From eating meat every day to Vegetarian for a month

As part of the 12Challenges, every month of 2020 we are off for a new challenge.
January was #GladietorDiet: eat vegetarian for a month.

Long story short, here what happened to me:

  • For the first couple of days, I was excited about the new change and hardly realised I was not eating meat nor fish.
  • 5–10 days: I was struggling to find any food that would satisfy my hunger, nothing that I could put in my sandwich would help me please my desire for meat. It absolutely felt like abstinence from some addiction.
  • 10–20 days: Slowly, I started finding some food that would appease my appetite. I did want to keep a balance in my diet, maintaining high % of proteins, and was difficult to find something that could substitute meat.
  • 20–30 days: I was still missing meat, but at the same time I started feeling slightly disgusted by it. I would find surprisingly weird seeing meat in plastic packages at the supermarket, and I fell incredibly clean and light throughout the day, the kind of feeling you get after a workout and a fresh shower.

Through all this, you need to keep in mind that I have been eating meat almost every meal of my life. Rarely I spent a day without eating meat, and most of those were due to other weird challenges I put myself through.

The weirdest thing about the #GladiatorDiet challenge was the feeling of be going through the abstinence from an addiction I long had. I have always thought I was addiction-free and no addiction could have possible threat me (even though there are many things I deeply enjoy). This was the first time in my life I realised that for +24 years I have been eating meat, constantly and continuously.

One could say that I have also been drinking water, eating vegetables, and sleeping (almost) every day of my life, but that no one would consider them addictions neither they should. So why am I referring to eating meat as an addiction? My best answer would be that eating meat is not necessary. Compared to all the other things I have listed, eating meat is the only one that one could never experience in his life, and live a perfectly healthy, good life (for as much as burger deprived it might be). I am not going to push it as far as Veganism, simply because I am not knowledgable enough to say anything about it.
As every good engineer/nerd I have done my fair amount of scientific reading about going Vegetarian before actually doing it, and I have read some abstracts of some papers about going Vegan as well, but too little to gain an informed opinion.

Personally, the best part of this challenge is the realization of this addiction I had. Independently on how I will act on it in the future, I am glad I got to discover this “weakness” of mine.

The most surprising bit, was realising that I started feeling disgusted by meat. ME? DISGUSTED BY MEAT? My mouth would start watering whenever I would see a steak, and now I’m kind of feeling like there is something wrong with eating meat? That was extremely surprising and pleasantly curious. I find it very interesting to discover unexpected behaviours of mine that I could not anticipate.

Curiously, after about 3 weeks of my new diet, I started to fell lighter and generally better. Was it due to the mystical effects of getting rid of meat from my meals? Was it due to the excitement of just starting a new year of Challenges? Was it all placebo? No idea, I’ll leave it to you to try it.

My takeaways:

  • Either for its environmental impact, for the surprise of self-discovery or simply for a change from a life-long habit, I believe everyone should try to go meat-free for some period of time. The more difficult it appears to you and the more eradicated this habit is in your life, the more I would encourage you to try it.
  • I did not realise what an effect eating meat had on me until I got rid of it. Even just gaining some perspective on the different options has been incredibly enriching for me.
  • I will definitely reduce the amount of meat I eat, and I will probably go more towards fish if I feel the need for some meaty product. I won’t give up having sushi, a burger, or a steak, but I will probably limit these for when I go out to eat, and I will stop buying meat at the supermarket. 50% of this choice is based on sustainability reasons, 50% on the fact that I felt better not eating meat.

Next month, we are meditating every day, 30 minutes a day, stay tuned to know how it’ll go.

Tanti baci, tanti abbracci,
Alla prossima sfida

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Federico Sanna

Autonomous Driving Systems Engineer at Arrival— Imperial College Bioengineering Graduate — 12challenges patient zero