A week without meat

Saturday, May 5, 2007 | 1:00 a.m. CDT; updated 6:51 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008
Matthew Colgin, residential services manager at the Reserve Apartment Community (Joanna Bajor helped him write his story.)

Day One: 9:15 a.m. I have not put a morsel of food into my belly today. I have decided to see if I can live without meat (chicken, pork, lamb and beef) for one week. If this works, it could possibly lead to a complete life change. I recently saw the movie “Fast Food Nation,” and it made me sick. I will use that as motivation to get through what is sure to be a week of hell.

Day One: 5:15 p.m. For lunch I ran home today, which I normally don’t do. I usually get a turkey sandwich delivered, or pick up a fast-food burger or something simple and continue my day at work. Today, however, I ran home and ate a quick peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It was no cheeseburger, but it was sufficient to hold me until dinner. Dinner, oh no ... it’s going to be a battle. My fiancé just bought loads of meat this week. This is going to be hard. I will be cooking her one thing, while I am eating an entirely different thing myself. I didn’t expect to be challenged this early in the game. If I don’t give into the pressure, I will report my struggles tomorrow.

Day Two: 8:45 a.m. I survived last night. I cooked an amazing dish of lemon pepper chicken, Greek-style potatoes and steamed veggies. I made one chicken breast for my lady and on my plate substituted spiral noodles in butter, Italian seasoning and Parmesan cheese. It worked out well. I will admit, though, that the chicken smelled very good, and I was tempted to eat the flakes left in the pan. No one would have ever known. But I didn’t. I stayed true.

Day Two: 2:54 p.m. Looking forward to the first meal of the day; it’s coming from Ski-Hi Bar and Grill. I’m going to try the roasted veggie sandwich.

Day Two: 3:45 p.m. Wow. That was pretty good.

Day Three: 3:16 p.m. Last night was a challenge. I needed a quick dinner, and all I had was a supreme Tombstone pizza. It was so frozen I had to pick the hamburger and pepperoni off after it was cooked, then re-cheese and microwave it to melt the cheese. What a pain. But I feel that if I have gone through this effort to stay meat-free, it’s something I can accomplish.

Day Four: 1:45 p.m. I am starving. My boss bought lunch for us — a Subway sandwich with ham and turkey and bacon. I passed on it. So now I am starving. It’s almost 2 p.m., so I might just go the rest of the day without eating. Being a veggie head is very inconvenient.

Day Four: 2:20 p.m. Starving. Feeling very tired as well. Need protein.

Day Five: 5 p.m. Have you ever been to Buffalo Wild Wings? There is nothing great about its food unless you get the wings. A friend of mine took me for beers and wings tonight. About two minutes before we ordered, I told him about this project. After his rants of “that’s weak” and “we were born to eat meat,” I got the popcorn shrimp with tasty sauce, and he couldn’t keep his hand out of the basket. Although they were not as good as the wings my mouth was watering for, they were pretty decent.

One thing I have noticed is that it is not so fun being different than “normal” meat-eating society. Beef is such a large industry that it pushes meat any chance it gets. The Missouri Beef Council is offering a $500 refund to any cattleman’s group or county farm bureau willing to conduct a Beef Month promotion in May. Yes, May is known as Beef Month. These promotions could be beef sales, beef education activities, public relation events or just the advertisement of beef. Because “Beef, it’s what’s for dinner.” Right? Nope, not for me.

Day Six: 8 p.m. I experimented tonight with a veggie burger recipe I found on the Internet. I was pretty impressed. It was like a potato pancake in a bun. I think it’s a recipe I am going to keep. Maybe a little less potato next time and more green peppers.

Day Seven: 12:36 p.m. Today is the last day, and I am excited. I haven’t eaten anything yet, but I am going to head home soon and scarf a PB & J with chips on the side. Meat eater or not, you’ve got to admit a PB & J is good anytime.

Tonight is going to be stir-fry with lots of rice. I am going to eat mine with tofu, and my lady will have chicken. That is probably the hardest part about being a vegetarian — if your spouse is not one, it creates a lot more work. I think tomorrow morning I am going to start the day off with a big juicy steak, only because I can.

This was a great experiment, though. It was a good test of willpower and made me take a quick dive into another culture that is not so publicized with billboards and “councils,” and big money trying to sway the influence of the people.

Who would have thought I would ever have tofu in my fridge? Or a can of beans for a meal or that I would try my hand at a veggie burger recipe? I am not going out to buy a tie-dyed shirt or Widespread Panic tickets anytime soon, but I do have a little more respect for the veggie heads out there.

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