My Carnivorous Path to Vegetarianism
by Mark Wuttke
Like many Americans, Australians tend to be large red meat eaters. Born and raised there, I was no exception. As I grew older, eating red meat was more than dietary; it became a part of my lifestyle. I loved nothing better than to be outdoors around a grill with family and friends, typically with a glass of red wine in my hand.
After moving to the United States in 2001, I continued my lifelong dietary habits which included beef, buffalo, lamb, and cured meats such as prosciutto. In July 2005 while on vacation, I suddenly felt a pain in my lower back, very close to my coccyx — my tailbone. Having suffered a few back injuries during my Aussie Rules Football days, I surmised that the bone-jarring abuse my body endured as a teen was coming back to roost.
After putting up with the pain for several weeks, I decided to consult my doctor. Much to my surprise, I was diagnosed with a severely enlarged prostate. This was a shock as I was only 40 years old and associated that condition with more mature men. After a physical and PSA blood test to screen for prostate cancer, I was relieved that the test results came back benign.
At the time of my diagnosis and for a period immediately following the tests, anxiety kicked in and I lost my appetite for most food, including red meat. Interestingly, in the days that followed, the back pain subsided and eventually disappeared. Other than curtailing my eating and abstaining from wine, nothing else changed.
Curious, I asked my doctor why this might have occurred. He had no plausible explanation. I lacked closure on the topic which made me feel uneasy. But because, I was feeling better, I got on with life and resumed my normal dietary habits. Over the next week, the pain started to come back. Puzzled, I played back my week in my mind, asking myself questions: When did I feel the pain most? What was I doing? Then it dawned on me. The pain had intensified was after enjoying an outdoor grill of medium-rare beef or lamb accompanied by a glass of red wine.
So I decided to experiment. I would stop eating meat and drinking wine for a few days, and then resume my former habits. Well, I only had to do this for a couple weeks and my greatest fear was confirmed. Every time I ate medium- to-rare red meat with a glass of wine, the pain came back. When I abstained from both, the pain disappeared. I asked myself how this could possibly be .I really didn’t want this to be true. I couldn’t see life without these favorite lifestyle choices.
I spoke to my doctor who still regarded it as just a coincidence. However, he wisely advised me to listen to my body. I did, and reluctantly gave up eating red meat. In fact, I gave up white meat as well but continued to consume seafood, primarily fish.
Nearly eight years later, I am virtually a vegetarian, though I will eat small portions of fish, seafood and, occasionally, poultry…but never red meat. I have not been diagnosed with BPH since and have never felt better at nearly 50. And though I still enjoy outdoor cooking and dining with family and friends, I fill my plate with grilled veggies accompanied by a glass of wine…and enjoy them. Call it coincidence, call it what you want to. I think of it as a wake-up call that forced me to get back in touch with my body and give it permission to heal.
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Mark Wuttke heads the Wuttke Group, LLC, a business development team with a focus on sustainable luxury, spa, boutique retail, organic luxury and the emerging category of eco-chic. He is a globally-recognized authority in sustainable retail beauty products and he oversees brand development and distribution strategy for Primavera Life’s Amala and Primavera brands.