Originally posted on February 24, 2011 by John Dessauer
This week was the culmination of the second challenge that Heather and I have participated in since the first of the year. You might remember our first challenge was to go to a service at each one of the five major religions. You can see my blog The Bias of Religion.
The second challenge was to go without eating any meat or fish for 30 days. That might not seem like a very tough challenge for some of you, but for Heather and I it at first seemed easier to climb Mt. Everest! Meat has been a part of our lives for a long time. Meat has pretty much been the staple of our meals since we were both infants.
The first week was the hardest! Knowing that each meal was going to be without meat was a very tough thing. Until I realized that there was a whole world of food that I was ignoring due to the fact that things such as beef and chicken were pretty much the superstars of my plate. Then when you throw in pork, “fagetaboutit!” why would I want to eat anything else?
I had not really ever paid attention to things like vegetables, beans and things like humus and tofu. I never had to think about what I was eating as much as I have during this challenge. I think that is what made the challenge actually fun. I actually had to think about what I was eating and now become creative with what I was eating.
That was my first “ah ha” moment with this challenge. We get into a rut with the way we eat, by the habitual buying and eating of pretty much the same things. If you journal what you have ate during the last month, you probably would find that you have eaten the same 8-10 things, just made in different ways. Primarily, most people eat the same things over and over. Some of the things are probably some type of beef, chicken and pork. Can you name any of the others?
My second moment of clarity was the fact that it is other people give you a hard time for going vegetarian. I’m not quite sure if this is a Midwest thing or something else at work here. Every time I had mentioned to someone that I was going vegetarian for a month I either got strange looks or a smart-ass comment like “what would you do that for?”
I guess it’s true that people do not like it when people do things other than the norm or different than what they do. (I have never been one to conform, anyway!) As the month went on, I found myself talking more to people about the fact that I was going meatless for a month. About two and a half weeks into it, the meatless life was starting to win me over.
Definitely during the third week I realized something remarkable. I felt better and had more energy. This was something that I never expected. I had more energy in my daily activities and just felt better all around. I can attribute this I believe to two things. First, I think your body works harder to digest meat. Two, the hormones and antibiotics that go into the meat that we eat are not good for us and make us not feel as good as we should. By the way, did you know that half of the antibiotics that are made today go into the farm animals that we eat?
I also felt full more throughout the day. I did not feel like I was starving myself in any way. I actually felt like I was more in control of my eating than at any other time in my life!
Finally, I lost about 7 pounds in the process. I don’t totally think it’s because I didn’t eat meat that that happened. I think I lost the pounds because I was more conscientious of what I was eating. And that’s the thing for me that I was so excited about. It was my “on purpose” eating habits that I had newly acquired. I was being more selective for better food for me and I actually tasted new things that I was totally missing out on.
I would totally recommend this challenge for anyone. It was great for me to learn about will power, new foods and “on purpose” eating. I have decided to make fish a regular part of my diet and only have beef, chicken or pork one day of the week. I think if you take this challenge you will learn some great things too. The cattle, chickens and pigs will thank you!
“Remember, wealth has nothing to do with money, success has everything to do with failure, and life is as simple as you want to make it!”
– John Dessauer