Here’s Your Plan to Eat to Less Meat

Alright, big day today!

Why? Because it’s finally time to make it happen.

You see, with the previous lessons on protein, what a normal day’s diet looks like, and how you should eat around your workouts, we’ve been laying the foundation for a change.

iStock 000013742233XSmall 300x225But now it’s time to start building the house.

Make no mistake—there are still plenty of important details to consider to make sure your vegetarian diet (or near-vegetarian diet, if that’s more your speed) is healthy: protein-carb-fat ratios, iron, Vitamin B12, and other things you need to pay attention to.

But that’s detail work, and it’s not necessary to know it in order to get started. The way I see it, if you’re already in the process of transitioning while you learn that stuff, we’ll save some time and your experience on a lower-meat diet will make that information much more meaningful to you.

So are you game?

Great. Then let me share with you a little secret.

Cutting the meat out of your diet doesn’t have to be some big, sudden event. No need for a final night of excessive animal-eating, or a big, emotional goodbye to wing-night or whatever ritual you might have around food. (If you’re the cook in the house and you really want to be sneaky, you probably don’t even need to tell your family.)

When I first tried giving up meat, I tried to do it cold turkey. I know, awful choice of words.

Guess what? It didn’t work. I couldn’t deal with the idea of “I’ll never be able to eat [insert favorite animal] during [insert event] again.” You know, important pairings like “buffalo wings during Monday Night Football,” and less-significant ones like “turkey on Thanksgiving.”

But when I finally made the change last, it was because I went about a different way. And that’s what I want to share with you now.

Ready? Here we go.

Your Plan to Eat Less Meat

Step 1: Commit to one week (or if you’re an overachiever, two weeks) of eating meat with fewer legs.

What do I mean by fewer legs?

(i) If you currently eat beef, pork, and other four-legged animals, then that’s what you cut out for a week. Eat chicken instead of steak, buy turkey bacon instead of regular bacon, and if you want to go really crazy with it, try a vegetarian recipe or two during the week. From four legs to two legs.

(ii) If you currently don’t eat red meat or pork but still eat poultry, then you go less than two legs. If you can find a one-legged animal, have a field day, but mainly, all that’s left is fish (zero legs). You’ll probably find it weird to eat fish at every meal, and I’m sure with mercury issues that wouldn’t be healthy anyway. So use the opportunity to introduce lots of vegetarian meals.

(iii) If fish is the only type of animal you eat, get rid of it for a week. Use this as an excuse to go fully vegetarian for a week.

Have fun with this, but really commit. Blame it on this weird runner guy you found online, if you’d like. Whatever. Just don’t cheat. Come on, it’s one week. You can do anything for a week, can’t you?

Step 2: When your week (or two) is up, assess how you feel and decide what’s next. When you’re ready to go to the next level, return to Step 1.

Chances are, you’ll be feeling pretty good by the end of the week. And if that’s the case, commit to a month this time. Pretty soon, this level of meat consumption will be your new baseline and it’ll feel like second nature.

In the highly likely event that you’re feeling tremendous and super-motivated, then go to the next level. Cut out the poultry or the fish, whichever it may be, and get back to Step 1. Repeat until you feel amazing, even going so far as to cut out dairy and eggs if you find yourself curious as to how that would make you feel.

That’s it!

That’s all there is to it. You might find that you’re content at a certain level for months before trying to go further, and that’s great. The longer it takes you to get there, the longer it’ll probably last.

Even though this plan seems very flexible, I want to make one thing clear. When I say “commit,” I mean it. When you commit to something for a week or two weeks or a month, that commitment shouldn’t be flexible!

It’s a promise to yourself, and you’d better do everything in your power to keep it. I wrote a post called 7 Steps to Eating Less Meat Now that outlines how to make sure you don’t break that commitment.

Remember: This course is about performance, not labels

The great thing about this plan is that at no point do you have to say, “I’m never eating ____ again.” Go month-to-month and let how you feel and your athletic performance guide you.

Remember, the goal here is to eat less meat to be healthier and to become a better athlete, not to argue over labels and what counts as “vegetarian.”

If you decide that you love how you feel as a vegetarian but that you’ll never give up turkey on Thanksgiving, that’s totally cool by me. You can even call yourself a vegetarian, for all I care.

The point isn’t the label. This course is about eating for athletic performance. And from that perspective, you don’t have to swear off anything for good.

Now, I’d be willing to bet that after you start eating this way, you’ll notice that you start feeling more compassionate, and you may find that you like being a person who DOES NOT eat animals. But that’s personal and for you to decide. My only goal here is to help you get healthier, leaner, stronger, and faster.

Now it’s up to you. Go for it!

Alright, that’s plenty for now. Get started as soon as you’re ready, and in the next few emails I’ll give you some more tools to help you with your transition, like a sample shopping list and some basic meals you can prepare quickly and easily.

Do yourself a favor and take action here. It’s one week. There’s nothing to lose, and so much to gain. Be one of the few who do versus the many who talk. Good luck!

-Matt

P.S. Have a friend who this could help? Please share this link with them!

Did you arrive here from a forwarded email, a link on Twitter or Facebook, or a search engine? If you enjoyed this article, you can sign up for the entire course here.