What’s the longest you’ve gone without eating meat?

Well, I was planning to post a recipe and my cooking failures along with it today (I have a lot of bean recipes coming up, and it turns out I am terrible at cooking beans), but I got distracted by a comment some random person made elsewhere on the internet.

Yes, yes, I know. If I spend all my time on other places on the internet, allowing myself to get distracted by the comments I read, I’m probably going to stop cooking. And eating. And sleeping. And taking bathroom breaks. The internet is vast. Thus, I promise not to do this terribly often, but I thought it was worth considering once it happened this time. Especially once I’d had a conversation with my good friend Angelique and realized it was blog-fodder.

I guess there’s a tip for you. Beware conversations regarding food with me. They may inspire blog posts, and ones that call you out by name.

Anyway, on to the real topic! Warning: Reader participation requested!

So, this person (on the internet) said that many “current environmentalists and sensible vegetarians are advocating” for people to reduce their meat consumption to no more often than once a month1. I mentioned this to Angelique and said I didn’t think I could do so. Maybe I could get to that point, but I certainly couldn’t do it any time soon. What I was starting to get at was that I’m a pretty terrible vegetarian cook. I was also considering that I’ve never, once, in all my years considered vegetarianism. Veganism was nearly beyond comprehension.

I, like much of the world and most Americans, really like meat. Enough so that I blew Angelique’s mind when she asked, “What’s the longest you’ve gone without eating meat?”

I didn’t have an answer. I could barely guess. I’ve never thought to track my meat eating, specifically. I took a wild guess and said the longest time I’ve gone without consuming meat was 48 hours.

She was shocked. She’d never considered that someone could go so little time without eating meat. What’s more, in that moment, she realized that’s probably true for a number of people. I’m not so sure. I know meat is very common, but I also hear about it being very expensive. It got me wondering if it really is true for a number of people. So I thought I’d ask here. (Yes, this starts the “audience participation” portion of this post.)

What’s the longest you’ve gone without eating meat? Do you think you could drop to once a month? If you could, how easily could you do so? I can think of at least two of you who have been vegetarians in the past (three, if certain spouses are reading) but I don’t know how long that lasted, and one who was at least an effective vegetarian for a year. I may have a current vegetarian reading, but I don’t know. Of the people I know are reading, none is a current vegetarian, but of the people who might pleasantly surprise me, one is.

Do I really only know one current vegetarian? I think I might. Huh.

Are you trying to reduce your meat consumption now? If so, why? The three major reasons I hear when people discuss it are cost, environmental effects and/or health reasons. I imagine there are other reasons, though. What about particular kinds of meat? Are you reducing beef consumption, but increasing fish consumption?

I have some of these answers written for myself right now, and I am thinking I’ll share them in a post later this week or early next week. However, I imagine there might be questions for Bill or I about all of this in the comments, and I’ll definitely jump in there as they come up.

So, please, let me know your thoughts. I realized I really am quite curious about my readers! And their meat habits, apparently.

fn1. It’s worth noting here that I believe the commenter was using “meat” as a synonym for “beef”. I am not doing so for the purposes of this post, because it got me thinking about all things meat, which are simplistically defined by me as “having a face”. So not only are pork and beef meat, so are fish, chicken and turkey and so on. Carrots and leeks and swiss chard are delicious, but not meat. Interestingly, most cookbooks perpetuate the idea of fish and non-game birds failing to be “meat” by using individual chapters of “fish”, “poultry”, and “meat” (occasionally also having “game”). I do wonder why it’s not “fish”, “poultry”, “beef” and “pork” (and, again, occasionally “game”). Anyone know?

6 thoughts on “What’s the longest you’ve gone without eating meat?

  1. I’m with you: I can’t imagine dropping my meat number (feel free to steal the term) to once a month. And you know me, but I’ll just say it here: not an activist by any stretch of the imagination (my care and devotion to Mother Earth does not extend to cows, chickens, and, most recently, crab-crusted halibut). I am, in fact, a fairly stereotypical American in this regard: I eat what I want, when I want, probably not in the correct portions.

    *sings “Star-Spangled Banner”*

  2. Two months is probably the longest I’ve gone, and only because I was trying. Liking Asian and Indian cooking makes it easier. For a year I cooked pescatarian at home (seafood only) but ate meat when I went out. I do it for health, environment, ethics, budget, and because handling meat takes more time (fear of cross-contamination, more washing and sanitizing of surfaces, smellier garbage, etc.).

  3. My best guess is a month or two. I don’t cook with raw meat, but canned tuna would probably have broken any streaks of no-meat-eating I have had. And of course now that I have discovered supermarket rotisserie chickens, the answer is more like 2 days, even if I am doing all of my own cooking.

  4. To quote the great Homer Simpson:

    “If God didn’t want us to eat animals, why did he make them out of meat?”

    I don’t understand the appeal of vegetarianism. I can wrap my mind around the argument that the animals are raised and slaughtered cruelly, or the argument that raising large herds the way we currently do is bad for the environment. So let’s get some bright minds on those problems and fix them.
    But I absolutely refuse to buy into the “it’s healthier for you” argument. We started out as a hunter-gatherer species. Now, unless Cro-Magnon man was stalking herds of wild turnips, I interpret that as meaning our species evolved eating some meat. Our teeth prove it!

    To answer your specific question about frequency of meat consumption, I eat something with a face pretty much every day. Pork and beef are only on my plate a couple of times a week, but I have chicken most other days. I’ll sometimes have a meat-free day but it’s never a conscious choice to do so, it’s just that my lunch was a can of lentil soup and my dinner was cheese ravioli. My meat consumption is not something that I ever think about. I eat what I enjoy, and I try to make healthy choices, which to me means a lot of variety.

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