The antismoking guru Allen Carr patented a celebrated technique of jettisoning cigarettes,whereby readers of his book were urged to puff as much as possible until they reached the end.The idea being by the time you gave up, you were so fed up with the damn things, it was a reliefto stop.
In the run-up to Christmas, I decided to put this theory into practice, but replacing cigarettes withmeat.
One evening, I dispatched 12 chipolatas with only tomatoes and half a baguette as anaccompaniment. On December 25, I swallowed eight bloody slices of venison haunch. By BoxingDay, I was eating cold turkey thickly layered between bacon and chased down with hunks offridge-cold unseasoned sausage meat.
As the clock counted down on New Year's Eve, I made one final desperate grab for a party buffetchicken drumstick. That grey, slimy meat was to be my last. For the entirety of 2017, I will govegetarian.
Now, as I am learning in the world of meat-dodgers, distinctions matter; so let me get those out ofthe way first.
Unlike many others, I am not going all the way. According to Google, "veganism" was the mostsearched dietary trend of 2016, and the bone-gnashingly named "Veganuary" is well under wayin Britain. But I'm planning a soft Brexit from the world of meat, so my vegetarianism will includeeggs, milk and cheese.
Oh, and fish. To some, this makes me a fraud or, at best, a flexitarian - aterm coined for part-time veggies who follow a mostly plant-based diet,with the occasional foray into white meat (just so you have a few optionswhen you dine out).
So 2017 will be a rather tentative step into the virtuous circle of lentil andchickpea, in which the NHS estimates two per cent of the British population exists.
I am choosing to avoid meat for a year, for now, because this makes me less likely to fail. And Iam deciding not to call myself a pescatarian because, well, it just sounds so worthy and I hopestill to be invited to the odd dinner party.
Last week, the environmental protest group Peta replaced every single advert in ClaphamCommon tube station with posters promoting veganism. "I'm me, not meat" ran the slogan underphotographs of glossy pigs and cows.
But difficulty with the concept of consuming another animal's flesh is not why I am stopping. Nor,in truth, is it a particular concern over animal welfare.
My work as a journalist once took me to an intensive pig farm where sows were crammed intometal pens and ammonia stung my eyes. Last year, I also encountered a pig abattoir whilewalking through an unlovely stretch of the Northamptonshire countryside. From a distance, itsounded like children at play. Only when we came closer to the corrugated metal green shed didwe realise it was animals screaming for their lives.
Still, though, I kept eating bacon sandwiches (and will miss them dearly). It is guilt over what ourlivestock does when it is alive, rather than how it is killed, that I feel the most keenly.
There are health benefits to giving up meat; supposedly lowering the risk of cancer anddementia. My reasons, though, are environmental.
It is a totally unsustainable situation whereby humans are the most populous mammals on earth,at 7.4 billion, followed by cows (1.5 billion), sheep (1.1 billion), pigs (1 billion) and goats (860million). A global livestock count in 2011 recorded 14 billion chickens.
At the same time, the world is on track to lose two thirds of its wild animals by 2020. A keyreason for this is habitat loss to agriculture. As well as gobbling up land, cattle herds cause asizeable chunk of global emissions through the methane they produce.
The United Nations published a 400-page report on livestock in 2006 claiming agriculture isresponsible for 18 per cent of the total release of greenhouse gases worldwide. The reportconcluded that unless drastic changes are made, the massive damage done by livestock willmore than double by 2050.
Obviously, I am still feeding myself on the dairy industry. But the meat, not the milk, is the maindriver behind the expansion of herds.
Aquaculture has a similar impact. According to the World Wildlife Fund for Nature, more than 85per cent of the world's fisheries have been pushed to or beyond their biological limit byoverfishing. The bounceback of North Sea cod gives me greater hope of the ocean's ability toreplenish. Or at least makes me feel better about eating it.
So what will I miss? Steaks, barbecues and jelly-rich pork pies. My wife, only an occasional meateater, isn't joining me in going the full hog and I will also miss cooking - and devouring - a Sundayroast chicken together.
Already, though, I am finding satisfying alternatives: halloumi chargrilled with a lemon squeezedover the top, a thick lentil dal, baked macaroni cheese ... all fill the meaty void.
I am also enjoying my increased guilt-free intake of potatoes and nuts. And, perhaps mostsmugly, the fact I am now thinking more about what I am putting into my stomach and how it willaffect my body.
I'll make it through this year and hopefully longer than that. And in the dark days I'll rememberAllen Carr, and that scarfing a dozen sausages in one sitting really wasn't worth it.