Myth: It’s impossible (or near impossible) to not eat red meat and fully enjoy the experience of travel at the same time. Myth: Giving up red meat while traveling can be cumbersome. Fact: I gave up red meat (and poultry) on February 1st 2016, and have traveled to over 12 countries since – including Peru, Nicaragua, Germany, and England (very red meat-heavy countries!) and enjoyed every second of my time there. I love food, and have enjoyed the food scene with locals – without eating red meat.
Why am I picking on red meat specifically? In a “perfect” world, we’d all only eat plant-based proteins. But we as humans have proven time and time again that we’re indeed not perfect – far from it! Giving up red meat is a way to test your limits – a step in the direction of helping yourself, while helping the environment. A lot of people can’t go “cold turkey” – give up all meat in one go, and understandably so. One way to combat this is to try it step by step. I gave up all red meat (beef, lamb, pork) and poultry (chicken, duck, turkey, geese), and am currently dabbling in easing fish off of my plate. Christian just started easing beef off of his plate – it all depends on what you’re comfortable giving up at one time.
Cards on the table, I adored eating red meat. It’s delicious. Being married to a German hasn’t made it easier for me to give up red meat, but I did, and I don’t miss it. What started as an experiment to see just how long I can go without eating red meat has turned into a blessing in disguise. There are several benefits to giving up meat that I encountered on the road, the seven below being the best of them:
Vegetarian dishes are usually cheaper than meat dishes on almost any menu. You can even try ordering two vegetarian appetizers instead of a main course and usually get away with more variety at a cheaper price!
You’re less likely to get food poisoning
Travel sometimes means that you have to make-do with a restaurant nearby on the road. While mishandling any type of food can give you an upset stomach, you are less likely to contract illness from some cooked potatoes or boiled vegetables than a piece of undercooked steak – which happens quite often if you prefer your meat medium or rare! Ordering a vegetable fried rice from a dodgy restaurant is usually safer than getting fried rice with duck or pork at the same place. Sticking to more vegetarian options can reduce the risk of you being stuck in bed for any portion of your vacation.
You can keep the non-meat options you took to go for longer
We’re big fans of taking our lunches to go and eating them during a hike, or over the glorious roadside. Packing a vegetable sandwich is usually less risky than taking a beef or pork dish to go.
It’s healthier and makes it easier to keep fit
Let’s be real, it’s hard to get up for your morning run when you’re on the road. And you don’t want to forego on that delicious pizza or pesto pasta just because you weren’t able to make your steps on vacation! Maybe you’re on a cruise and have no mountains to climb, just a deck to stroll on. Maybe you want to just lie at the beach all day while on holiday. Giving up red meat while on vacation is a great way to stave off that additional “vacation-weight.” Not to mention, cutting out red meat means less hormones and antibiotics in your meals. It can lead to a reduction in chronic diseases, improved brain health, and a drop in cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Who doesn’t want all that, on vacation?
And if you think you need red meat to maintain that physique, think again. Take it from Arnold Schwarzenegger: “If they tell you to eat more meat to be strong – don’t buy it.”
You’ll feel fitter/more energetic
Research shows that eating less red meat can increase energy levels and fitness via several factors: increased metabolic levels, less bloating, reduced cholesterol levels, less blood sugar levels etc. Nobody really wants to just lie around feeling heavy on vacation… we could do with more energy reserves on holiday!
You’re not contributing to the mistreatment of animals
However you try to spin it, animals are harmed during meat production. There are hundreds of opinions and arguments ranging from “Do they actually know that they’re being killed?” to “They’re getting a better life on these farms than they ever would otherwise.” Try watching a video of, or visiting, a slaughterhouse and meat-processing plant to see if you’re 100% comfortable with how these animals are treated, from the grazing field to the chopping block. It’s a fantastic feeling to know that you are among the growing population of people not contributing to this industry, whether it’s by giving up all meat or just red meat/poultry etc.
You’re not contributing to the gigantic impact of animal agriculture on the environment
Animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the combined exhaust from all transportation. Livestock and their byproducts account for at least 32,000 million tons of carbon dioxide per year, or 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. Livestock is responsible for 65% of all human-related emissions of nitrous oxide – a greenhouse gas with 296 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide, and which stays in the atmosphere for 150 years. Animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution, and habitat destruction.
Whether you buy into the environmental argument or not, not eating meat while traveling can lead to a safer, cheaper, more enjoyable, and more sustainable experience for you on the road. You don’t have to go vegan – try giving up just red meat, or poultry, (or both!) and see how it goes! Aren’t you just a little curious to see how far your will-power can take you?
Have you given up meat, or are thinking about it? Share your experiences with us below!