What is Meatless March? Well, it’s exactly what the name says it is – for the entire month of March you go meatless, which means eating no flesh of any land animal. This means eating no beef, pork, chicken, lamb, etc., and yea, no bacon too. However, you can eat seafood, eggs, and dairy but no meat or products containing meat. Basically, you are doing a combination of a pescatarian and lacto-ovo vegetarian diet. Going meatless does not make you a vegetarian, as true vegetarians do not eat animals, including seafood, eggs or dairy. (And yes, I know it’s April, but I want to share my experience of Meatless March with you and I couldn’t write this blog until it was over and I had time to reflect.)
I decided to take on Meatless March because I wanted to experience eating no meat for an entire month. Sometimes I do Meatless Mondays but that’s no big deal as there are days I go meatless without even deliberately trying. It just occurs naturally for me. Going meatless for a whole month is more of a challenge, and a change.
I also decided to take on this challenge because I want to make another healthy lifestyle change and statement to factory farming. I want to omit industrial-raised meat out of my diet and incorporate only pasture-raised animals, preferably from local responsible farmers. This is important to me as I know how tainted and unhealthy the meat is from factory farms, and most often the animals are treated with so much cruelty (watch W5’s ‘Food for Thought’ part 1 and part 2 by clicking here). Our food system is a mess but it’s not going to get better until people start making powerful choices at the consumer level. Laws and regulations are in favour of making money and not in favour of the welfare of the people, animals, or the environment. So instead of writing letters and protesting with signs, I aim to hit them where it hurts the most – the pocket book. Money is powerful! If you can’t have your own farm and feed yourself, then put your money in the hands of the right people who will feed you better and act responsibly. That’s how you keep and create power, and a better world, from your money after it leaves your pocket. If everyone would do this, I can guarantee you that the change you want to see in this world would happen a hell of a lot faster.
Okay, so here’s what I discovered about myself and this challenge:
1) Omitting meat is easier than I thought. Actually, it was no big deal, and I didn’t even miss it.
2) Cooking was easier and quicker. With no meat served as a main dish, I cut out time spent on preparing and cooking it. Meals were ready sooner.
3) Going meatless was so much cheaper. That was a nice bonus.
4) I had no problems finding meatless dishes to eat when I ate at restaurants. There were a ton of meatless options to choose from but the key was to go to a restaurant, not a fast food joint, as fast food joints suck for meatless meal options.
5) I had no problem eating meatless when invited for dinner in the homes of family and friends. There were always lots of options. Yes, I let them know I was meatless but it was never a concern or taken as an insult not to eat any meat they may have prepared.
6) I experimented with different ways of cooking vegetables. For example, I had never thought of splitting brussel sprouts in half and frying them. Yummers! The experimentation in the kitchen was very rewarding and fun.
7) There is no shortage of ideas and recipes for meatless dishes. The internet is packed full. But to be honest, I created most of my meals from my head. Cooking has to be fun, interesting, and creative if you want to make your meals from scratch, eat healthy, and enjoy it. Shoving a processed dish in the microwave or oven is NOT cooking, and it’s not healthy eating either! Eat real food made from scratch as it is one of the top things you can do to create a healthier body.
8) I never went hungry, like people thought I would. I had no shortage of food and lots of variety.
9) I had no more or less cravings for sugar or junk. I eat healthy in general so my body gets what it needs daily. There is no real need for me to crave anything, except a beer or glass of wine. Right?
10) I mustn’t forget to mention that making meatless meals was easy for my family. My boyfriend and my son did not do the challenge with me. However, it wasn’t difficult to go meatless because if I made meat with supper for them, I just didn’t eat it and instead piled up on the veggies and grains. And some meals I made, I never mentioned the word meatless, and they ate what I ate, like 3 bean chilli or caesar salad with salmon. So as far as juggling family meals on this challenge, it wasn’t a concern and it gives no good reason for anyone not to do this challenge.
1) I became very bloated the first 7-10 days of the challenge. I actually gained about 5 lbs in that short of time. I couldn’t poop. It wasn’t fat, it was fibre. I already eat a fibre rich diet but adding more whole grains on a regular basis in place of the meat really did a doozy on me. I am not a daily whole grain eater but I needed something to help fill the gap while doing the Meatless March challenge. In hindsight, I should have eaten more veggies and fruit and less grains. But that’s part of the learning process. If I kept eating this way, I’m sure I would have eventually figured out everything that would work for me. Anyway, after the bloating subsided and I got back to my regular pooping routine, the bloating subsided, my weight went back to normal, and everything was good. I also should mention I didn’t lose weight during meatless March, but that wasn’t a goal anyway.
2) Fish can be more expensive than meat, if you want quality that is, and I am spoiled being raised a fisherman’s daughter, and so I want quality. I ate seafood during meatless March but no more than what I usually do, which isn’t as often I’d like. Seafood is my fav!
So that’s how my Meatless March all went down. I learned some cool things, gained a new experience, made a stand for things I believe in, and initiated change for my personal beliefs. If you have never done a Meatless March I urge you to try it. As I said, it’s not difficult. Besides, it’s a good thing to do, for many reasons – health, creativity, environmental, and opens the mind. When you are trying to adapt a healthier lifestyle you have to be open to new ideas. Otherwise how do you change your habits? If you aren’t willing to try something new, then you will continue to be stuck in the rut. You always have a choice. I choose to be adventurous. It’s how I learn, how I change, and it makes life interesting.