Truth be told, my overall relationship with alcohol has been for the most part responsible and purely romantic. I mean sure I drank a few more than I should have in college, but when I had to put on my big boy pants and start a career, it wasn’t difficult to know my limits. I enjoyed my one or two microbrews with most dinners and treated it the same as fine wine, pairing it with the meal appropriately.
My all time favorite beer? That’s definitely a close tie between a Pinkus Hefe-Weizen and an Ayinger Bräuweisse. Deutschland brews that follow German Purity Beer Laws are unmatched in flavor in my opinion and since they’re not soaring in ABV, I could have a couple without feeling lit.
When I relocated to Tulsa, Oklahoma I started brewing beer in my apartment. This is perhaps the moment I began to understand the art, ethics, and real connection to nature beer has. My first batch was a pale ale, I went rogue on the recipe and through in some citrus peels at the last minute in the brewing stage just to see what happens. Alcohol level bumped up a hair and flavor went through the roof. I was king of the stoop during that time, as I handed them out like free lemonade to all my apartment neighbors on hot summer days. Beer to me is a gift, a means of connectivity to nature, and an easy path to friendship to almost anyone.
So why quit?
Here’s my story. In 2020 I got some blood work done and came to find out my cholesterol was trending high. Ironically you don’t have to be visibly overweight to be unhealthy. I was clearly within a normal weight limit and the rest of my chart was perfect. However, with my cholesterol, as my doctor put it “eat a few less cheeseburgers and start exercising more”. I took his word for it.
Now grant it, I’m in my 30’s and far-far away from the risk of a heart attack. But why wait until I’m at the brink before I get myself into gear? This sort of segways back to an original post where I decided to do a complete 180 on many aspects of my lifestyle. Part of that was my diet, another was alcohol consumption. While light to moderate drinking doesn’t effect cholesterol levels much, it does a little, which was enough for me to at least consider cutting it out.
So did I hit the kill switch? You better believe it. Here’s how I did it and why I’m glad I did after a couple of months without a lick of alcohol.
First off, let’s do some math shall we! If I drank beer from the age of 23 until 36, averaged 1.75 drinks per day, minus an annual 30-day fast (something I did ritually just to keep myself in check), that comes to about 7,600 beers. Or in other words, nearly 50 kegs. That’s a lot of freaking beer if you think about it! I’ve more than drank my weight and shouldn’t be too sad to just let that ship sail off into the sunset (in a burning inferno).
So how easy was it to quit? I just stopped, plain and simple. I drank more water, tea, and coffee, and hardly missed it. After about 2 months, here’s 5 ways it changed me and then what I learned about the environmental benefit of not drinking.
1. I STARTED SLEEPING BETTER
I went to bed earlier, got up less in the middle of the night, and woke up naturally without an alarm clock. I felt more rested which means I was a little more alert and had more energy throughout the day.
2. I LOST WEIGHT
I expected to thin out a little, but didn’t expect to drop nearly 10 lbs so quickly. Given my size, this wasn’t something I needed to do, however with my new found extra energy I started working out and exercising a lot more, which helped me gain some muscle mass and put back on a few healthy pounds.
3. MY SKIN LOOKED BETTER
While most people assume red flushed skin is only associated with excessive drinkers, even a little alcohol can have the same effect. When I cut alcohol out of my diet and replaced it with more water, my skin started looking a little healthier, less flushed and less wrinkly. Since I’ve also changed my diet to more plant-based, the skin benefits were compounded.
4. STRESS MANAGEMENT IMPROVED NOTICEABLY
This one was a bit of a curve ball because I’m generally a happy and positive guy already. But my ability to handle stressful situations in the workplace improved even more after kicking the can. Not completely sure if its the lack of alcohol or just my new hyper-focused discipline that’s making me even more positive and stress-free, but I started noticing a difference after about two weeks.
5. MORE TIME TO DO OTHER THINGS
If coffee is an upper, alcohol is a downer. So even with just a small glass of wine, you generally just want to chill out, and pumping iron or cycling 15 miles is out of the question. When I cut out alcohol, I found myself in the home gym every night working out hella crazy and I also started reading and writing more too. Netflix rarely gets flipped on these days as well.
THE ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS OF NOT DRINKING
It didn’t require much research to learn how cutting out alcohol helps the environment. But let me start off by saying the ethics of brewing beer and making wine is phenomenally beautiful and fair to the environment, and many breweries and wineries are moving toward net-zero with their carbon footprint. Plus growing grape vines, hops, and other ingredients used for alcohol manufacturing helps clean the air and contributes to saving the bee population. So I’m in no way attacking this industry, in fact I praise it.
With all that being said, scattered across several landfills throughout the world are over 7,000 empty cans and bottles of beer because of me. I did recycle more in the later years, but for the most part they ended up in trash cans and that’s not cool at all. Multiply that by a few billion drinkers, it’s colossal. Perhaps the partial answer is to only drink from the tap at a bar or bring home a reusable growler. This would eliminate the waste problem at least, although the carbon discharged from factories and delivery trucks is still something to consider.
I’m now convinced in a perfect world, all we would drink is purified tap water that’s drawn straight from the sink into reusable bottles. It sounds painfully boring just hearing it, but literally the world could have water for eternity with this system in place and the “single use” epidemic would be history. But let’s be real, we all have to get our kicks every now and then to stay sane, whether it’s a latte or a 6-pack of beer. But I’m definitely enjoying the benefits of this new direction in my life nonetheless and encourage anyone to give it a go if you’ve been tracking on the same wavelength.