Meat - How I Started Doing Without




About: I made a beer mug with only a knife and a hatchet. I think that says a lot about me.

9 months & 23 days. That's the time passed since I decided to quit eating meat. Almost one year gone, since I decided to eat no more steak, filets, bacon, saucages, pastries, ribs and all those things that were partially responsible for my daily dosis happiness during the past 39 years.

No, there's been nobody telling me that I was going to die if I continued. I didn't develop a kind of dirty allergy, neither and I'm not being hypnotised. I still love meat, really.

'You don't eat meat anymore, so what?!' - I don't blame anyone posting this type of comment in the section below. It's not 'not nice' and so there's no problem. It's not really 'nice' either, but whatever. Feel free to 'so-what' along.

Disclaimer: this instructuble will get quite personal, since I'll talk very open about things I'll insert in my body, and precisely about things I don't insert in my body anymore. This instructable is not really a howto, but a subjective writing about the events that drove me to take one particular decision in my life. It's not my intention to convince anyone or to get anyone in 'my' camp. I don't care, in fact - we're all grown up persons and everyone's free to decide.

No more meat, so. 9 months & 23 days later.


Step 1: So You're a Vegetarian?

Before I start to talk about points & commas, it's necessary to answer the question 'why'.

'Why would someone stop eating meat? Meat is good, no?'

Yes it is. For almost 40 years I enjoyed meat in all its glory. Raw, cooked, smoked, baked & carbonised. I did it all. And I enjoyed it. A lot.

'So why would someone who loves something just want to stop it, from one day to another?!'

Because it's better to stop something while it's still good than hàving to stop it because it's getting boring.

Just one way to see it.

No, seriously, because I don't want to take the lives of mammals & birds anymore.

No more than that. Besides a whole bunch of other arguments - see later - this is definitely the baseline in the whole story.

I don't want to be responsible for the death of another cow, pig, horse, chicken or whatever. Not anymore. They only have one life - unless you believe in incarnation- and it's not bart who's going to take that away from them. And it's not bart who'll pay someone else to do it.

So far so good.

'Do you still eat fish?' - Yes, I do.

'And mussles, crabs & lobsters?' - Yes, I do.

'So, their life is less important than the life of those cows & chickens?' - No, it's not. But everyone's drawing the line somewhere. Mine stops at mammals & birds. And reptiles, if you want.

Yes, I'm more sensitive to the death of a cow or pig than to the death of a fish. Sorry about that.

Whatever the definitions may say - they're only invented to put things in boxes - I'll never say that I'm a 'vegetarian'. For me a 'vegetarian' is someone who doesn't consume parts of animals - or whole animals. We can discuss about this untill the skie turns brown with yellow dots, but since this will lead us far beyond the purpose of this Ible I'll leave that to the purists.

I don't eat mammals. I don't eat birds. And reptiles - birds àre transformed reptiles, in fact. Point at the line.

Step 2: Knowing You're Hypocrite Is Only the Beginning

I lied, in fact, when I said 'from one day to another'.

Like all love-stories, the thruth is just a bit more complicated than that.

I didn't take the decision of becoming that-no-meat-guy at once. I didn't woke up, one crazy morning, jelling 'I'm stopping it!'.

Not at all.

You know, before I met my wife I was like most people: hypocrite to the bone. I ate cows, pigs, sheep & chickens by the dozen, but I didn't eat horses, for example. Why? Probably because in my western mind horses were 'more noble' than other mammals.

I know this is nonsense, because there's no scientific evidence of horses being more 'noble' than other species. 'Noble' is even not a scientific concept.

Whatever, I limited my meat-source to chickens, pigs, cows and sheep.

Of course, I heard about the terrible conditions in which those animals were grown up, transported & killed.

But I prefered looking the other side. 'I'm born on the top of the food-pyramid, you know, and I enjoy it'. Bart, 20 years back in time.

But then I met my wife...

Step 3: The Ethical Issue Thing

My wife is 'vegetarian' since she was 12 years old. Already 4 years, so. Yes in Belgium we marry very young.


She never, ever, tried to convince me to stop doing this or to start doing that. She did it the viscious way. Women, you know. Kidding, bis.

Since we were definitely not at the same side of the field discussions & civilised conversations became inevitable.

