Ironically, the current book for my media club is Agustina Bazterrica's "Tender is the Flesh", a dystopian tale of love and industrial cannibalism. It makes Sinclair's "The Jungle" look like a show on the cooking channel. I'm almost finished with the book and... I may never eat meat ever again.
Now on the to show...
From a mental health standpoint, this month has been a good month. My mental health usually starts to drag in October and gradually gets heavier through the holidays. I usually see an uptick after the New Year, but this year, January has been particularly good.
It can’t be just the meatlessness.
Januarys are usually when things start to get better. I don’t know what it is about starting a new year that gets me over the hump. This year, though, the change has been a more stark contrast than usual, for the better. It can’t be just the meat, or the lack of meat, that is making things better.
There must be some other contributing factor. So let's go down the list:
I thought you were supposed to be the negative voice.
Sure, but what's good for you is good for me, or us, or me, that is.
How's your sleep?
Solid… great, even.
Are you staying active?
Average… but countered with exciting change.
Are you staying creative?
Steady on. Making stuff. Writing this.
Feeling hopeful enough.
Is it the season?
It’s not fall anymore; the days are noticeably longer every day. That helps a lot, but that is not unique to THIS year.
So, it’s not evident that there are other significant reasons why this January has been better for me, other than not eating meat.
So what now?
I guess we'll see what happens when I start eating meat again.
The idea behind the 12A was that I would give a thing up for a month and only a month. The different abstinences would not compound. Some of them are challenges upon myself to see how I would feel, if my body reacts differently, or if my perspective would change. But even in this first month, I can tell that 30 days probably isn’t enough to understand what life would be like without the thing.
Now, it seems a little silly to go and eat meat just to see if I dip, mentally, but I’m just dying to know if I can see some kind of change when I reintroduce meat to my diet. Again, this is all so not scientific and has probably been written about a thousand times somewhere, but it’s interesting to be my own guinea pig.
So next week, I’ll introduce meat and keep an eye on my mental state to see if there’s any difference.
You know it’s OK to eat meat just because you like the taste and experience of eating meat, right? You’re not overindulging or eating so much that it’ll have a negative consequence on your body or your life. What about the eating meat for the joy of eating meat? Remember bacon? Bacon is fantastic. And you remember when Anna made Chicken Adobo last week and how everyone else was enjoying and you couldn't? That was a bummer. Let's not throw the (METAPHORICAL) baby with the bathwater.
But what if the pleasure isn't... enough. I think it’s gonna be interesting over the course of the year that I’ll learn that even these things that I would say that I like, that I love, can be done without and I’m just fine. Like sure, bacon is great, but it doesn’t make my life better, and pleasure, when you break it down, is just a dopamine hit. I’m capable of replacing those dopamine hits with other dopamine hits that may or may not cause heart disease. Wouldn’t it be better to just do that? Is it worth the spikes and dips? Is the average wellness higher?
Here we go.
This may be a long rabbit hole/side bar, but the idea of dopamine spikes is something that I think about quite a bit. You can take a bite of delicious bacon and have a pleasurable experience. You can eat a piece of candy and have a spike of dopamine or a good feeling. You can enjoy the taste and you can also just have a spike of pleasure, but then you swallow it. Pleasure... over.
Maybe then you have a dip. Not a dip of tobacco, and not a Fun Dip, but a low of some kind. Maybe it's a feeling of lethargy or meat sweats. Maybe it's a sugar crash. Every up has a down.
Alcohol was like that in many ways... where I could take a drink and get a spike of pleasure. Alcohol would actually raised my temporary pleasure level up a notch, if you will. But then there would be a dip or decline, and I'd go back below normal before returning to stasis. You would maybe have another drink so that you would stay up/higher than normal and you wouldn’t dip, but then the dip would come later, and so on.
I’ve noticed that since I stopped drinking alcohol, I’m not on the up and down roller coaster nearly as much. In many ways, my mental health and my average happiness seem to be more stable.
The "highs" of alcohol were high... it was really fun to have a drink, or a couple of drinks with friends, or have a drink after a long day at work, and you have this nice buzz or whatever. I’d have those high points, but then there were always low points.
After three years without alcohol, I've noticed that the roller coaster of life is not as exciting, but it is safer, smoother and more stable. I’m not going up as high or down as low and that’s kind of a good thing, albeit boring sometimes. My average level of well-being is markedly higher than the average between all those highs and lows.
We were talking about meat.
Right, I'm getting to it. When I think about meat... is my average level of wellness higher without it? Four weeks in, I'm think the answer is… yes. But it’s not conclusive, as I mentioned above. So my testing will continue. I’ll see what meat is like next week and see how it goes.
But you’ll be taking something else out, won’t you? Yes, so of course this isn’t scientific research, so I can do what I want. But yes, I will be beginning another abstinence in February. And it’s gonna be a big one for me. I’ll be giving up SWEETS.
Sweets? A bit vague, don’t you think?
It is, but that’s intentional. I am trying to abstain from indulging my sweet tooth. That’s a general thing and it takes shape in a few ways, but wherever that takes shape is where I’m going to try and abstain. So, I can imagine a week without sweets, and in the same week, introducing meat back in, could have interesting results. Stay tuned for more exciting adventures!
Fair warning... for the first week in February, I might be a slothy crab... or a crabby sloth.