The author went without meat for a week to gain perspective and put a greater value on what he normally eats with his catch. (Leff Lund / For the Juneau Empire)

The author went without meat for a week to gain perspective and put a greater value on what he normally eats with his catch. (Leff Lund / For the Juneau Empire)

I Went To The Woods: Living meat-free for a week

A week really is nothing. It’s the preamble to a habit.

By Jeff Lund

For the Juneau Empire

I hate the self-righteous reports from journalists, bloggers or social media folks about how they enriched their lives by depriving themselves of comforts. Or when they decide to “take a deeper look” by exposing themselves to the lifestyle of someone else, but really only want to validate their world view and have no intention of being objective. They just can’t wait to return to their followers after their pilgrimage to some dangerous other side.

It’s like when people tell you they are going to hate a movie, and refuse to admit it was good. They would rather fake misery than admit they were wrong.

With that in mind, here’s the story about the week I stopped eating meat.

I didn’t really have some sort of epiphany, and I knew it would come to an end, but there are some really smart, healthy, happy people who either don’t eat much meat, or don’t eat any meat, so I just happened to not eat meat for a week.

I know that habits take weeks to start, but I also wanted to get better at buying fruits and vegetables daily rather than weekly, and spend the time preparing healthier sides so when I put meat back on the menu, it was accompanied with variety rather than just whatever pre-mixed bag of salad I was in the habit of grabbing.

As is the case with everything from the economic impact of direct checks and effectiveness of masks to why the 6.5 Creedmoor is overrated, the internet contains information about why a plant-based diet is not only healthy, but also that it’s destructively unhealthy. I can find whatever I want to find, it’s just a matter of where I want to look. Lost in this debate of course would be how it would make me feel if I was diligent in my research.

[Stop being a modern Walter Mitty]

Maybe all those greens would make me feel bloated and uncomfortable, lethargic and calorie deprived. Or maybe I’d pay attention and not sabotage my experience by eating 600 calories of salad and an apple then claim that plant-based diet made me feel tired. Well, yeah, if I eat less than a third of the recommended calories in a day, that’s going to happen. Plus, most of the calories in the salad mixes I buy come from the dressing, not the plants, which is most of the problem.

Anyway, flawed experiments lead to illegitimate conclusions. We have extensive experience in this activity. This is how the common person becomes an expert on constitutional law, history, medicine and atmospheric science thanks to a three-minute YouTube video.

I’d like to say I came out of this experience with great recipes, but I haven’t. However, I have remembered how much I really do like fresh red bell peppers, decided hummus isn’t all that bad, but cooked carrots are. Buying smaller amounts of fruit puts me in a better position to eat them before they go bad. I also reintroduced myself to the delicious snack of a quality organic apple, and quality peanut butter not laced with sugar.

It just seemed logical that a meatless week would also be one nearly void of treats. I wanted to be aware of the temptation to feel victimized by my no-meat week and allow indulgence to undermine the experience.

I felt good during the week, but not really much different, probably because a week really is nothing. It’s the preamble to a habit. I’ll still hunt and eat meat, but I don’t have to be one of those finger wagging, self-righteous types.

• Jeff Lund is a freelance writer based in Ketchikan. His podcast, “The Mediocre Alaskan,” is available on Spotify and Apple Music. He is, of course, on Instagram @alaskalund. “I Went To The Woods,” a reference to Henry David Thoreau, appears in the Empire twice a month.

The author went without meat for a week to gain perspective and put a greater value on what he normally eats with his catch. (Leff Lund / For the Juneau Empire)

The author went without meat for a week to gain perspective and put a greater value on what he normally eats with his catch. (Leff Lund / For the Juneau Empire)

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