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January : Meat : Part 1

The first abstinence of the year is meat.

I wanted an easy one to start the year off. Knowing myself, and knowing what it takes for me to make it through midwest winters, I knew that giving up caffeine, or sweets, or another one of my essential crutches would be a mistake.

I am meat-eater, but I'd say it's a part of my diet, not the center of my diet. Meat is not part of my identity. I've managed to avoid the middle-age stage of celebrating smoked meats or indulging in extravagant cooking apparatuses. I don't own any clothing with images or anecdotes about meat on it.

Yes, you do.

I do?

Yes, you have those mountain biking gloves from Saddledrive that say "Bikes, Beer and Bacon" and there's a gross little bacon strip on there.

I stand corrected. Bacon is so good, though. And those gloves fit nice.

What I'm trying to say is that giving up meat is not a great sacrifice for me or for my personality. I knew giving up meat would not (negatively) affect my routines or social life, so it made for a nice "soft" entree into my year of abstinences.


Yes, entrée. I was trying to be funny.

Keep trying.

Part of this whole project is to reflect on the thing I'm abstaining from and evaluate its place in my life. We eat meat regularly in our home. Mostly chicken, turkey, and whatever mystery meat makes up pepperoni.

Tell them about the pepperoni.

Right. I broke my meat fast almost as soon as it started. On January 2nd, I meandered into the kitchen around lunchtime and saw a few pizza rolls leftover from a kid's lunch. Naturally, as is my God given right as a dad, I helped myself to an exposed pizza roll. It didn't even cross my mind that there might be meat in it. It was purely instinctual. Anna told me it had pepperoni in it and I laughed. So much for purity. The infraction was a good reminder that living without these various things might not be hard for me, but remembering to live without them will be a challenge for me. The mindfulness will take practice.

And this brings up a question I've been getting since I started socializing this project. "What will you do if you fail or if you break your fast? Will there be a consequence or punishment?" Not really. I am my judge here. I supposed I could invent some kind of punishment, but I don't think that would be productive. The goal is awareness, not purity. I have spent too much of my life punishing myself, so I will be a gracious judge for this.

I'm reminded of a time I broke a Lenten fast. I was a freshmen in high school and still quite Lutheran. Giving up things for Lent was one of the few things I could do at that age that made me feel like I had a grasp on religion. That year, I gave up chocolate for Lent. It was going well, too. I was headed towards Easter feeling pretty holy and it all came to a halt. I was in Spanish class. We were playing a game and, if you answered correctly, you'd get a candy. I can't remember the question, or the answer, but I got it right and my reward was a Tootsie Roll. It was in my mouth in no time. As I savored the chocolate-ish flavor, it struck me. I'd broken my fast! I was eating chocolate. I really did have a moment and feared I'd be struck down. After a moment of panic, I swallowed it whole, confessing to God that I didn't mean to eat it and wasn't totally convinced Tootsie Rolls even had chocolate in them. God is gracious, though, so my life was spared.

Back to the pizza roll.

There was no consequence, but there was new and fresh awareness, so everything was on track.

I'm half-way through the month now, and haven't really felt any different without meat. I will note that my sleep has been better, but I don't think I can make the direct correlation. I have spent a lot of time and energy improving my sleep over the last few years, so it's doubtful a couple weeks without meat would have a noticeable effect. Regardless, I've been sleeping even better than usual (and my "usual" is pretty darn good).

I bet we'll hear ALL ABOUT THIS when you give up your bed for a month.

Probably. Definitely.

I don't think I'll see any effects from a month without meat. Whatever caloric difference there might be has been made up with peanuts.

You should give up peanuts.

You should shut your mouth.

And even if I did ingest fewer calories or less fat this month, I am not as active this month (currently -9° here), so I won't see any real weight loss. Which is fine and good. This project isn't about weight loss, really. It more about awareness and whether or not living without these things makes a positive impact on my well-being.

That's all for meat, for now.

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