Four weeks of steadfast and dedicated plant-eating came to an end today – it wasn’t exactly what I dreamed of.
Today is the first day after a month of no meat, dairy or eggs, only things that come out of the ground. Whenever hungry in January, I was always hit with a blood-lust for steak and for those hours of hunger I pined for a tranche of cow on a plate.
I thought it fitting that I satisfy those past cravings in the most ridiculous way – a steak for breakfast.
Bleary-eyed and half-asleep, I threw on an unironed shirt, lumbered upstairs and I took the 200 gram sirloin steak out of the fridge. Into the blazing pan it went. I just wanted to taste the unadulterated meat. I could’ve gone on and cooked it like Jamie Oliver or Gordon Ramsay, but that has plenty of garlic, butter and rosemary. I wanted to taste the steak for what it was.
So, I awkwardly set up the camera. I put the timer on and placed the camera on a box on the bench. Ran over, took a bite, then did that over and over again.
The first mouthful was intense. It was rare and bloody, as I’ve always like it. The deep, irony taste of the meat hit my tongue and I could feel the fibres breaking down as I chewed. Boy, did I chew; pulses and legumes don’t have that texture. But I wasn’t overwhelmed nor was I brought to tears by what I’d been missing.
Should I have curled up in the fetal position in glee or in shame? The best part was, by far, the fat. But even that didn’t trigger my meaty rebirth.
My stomach is a little upset, my jaw is reeling from being properly used once more, and I think I’m a little upset at myself for not finding it the most amazing meal this year.
I must admit that I did fail once, that I know about, absent-mindedly obliging an offer of a piece of chocolate which contained dairy.
Most of the time it’s easy, once you get into a rhythm of eating and shopping. The hardest part will always be socialising and going out to eat. I was lucky that of the times I did go out, most restaurants were obliging in helping me stick to my ways. Cooking for yourself is never a problem, so long as you’re prepared to put in the time.
I was a big boy when I started, I’m a well-padded man still, but I feel a lot healthier and I believe I’ve lost a little weight. In retrospect I should have had my bloods done and weighed myself. While the positive feelings may be nice, the best thing to come out of the whole experience was the fact I realised I need to think about food more.
I cut out almost all processed foods, thanks to the restrictions, and I feel much better for it. By forcing me to look at the list of ingredients, it made me realise I don’t know what the hell I’m putting into my body when I buy something out of a box or in a wrapper.
So, in my own laziness I kept foods from a packet to a minimum because I didn’t want to read the entire supermarket.
I’ve rediscovered the wonderful flavours of kumara, the versatility of tofu and the wonders of black beans. And at one point, I found myself commenting on the beautiful flavour of a roast potato. That must have been a first.
Given this has made me more of a conscious consumer I will be cutting down my meat, dairy and egg, but I won’t be giving it up. I will be looking to go back to the way our grandparents ate – less of the bad stuff, more of the good. They seemed to have got it right.