I have always toyed with the idea of not eating meat, becoming vegetarian or pescatarian, or vegan altogether. In late August 2020 I went an entire week without consuming any meat. The catalyst for this experiment was my experience at a vegan brunch the Saturday immediately before my little experiment began. Not only did the vegan brunch, and the discussions that ensued there, renewed my thoughts about giving up meat for the long term, but I left with a deeper desire to be more conscious about what I put into my body. So, for one week I did not eat meat, and here is what I learnt.
You do not need to have a plan
Most people may think that not eating meat means having to preplan all of their meals so that they would know what they would eat each day. I don’t think everyone needs to have a concrete plan. Part of the “fun” of this experiment was not knowing exactly what I would eat on a daily basis. In fact, I deliberately “winged it” to see if despite not having a plan if I would still survive the week. I suppose it would have been helpful to have a plan on those days when I was not sure what I would eat and I would have likely needed some sort of plan if my little experiment lasted for more than one week. However, I do not think having a plan is absolutely necessary. I was able to think of a few healthy meal ideas, like stewed beans, and steamed vegetables (seasoned to taste) with potatoes.
You cannot be lazy
You really do have to make an effort to ensure that you stick to your goals because it is easy to fall back to your old ways. You will probably have to cook more if restaurants in your area have little to no vegetarian options. I find that most restaurants, unless it is a vegetarian or vegan one, only have salad, soup and some kind of pasta on their menu for vegetarians to choose from. So you cannot be lazy. You may have to prepare your own meals. Thankfully there’s a plethora of meal ideas on the internet. Have fun and explore a little.
You will need willpower
There will be those who will question your decision to not eat meat. They may even try to get you to consume it, despite knowing your stance on it, which is unfortunate. However, like I learnt, if you are serious about not eating meat, you have the willpower not to do so. Just say no to that person. If you did not know before, you will realise how powerful the word no.
You may also miss having meat. Not everyone can change a habit cold turkey. Thankfully, I think I can and I was not tempted to give meat a try, even when the aroma of the food caressed the innermost part of my nostrils. I simply reminded myself of my goal to not consume meat and I was able to not think about eating it.
You will need support
With that said, you will need those close to you to be understanding and supportive. Even if they are not on your journey, they should be able to support your efforts and encourage you. My hubby did not join in my experiment so that meant preparing two separate meals. Thankfully what I ate during that week was also part of his meal. We pretty much ate the same things (e.g. rice and beans and veggies), except he had meat while i did not.
You can do it!
Many people will tell you that it would be hard for them to go meatless even for one week. I used to think so too, but that was years ago before I had tasted any flavourful meatless dishes. A time where I assumed that being vegan or vegetarian meant having to eat salads only.
I did not have a plan yet I still manged to not have meat for the entire week and only dined out once. I usually have a good stock of fruits and vegetables so that also helped to keep me full and nourished. That way, I was never left feeling hungry or irritable.
You will love the results
I am not going to lie to you and say that I am suddenly overflowing with energy. I am however, feeling lighter. I also felt less bloated after meals. I appreciate that one week without meat may not be a huge effort, but we all know our limits and if I could go meatless for even that short period of time, and not miss eating meat, I know it is something that I could do in the long term.
Have you ever gone meatless before? If you are vegetarian, vegan or pescatarian how easy or difficult was it for you to make the switch?