Could you live without meat?
For 28 years of my life, I had no interest in finding out the answer to that question.
I was quite content with eating meat two or three times per day.
A typical day would be eggs for breakfast, grilled chicken for lunch and a ground beef based dish like tacos or spaghetti for dinner.
And of course….bacon 🥓: it would ideally be on all the things all the time.
No animal (or it’s milks) were safe from me.
This is the way I grew up and it was serving me well. I felt perfectly content with this diet.
“Wait...you’re a vegan?”
But then...it happened: I met a vegan man.
And I liked him. A lot.
After three months of dating, I liked him enough that I was willing to try an experiment to see why he chose to live his life without eating animal products.
I had heard of the #MeatlessMarch challenge, and thought ‘why not suffer (ahem *detox*) and try it out for the month.
I went into the challenge with an open-mind and a genuine interest in learning if it was possible for me to live this way.
I Failed Meatless March within a Week
I’ll get to the punchline: I had a spectacular failure with this challenge.
Within days, I had a moment where I needed a chicken shawarma.
I recall leaving work after lunch and found myself speed walking to the shawarma place down the street.
I ordered the chicken shawarma with a slight twinge of embarrassment for failing so fast, though when I took a bite of soft yet crispy chicken smothered in sauces, I felt a relief that was indescribable.
I felt like alive again.
After that experience, I decided to scrap the challenge altogether and chock it up as a learning experience; I’m not meant to be plant based.
What happened? Getting Curious About Failure
Before trying the #MeatlessMarch challenge I had watched just enough YouTube videos and Netflix documentaries to feel frustrated with failing.
I was excited to see the type of results people were getting from switching to a plant based diet including:
Losing that last ten pounds
Clearing mental fog
No longer feeling bloated all the time
I wanted all of that. I also learned that plant-based people saved money, saved animals lives, and had a lesser impact on the environment. That all sounded great!
So I decided to let curiosity win, and I kept diving deep into the studies about veganism. I decided to keep making small changes to my diet, and a couple months later I went ALL IN on a plant-based diet.
3 Mistakes I Made with the Meatless March Challenge
It’s not by chance that I struggled with the #MeatlessMarch challenge.
I made some rookie mistakes and I'm sharing them with you so you can hopefully have a more enjoyable experience.
Mistake #1: Quitting ‘Cold Turkey’
What a pun 🦃.
When I started the challenge I had been eating meat two to three times per day. So I suddenly shifted to zero meat intake, my body clicked into high alert.
I didn’t realize my body would actually need to detox from meat, similar to how it feels to detox from coffee or alcohol (I can assure you both detoxes are horrible).
Dr. Michael Klaper, an internationally recognized authority on plant based diets shares a compelling explanation of how we get dependent on a ‘flesh (ugh) based diet’ from infanthood and it may be easier to wean ourselves off of meat instead of suddenly quitting.
Check out the 05:58 mark:
Mistake #2: Not Eating Enough Calories
One of the joys of a whole foods, plant based diet is it’s about abundance, not scarcity.
You’re encouraged to eat more to fill your caloric needs, not limit the amount of fresh vegetables, fruits, legumes, grains etc. that you can eat!
When I first stopped eating meat, I ate basically the same amount of vegetables and removed the meat. This was a mistake. I felt like I starving most of the time.
Mistake #3: Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Fun fact: asking a vegan ‘where do you get your protein?’ is the wrong question.
Protein is found in all plants. Elephants, rhinos and cows seem to do just fine growing to weigh hundreds or thousands of pounds on a plant-based diet.
And how often do you hear someone died or fell ill due to a protein deficiency? I have yet to meet someone who has experienced this problem.
Personally I believe I suffered from a vitamin B12 deficiency. Vitamin B12 is essential for the health of our blood and bone marrow, as well as nervous system, brain, and spinal cord (who knew)?
The problem is that B12 is naturally found in microorganisms living in soil and water. With modern vegetable and water harvesting, the micro organisms don’t make it past the sterilization processes. In today’s food, we get our B12 fortified via animals food. Animals do not make it themselves.
So when I took out animal products, I was cutting my B12 supply.
To make matters worse at the time I was drinking a ton of coffee (which leaches minerals and vitamins from your body) and taking a horrible birth control pill which I later found out had a side effect of making me lose B12.
So the dizziness and overall illness I felt (that lead to the emergency shawarma) made so much sense.
My #1 Tip to Succeed with Your Meatless March Challenge
So how do you succeed on this challenge? I have enough tips for another whole blog post, so I’ll leave you with my best tip.
Tip #1: Educate yourself.
The only reason I’m happily vegan today was due to my interest and willingness to learn.
I was open to learning uncomfortable information (that we may not need to eat animal products to be happy and healthy) and test it out in my life.
It was not easy at the beginning, though two years later, it’s absolutely incredible.
Here are two resources I recommend you check out to kickstart your learning:
1. The ‘What the Health’ Trailer or documentary:
After watching, choose a doctor who resonated with you and dive deep into their research.
2. Check out MinimalistBaker.com. Here you’ll find easy to make plant-based recipes.
Also, if you want to formally join the #MeatlessMarch challenge you can go to http://nomeatmarch.com to take the pledge!
Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed this article, I’d appreciate it if you shared with a friend or family member who could benefit from testing out #MeatlessMarch in their life!