A lot of discussions, in fact. We talked seriously about what really happened in the industrial farms, where thousands of pigs were packed together and fed untill they were just fat enough to enter into the standards. 6 or 8 months to raise a pig, about two years for a cow, 6 months for a chicken, the antibiotics, the collateral damage, the stress, the transport, the beating & the punching, the blood on the floor of the slaughterhouses, the nicely packed pieces of rosy flesh in the markets.

I don't want to play the emotional string - you're sensitive to it or you're not. Look on the net & you'll know.

I'm sure you know it already, in fact.

And you're just looking the other side. Just like I did, many years in a row...

Step 4: That Quality & Taste Thing

The base of wisdom is knowledge. I tried to soften my hypocrite behaviour by starting to pay attention to whàt kind of meat I bought.

Cheap is never good. Buy cheap, buy wrong.

Quality has a price. I thought that it would be better to buy meat from animals who'd had a decent life, at least. 'Better having a good life untill you die than a bad life'. Quite simple as idea, and a hughe step in the right direction.

Turning my concern into action, I started buying chickens directly from the farm - a few times I even catched them myself and did the whole thing at home - and I started looking for 'labeled' meat. Get the info in the country where you live. If the animals have grown up in open air it'll be marked on the package. If those cows or sheep have eaten real grass it'll be mentioned. If those pigs have seen real sunlight you'll see it at the price.

Eat better, eat less.

Taste the difference, between a cow that has grazed on pastures on the border of the sea and one that's passed her short life on a concrete floor with pellets of weird origin in her bucket.

Your tongue won't lie, believe me.

Step 5: The Ecological Footprint Issue Thing

Besides ethical questions I also started thinking about the crazyness of the whole thing.

You know, 3/4 of the open space in Flanders is used to produce cereals & vegetable proteins to raise cattle & pigs.

Also, thousands of tons of vegetable proteins (soya pellets, for example) are imported to feed these animals. Turning proteins into other proteins, something like that.

15 kilo of vegetable protein to have 1 kilo of beef.
7 kilo of vegetable protein to have 1 kilo of pig.

Only numbers, maybe. The system, you know.

Ironic detail: the manure isn't shipped back and has led to a complete ecological disaster since it's easy to spoil it on the fields when it's raining. Eutrophication of our whole water-system has it's source somewhere. Not one natural water source is safe, since more then 30 years. Nitrates are everywhere.

Yes I looked the other way, again & again.

Step 6: The Last Drop

Last year I joined a friend who's having a farm in the mountains. We brought hundreds of sheep down to the valley, fed the cows, caressed the calves of the year & fed the chickens. We had a wonderful time, enjoying all this life.

80% of all this life is gone, by now. Taken away and flushed into the system. Replaced by other life.

People need meat, you know.

Enjoying those last beams of sunlight in the mountains I decided to make an end to it. Definitively. I called my wife, just to tell her that I'd rounded the cape.

I left the system. Or at least, this part of the system.

I still wear leather boots, wear a leather jacket and wear leather gloves at work.

Byproducts, you know.

There's still work to do...

Step 7: Changing Attitudes

Leaving the meat path is one thing, but what's next?

Since I quit consuming meat I didn't loose one kilo. I lost fat, a bit, but I gained muscle. Ironic, no?

People who don't eat meat aren't skelets. Really. That myth has been crushed a thousands of years ago. And they're not unhealthy, eiter. In contrary, btw, there's a direct correlation between vascular deseases and the consumption of animal products.

Our grandparents ate meat maybe one or two times a week. And they did hard, manual, work. It's only after WWII that meat became a daily issue. Industrialisation, you know. Marshall-plans to rebuild Europe, you know. American soya-excess shipped overseas, you know. Since we didn't really know what that to do with it some genius decided to feed the animals with it. Vegetable protein turning into animal protein. The biggest magic tric ever.

Since past year I changed my way of life. I'm eating more diversified than before. Beans, lentils, nuts, peas and 'veggy' stuff. But also cheese, eggs & insects. Replacement proteins are easy to find. And a lot cheaper, btw. You'll fart just a bit more.

UPDATE: About that 'veggy' stuff. You know, living in Belgium or the Netherlands has not only disadvantages. For people with a 'vegetarian' lifestyle it's heaven - contrary to France, for example, where it's a pain, but that has everything to do with their self-protecting meat based culture & traditions.

Whatever, in Belgium there's plenty of no-meat stuff available in the regular market circuit. Time's gone someone had to go to a specialised (bio)shop 200km away just to find some non-animal proteins. Whole veggy-sections in every supermarket, since a few years we're used to it. The veggies are out of the grey zone, over here.

