me feel. Not eating meat was the hardest change I took on. For two years, the only meats I ate were poultry and some fish - as Ayurveda said these were okay for my specific constitution. I felt incredible. My body processed foods much easier, I didn’t feel weighed down or sluggish, and my skin glowed. I consumed most of my protein through vegetables and legumes, but I missed the taste of salty meats.

When I moved to New York, in 2012, I almost immediately started eating meat again… I would eat pretty much anything. I was in the culinary capital and there was no way I was going to limit myself. For the most part, I felt okay re-introducing meat into my diet. I ignored any stomach pains and focused on the tasting pleasures when eating endless cured meats, fried sweetbreads and cheeseburgers. They didn’t make me feel terrible, but they also didn’t make me feel great.

And, here is my struggle: I want to feel great. If not eating meat makes me feel better, then that is a conscious change I would like to make. While BLTs are one of my favorite things in the world, I need to listen to myself. This change for me isn’t clean-cut, and at this point, I’m not ready to give it up entirely. I will have bites of meat here and there, but I won’t consume it everyday or in large quantities. Plus, Jason is here to try all the meaty-goodness for you and I, while we’re traveling.

If any of you have foods that don’t make you feel your best, feel free to share! What are some changes you’re making to your diet this upcoming year?

xx and happy new year,
P