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Gwen’s March Challenge: A Meatless Month of March?

I’m dating a vegan.

He is quite wonderful, and often shares with me about his lifestyle and the benefits of not consuming meat products. He truly cares about what he puts in his body, and has an incredibly high level of compassion for animals.

His commitment to his lifestyle is truly inspiring. As I watched him, I thought, could I do this? Would I even want to be vegan?

The truth is… yes. In the past I have dabbled in altering my diet to be less animal-heavy. When I used to live in California a few years ago, my landlord was a hardcore vegetarian and didn’t allow meat in the house. I saw this as an opportunity and decided to go vegetarian (vegan wasn’t even on my radar back then). At the time, I had limited nutritional information. I soon realized I was eating my weight in bread, cheese (and donuts) to combat the feeling of missing something. Needless to say it was unsustainable and I ended up petering out and going back to meat. (The first thing I ate was a meat pie. OMG).

Flash forward to now… I have actively taken an interest in nutrition. I know of things like quinoa and lentils and tempeh and tofu… sources of protein that can replace meat.

So when I heard of the ‘Meatless March’ challenge on Instagram, I thought I’d try it out! Not only was I hoping to feel mo’ progress health-wise, I was also interested in saving a few bucks (as meat typically costs more than vegetarian options).

WEEK 1 & 2:

OVERALL: I gahdamn crushed it. No cravings for meat. No interest in meat. I was flying high on success.

FEELING: I realize I started a ‘diet’ at the same time I started a new job. At the end of each day, I felt quite drained, though chocked it up to the fast pace of my new lifestyle and learning so much each day that my brain needed a break. I also realized towards the end of week two, that although I wasn’t craving meat, I was eating waaaaay too many grains and my stomach kinda hurt most of the time.

WEEK 3:

OVERALL: I missed meat. I was proud of myself for giving it up, but at work (where we have catered lunches #yesiknowimlucky) I was sad to pass by the chicken and fish.

FEELING: I felt like I was missing out. I also realized I would feel hungry almost right after I ate lunch. This was a bizarre feeling. I realize I started eating more sugar, and reaching for things I never ate before like Pop Tarts and Diet Coke to fill a gap of cravings.

WEEK 4:

OVERALL: I caved this week. There was one day where I felt like complete poop. I felt sooo drained of life force energy. I tried everything. Water. Coffee. Fruit. Meditation. Walks. Nothing I could think of was helping to alleviate the drained feeling. I figured I was missing some serious nutrients (probably Vitamin B). So late in the afternoon that day, I went on a mission to get some meat. I got chicken shawarma and ate it alone, while trying to bring my body back to life.

FEELING: A little defeated, but proud of myself for doing whatever it took to feel a bit better. I don’t know if it was subconscious or what, but as soon as I ate that shawarma I started to feel life coming back into me.

WEEK 5:

OVERALL: I hadn’t succeeded in the challenge, so I ate meat once or twice this week.

FEELING: This week I suffered from a major burnout at work. On Week 4, I started to feel some serious pressure at work (all self-imposed of course) and it led to burning out this week. It kinda felt like adrenal fatigue. I couldn’t drink coffee without wanting to yack. I felt truly exhausted on every level. This doesn’t have to do with meat, I don’t think… I just believe it has to do with so many changes happening in life and me ignoring the small signs to take better care of myself.

To sum up, I was unable to successfully complete my meatless March challenge, though I’m incredibly proud of myself for living almost entirely vegan for 20 days. My hat is definitely OFF to people to live life this way. It’s definitely an adjustment and take quite a bit of self-compassion when you give into the cravings.

If this challenge interests you, I recommend starting with Meatless Monday or taking meat out of one meal a day before going alllll in!

Thank you for reading and happy eating!

-Gwen

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