Just an example: there are a few very nice brands who propose products made from mushroom-proteins. Steaks, saucages, filets, cordon-blue, burgers etc. You can't imagine a meat-ish product or there's a nice alternative for it. And it tastes great, also. Here's a link: Check out if this is available where you live.

For what it's worth: I'm a very actif guy. I've got a busy (manual) job, running from worksite to worksite, I love mountain trekkings and I often march 60 or 100 km in once shot. Endurance training. I feel great, really. Energy for the dozen, and no meat in my motor. Don't believe what those media try to do believe you.

Changing cape is simple. Once you've turned the helm you only need to hold it.

If I don't miss those ribs on the barbecue? Nope. You can eat a meat-filled plate in front of me, I won't even drool. I know I've been privileged to enjoy all this for almost 40 years and that I had more in one average week than some whole families in one month.

So no, I don't miss it. Turning the page, you know.

Step 8: Yes, But

In fact, past months I quit I did eat meat, in fact...

Let me explain.

This winter I was driving home at night and I found a freshly hit hare on the road - still rigor mortis.

Of course I took it home. Of course I ate it a week later and it wàs delicious, btw. Onions, potatoes & brown beer, hours on the stove, a pure fest.

Of course this is not cheating. This animal wasn't killed intentionally to end in my stomach. Accidents happen.

In fact, this is the same pragmatic attitude my budhist friends in Nepal had, almost twenty years ago. They didn't eat yak meat, for example, unless it came from one who'd stucked off a cliff.

No problem with that. Accidents happen, and it's better to use those accidental natural resourses than to waste them.

So, living without it?

Of course it's possible. Easily.



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    48 Discussions


    3 years ago

    Well that is a very interesting story, and well wrote. Despite my recent bouts with a piece of dried beef, I myself have slowed down a lot on the amount of flesh I ingest, I never buy it any more and have it once or twice a week instead of the once a day I was used to. And I don't feel bad. I actually feel better about myself. I'm by no means a vegetarian but I think that reasonable meat consumption is good, like mostly reasonable everything

    2 replies

    Reply 3 years ago

    That's how I started, also. Now I'm vegetarian. Beside the eggs of our chickens & a lot of honey I skipped every animal-related product from my menu. And I feel good. Really good, no kidding.


    Reply 3 years ago

    written* well written*

    Damn time to go to bed


    3 years ago on Introduction

    I stopped eating meat and poultry for 2 years ago July 4th. I do eat seafood because they aren't cute and cuddly when they are babies. Unexpectedly I lost 25 lbs. Also grocery bill is down. And it was all easy. All I did was not put any meat or poultry in my mouth. Cooking was very easy too. I just left the meat out of Spaghetti, etc and it's just as delicious as always. And I don't buy anything special , like tofu. I hate tofu!!!

    2 replies

    Reply 3 years ago

    Good one! Like to most people who stopped eating meat, the loss of weight has been the most surprising - and nice - side-effect of the whole story. And yes, I feel good when I look to those overweighted people with their caddies full of meat in - the rare times - I visit the supermarket.

    Not, in fact. I feel bad just after that second I felt good. Bad because they don't see to know what I know now and bad because they're eating themselves into destruction...


    Reply 3 years ago

    This is very much how I feel. Plain and simple

    Ray from RI

    3 years ago on Introduction

    1. Ok so you are still eating fish, lobster, clams etc ... But you are still eating meat no matter what you say otherwise....

    2. So you just stopped eating Mammal and birds.... because of what, the alleged intelligence issue of eating these animals...? And if this is so I can understand that issue.

    3. But if you going to stop eating meat, because you developed a self conscience aspect of eating higher Vertebrates, then you should stop eating fish as well because of the environmental issues of over fishing and the destruction of fish stocks as well. It seems a bit funky you stopped eating some vertebrates, but not all Vertebrates.

    Well I guess congratulations for your decision of doing so, myself at 61 I still eat meat and I am for myself not about to stop at this point. Thanks for the interesting article.

    1 reply

    3 years ago

    Good for you! Vegetarianism is a step towards a better earth. Meat is unethical, unhealthy, and bad for the environment. It is also part of global hunger because so much grain that should be going to people is going to meat farms to feed thousands of cramped and abused animals. I stopped eating meat and poultry 7 months ago after I learned about the awful truth of where meat comes from.

