Celebrating a year without most meats

Monday marks an anniversary that cements my standing as the black sheep in my family. Jan. 12 is the date I gave up most types of meat. At the end of 2013, I did something I don’t ordinarily do: I made a New Year’s resolution. I decided to give up all meat with the exception of seafood. People like to call this pescetarianism. I’m sure some of my family members have a more colorful name for it, though they don’t give me too hard a time these days.

Since the anniversary is nearly two weeks into 2014, you can probably guess that there was a hiccup with that resolution. It’s true. I caved just 11 days into the year. I was at a birthday party in the Bay Area for one of my childhood friends, which involved some late-night imbibing. The food served included shredded-pork tacos—I blew my pledge by eating one. But, since I’m a get-back-on-the-horse kind of gal, I recommitted myself the next day.

And I’ve been successful. No beef, no fowl, no pork, no lamb, no wild game. Just veggies, grains (lots of them), fruit, fish and shellfish.

I’ve been a meat-eater my entire life, but I’ve occasionally dabbled in vegetarianism. Usually, that would last for two or three months. Bacon has always been my Achilles heel. Salty, crunchy, delicious bacon. After a year without most meats, it’s the only one I still crave from time to time.

When I made my resolution, the impetus had to do with my physical well-being more than anything else. I’m in the twilight of my 30s and have the typical concerns of someone my age. That I don’t exercise enough. That I don’t drink enough water (I’m still really bad about that). That I deal with too much stress. That I don’t eat as healthfully as I should.

I’ve long known the health benefits of a plant-based diet—a lower risk of heart disease, for example—as well as the benefits to the environment. And I’ve set out on numerous occasions to cut out most meats, especially red meat. This time, I followed through.

I jumped back on the wagon after my shredded-pork breakdown last January with a renewed determination. But what really solidified my resolve was watching an animal get slaughtered shortly into the new year. I was out on assignment last February for a cover story (see “Uneasy jobs,” Feb. 20) and saw the entire process; a mobile butcher pulled a lamb out of a barn and turned that animal into a meat product. It was eye-opening for me—an animal-lover. I’m not going to chronicle the whole process here, because I described it in detail in that story. And then I described my reaction in a column (see “Slaughter,” Feb. 20).

But I will reiterate something I wrote at the time. Those who couldn’t handle reading the story ought to stick to the salad bar.