I thought that it would be a nice challenge to stop eating fish and meat for a whole month. Now that the month has passed and my self-imposed challenge found an end, I realised that it was more difficult to deal with external factors than internal ones. This article covers insights I gained during my experiment and provides a recommendation for people who are interested in taking the same challenge.
When I studied economics at university I learned how demand and supply are interrelated. When people demand meat, the industry supplies it. In other words, every single meat consumer is responsible for the action of meat producers. After watching some documentaries about the cruelty surrounding the meat production in today’s world, I decided to change my eating habits. Nutrition is a very emotional topic and people feel easily offended when discussing changes. Everyone is on a different level of consciousness and tries its best from his or her own point of view and therefore, one should not change anyone.
Sophisticated Vegetarian Dishes
I feared that I would be limited by the number of dishes I could prepare but I could not be more wrong. There are endless vegetarian dishes one can prepare to substitute fish and meat dishes that show just how sophisticated plant-based cooking can be. I made some research to explore vegetarian recipes and found four great books: Thug Kitchen: Eat Like You Give a F**k by Thug Kitchen, Forks Over Knives – The Cookbook: Over 300 Recipes for Plant-Based Eating All Through the Year by Del Sroufe, The Oh She Glows Cookbook: Over 100 Vegan Recipes to Glow from the Inside Out Paperback by Angela Liddon and Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. What are your favorite vegetarian recipes?
Not Paying More
I follow a balanced nutrition plan and wanted to compensate for the loss of iron and protein found in fish and meat. When I checked the prices of spirulina, quinoa, cashews, almonds, walnuts, and other sources that are high in iron and protein at my local supermarket, I thought that I would end up paying slightly more money for food than in the previous month but I was wrong. The money is simply reallocated. Before the challenge, I bought organic and regional meat from trusted farmers instead of meat offered by discounters. I paid a premium price because I believe that the quality of meat should be more important than the quantity. During the challenge I stopped buying high priced fish and meat and started buying vegetables high in protein that were slightly more expensive. It leveled off.
During my research, I found a great method to increase the iron intake. Dr. Christopher Charles, inspired by previous research showing that cooking in cast iron pots increases the iron content in food, developed an iron fish that can be put into a cooking pot. Trials on several hundred villagers in one province in Cambodia showed that nearly half of those who took part had no longer a iron deficiency after 12 months. Read the article here.
During office hours, I am dependent on the campus restaurant at Mercedes-Benz. Luckily, it offers every day a vegetarian dish, however, sometimes it did not offer anything that suited my taste and I found myself at the salad bar. I found it sad that out of five dishes only one is vegetarian. The other ones always contain meat and when I went to other restaurants I often found very few vegetarian dishes. All this made me realise how meat-obsessed our culture is.
Accomplishing a short-term goal is not difficult and it motivates one to extend the experiment once the habit is formed. Meat is not a necessity for a healthy living. I survived the month without meat and I plan to drastically reduce eating fish and meat to once or twice a week and will stick to organic and regional meat from trusted farmers. When your campus restaurant does not offer vegetarian dishes, then try talking with the restaurant manager. If that does not help, then start a petition, bring your own vegetarian food to work, or simply go to a restaurant that offers vegetation dishes. I realised that it is possible to drastically reduce my meat and fish intake, while still being able to follow a rounded nutrition plan. Try out this one-month experiment and do not forget to document it and inspire others to join you.