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    Vegetarianism is not necessarily a step towards a better earth, I honestly wish people would be tree huggers instead (even though the scientists are wrong on why we should stop cutting trees). There is nothing wrong with eating meat, I do not agree with the abuse and bad diet they are given, but you can eat grass fed beef, which is much better for you. Also I would find nothing wrong with killing and eating a deer, a much better alternative to beef, but people like you would rather that I would not do that. Did you know that hunting keeps animal populations in check? Also, on the issue of grain you brought up, people over in say Africa don't need just grain, the life they have is hard and demanding the need protein. Besides the grain we have now is actually not the best thing to eat, much of it has pesticides and does not have the nutrition people need, so you will have a population of well fed and yet malnourished people. And the "awful truth about where it came from" is a fact that most people grew up with when they lived on a farm, they knew where the life giving food they survived on came from. Think of it this way, it dies so you can live, if you want to go technical a plant is a living thing so your arguments are backwards. You don't have a problem with killing and eating a plant? The thing is, people like to personify animals, they have done it for years in cartoons, so you think they are practically a sentient being, well newsflash THEIR NOT, take a stand for more important things than "Animal Rights".


    3 years ago on Introduction

    I see it like this: animals don't have a 'soul'. We shall eat them.

    Industrial farming is not as bad in Europe, for example. Unless TTIP.

    The environmental impact is still huge, I must admit.


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Seems that all those years I had it wrong, believing that living was about being happy...


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Beliefs are often incorrect. Because they are not based on fact, or evidence. Living is about living. Eating a balanced diet will keep me alive too. Arbitrarily limiting my food choices for bogus reasons makes my life harder. So that goes against living. Happiness is immaterial. Plenty of unhappy people lived to a ripe old age. Conversely many people died having the time of their lives, as a direct result of the activities they were engaged in that was making them so happy too.

    I never met a sad steak at the supermarket either. I have some beef cows that live around the corner from me. I can't tell their mood. If I had to guess I'd say they were content to lay about in the field they live in and eat what the farmer brings them. They never have to worry about anything.

    Nope they're living like cows in paradise until the day they're not. If you set them free they'd probably get hit by a car, or something. Misery has a way of finding all of us given enough opportunity.

    Your article is a load of one sided vegetarian propaganda. You completely ignore the fact that eating meat is what allowed our species to evolve. Eating meat quite literally made us who we are today. My ancestors didn't struggle for millions of years to get to the top of the food chain just so idiots today can throw all of their hard work away!


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Fred, first of all my first reply was ironic - sad you missed the humor of it.

    Second, you also missed the title and halve of the content. I'm telling how I, bart, started doing without, since I think it can be helpful for someone, somewhere. I'm in no means telling how YOU - or anyone else - should do it. Vegetarian propaganda? Really? Where? I told you what drove me to take this decision, and I'm taking the freedom of totally not being interested in your opinion about it.

    Third, nice try trying to trap me in a pro/contra meat discussion. There are fora for this, on other sites.

    So, fred, enjoy your way of life, enjoy your daily steak and make it a good one. I can even give you a few hints to make it better, if you want.

    And, my next Ible: 'How to get a real sense of humor' will be specially for you.


    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    Best reply ever. Thank you for sharing.

    pfred no one's taking your steak or your salmonella crawling chicken. I think learning to plant and harvest was quite a step up in terms of adaptation and anything but idiotic.


    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    "eating meat is what allowed our species to evolve"
    When I read stuff like this I know that something has gone wrong on Discovery Channel and that for your average Joe it's impossible to tell the difference between evolution and degeneration.
    The most amazing thing though is wading through all that pseudo-scientific and pseudo-philosophical garbage and then see this instructible being call a one-sided vegetarian propaganda in the same paragraph. Hillarious.

    "Eating meat quite literally made us who we are today"
    Exactly. Dumbed down, obese morons brainwashed so hard that they mistake their very own beliefs for science-based facts.

    I'm glad the common cardiac arrest deals with the majority of people like that.


    Reply 4 years ago

    Just because we evolved with someone doesn't mean it's the perfect thing. It just means it worked. I'm still consume meat but I see the logic that the writer presents, through the "story"

    I've heard that you should eat protein rich foods when you quit meat... Wow, "quit meat" sounds like quit alcoholism xD Anyways. You should eat chickpeas more, they are very rich on proteins. But I don't know how to cook them. Any ideas?