One day last summer I woke up craving a burger. My initial thought was to suppress this craving—I hadn’t had any red meat in over twelve years. Why would my body be wanting something so foreign now?
I struggled with this concept for a while. To give you some context, I initially chose to stop eating red meat as a teenager because I was told and read that it wasn’t “healthy.” At that point in my life I still ate chicken, fish, and seafood but to be honest, I was never focused on where my meat was coming from. I was only a kid!
As the years went on I started to eat less and less meat overall—we’re talking everything animal protein. There is no question that I definitely tend to crave a more plant-based diet overall, but as more time went on I created this “rule” for myself that I wasn’t “allowed” to eat meat or I was only “allowed” to eat it a day or two a week despite what I really wanted. I know this may make no sense to some of you–in my head, plants equaled fewer calories. Despite the fact that a big part of my diet was plant-based proteins such as lentils, chickpeas, beans, nuts, and seeds. These foods are pretty nutrient dense, but for whatever illogical reason I had no fear attached to these foods.
When I woke up this summer craving red meat, I had to sit with my feelings. I had to re-teach myself the importance of sometimes just giving in and listening to my body. That it’s going to be ok! After all, our bodies are pretty smart and know what they’re doing. There was clearly a reason why my body wanted that burger and the best thing to do was just accept it and move on. Grass-fed beef is actually high in lots of vitamins and nutrients such as iron, zinc, selenium, and B12 plus it’s a great complete source of protein.
There are so many preconceived labels and diets nowadays that people feel like they need to follow in order to lose or maintain weight, be their “healthiest” self and so on…it’s exhausting. What I’ve learned through all this is the importance of letting go of labels and nourishing your body with unrefined whole foods and simple ingredients. That’s ultimately what’s most important—whether that’s all plants or a combination of plants and high quality animal protein.
One thing to keep in mind is the importance of buying and eating high quality animal protein. Looking for words like “pasture-raised,” “grass-fed,” and “wild.” What you may not realize is you ultimately eat what the animal eats (plus the idea of chickens cooped up in tight indoor corridors is super depressing!) Unfortunately, lots of American farms inject animals with hormones and antibiotics and don’t let animals graze in their natural outdoor habitat. Buying local also reduces our environmental footprint! Two farms that I trust and ship nationwide are Grass Roots Coop and Butcher Box. Their ground beef and chicken are on another level! Plus Butcher Box also has amazing wild salmon.
So while yes, you will most likely find me eating mostly plants since this is what I generally crave the most and feel my best on, there are days now where I just want a grass-fed burger with all the fixings. This time around, I don’t give it a second thought!