I still get a kick out of the looks of disbelief I get when I tell people that as part of my healthy, meatless diet, I eat cheeseburgers every chance I get. They tell me, “that’s ridiculous–if you eat cheeseburgers, of course you’re eating meat”. Wrong!
I had been a healthy eater for years, but when I took the next step and decided to go what I call “NMP” (no meat or poultry), I knew that if making that transition was going to work, I had to find a way to eat food I’d actually heard of and wanted to eat. I didn’t see myself regularly eating tofu. I didn’t want to eat like a rabbit. I was a child when fast food franchising really came into its own, and today we live in a world where you can have four branches of the exact same fast food chain within six miles, and twelve different places to buy a hamburger in one mile’s distance! I also had my favorites from family dinners, restaurants and clipped magazine recipes.
It took some time, but I eventually came to realize that virtually anything I wanted to eat, had a more healthful non-meat/poultry version. Forget everything you’ve heard about going meatless either full-time, or from time-to-time. I follow an “NMP” eating style full-time, and I regularly eat delicious food like cheeseburgers, chicken parmesan, tacos, BLTs and chicken caesar salad (in their non-meat/poultry versions of course).
I feel that one of the big reasons that most people will not consider going without meat and poultry, or that those who try it do not successfully stick with it, is because they try to make themselves eat things they don’t enjoy, and toss a lot of their old favorites out the window. This goes against many of their natural eating patterns, so it ends up being only a matter of time before they can’t stand it anymore and go back to what was familiar and enjoyable. Add to that what I call “meat and poultry eaters peer pressure” from friends, family and co-workers, and the “NMP” lifestyle becomes too difficult.
That’s too bad, because eating more of a plant-based diet, is being pointed to more and more as a great way to maintain good health or lessen the severity of illness or disease when it does strike. It is in fact health reasons that are mentioned most often as why people either reduce their intake of, or give up, meat and poultry.
Please believe me when I say that you can go without meat and poultry either full-time, or from time-to-time, and still eat the foods you love–the foods you grew up on, and the foods you like to eat out–you’ll just find healthier ways to do so by making substitutions. Of course, in addition to the “fun foods” I’ve described, you should also be eating more of your favorite fruits, vegetables and other simple non-meat dishes, like whole-grain pasta, that are easy to prepare and that you’ll love too. There’s no tofu required, and the possibilities are delicious!
So remember, if your image of someone who goes meatless does not include eating your favorite foods, it’s time for a change in mindset. You can have your cheeseburger and keep your health too!