Becoming a vegetarian was never something I’d wanted to do, despite growing up around lots of kids who had been veggie their entire lives.
I just couldn’t understand how people could go to restaurants and smell all the great foods, most of them with meat as the main ingredient, and pass on all those dishes.
Sweet and sour chicken, pepperoni pizza, roast lamb and Sunday dinner were all totally out of the question for vegetarians, and there was no way I was giving up the majority of my favorite meals.
A couple of months ago, one of my veggie friends shared a link on Facebook, and I ended up reading about the global Meatless Monday project which started back in 2003. It began in America but has managed to find its way around the globe to 44 different countries, including the UK.
As a rather health-conscious individual, I was shocked to find out how much your body can benefit from just one day a week without meat. So I decided to give Meatless Mondays a go for five weeks to see if I noticed any difference.
The first Monday was fairly easy since the whole idea of going meat-free was rather new. I saw it as a challenge and was pretty adamant that I would succeed at avoiding meat for the entire day.
Breakfast was a breeze – my usual apple and pear flavored porridge – no animals there. I went to work at the office and got my first shock when I realized I couldn’t order my usual chicken tikka Subway.
I spent an additional 5 minutes debating what I should get – steak, chicken and ham were all off the cards. I reluctantly went for a tuna sandwich, and swapped by usual BBQ beef crisps for a salt and vinegar variety.
For dinner I made a pasta bake with tomato sauce and cheese.
I was feeling positive when the second Monday began, especially since I’d had a huge turkey dinner at my parents house the day before and couldn’t even imagine eating any more meat or stuffing.
I took a packed lunch to work with me – cheese and pickle sandwiches with an orange and a banana. When I got home that evening, I was ready to murder a chicken pizza from Domino’s, but after browsing the menu, opted for the vegetarian pizza instead (which turned out to be rather delicious and is now my second favorite).
I got chatting to a couple of my veggie friends over the weekend and they gave me some amazing recipes to try, so I was very excited to wake up on Monday morning and prepare myself a veggie lunch.
After my morning run, I fried a couple of eggs (and definitely shed a tear or two over the lack of bacon) to put on my toast.
Despite my friend’s attempts to persuade me to take a mackerel salad to work, I couldn’t put my colleagues through the smell of fish for the day, so I left out the mackerel and took a large leafy salad, complete with croutons, olives, nuts and feta cheese.
In the mood for fish, I made my signature dish – a creamy tuna pasta bake with layers of my favorite cheddar cheese.
My body didn’t feel very different by the fourth week, which I was rather surprised about. Perhaps you’re not meant to feel any different until a few months in – especially since you’re only eating meat-free once a week.
I wasn’t feeling that great mentally either by this point – I had to get a 5 thousand dollar loan the previous week to see me through until my next pay check, and I couldn’t be bothered cooking much.
We had a meeting at work which involved sandwiches and other nibbles – as tempting as it was to try the bacon-filled quiche, I resisted and stuck with the egg and cress sandwiches.
When I got home, I ordered Pad Thai from a local takeaway and curled up with a good film and a tub of strawberry ice cream.
My last meat-free Monday! A breakfast of yogurt and fruit, a prawn cocktail sandwich for lunch – everything was going well.
That was until I remembered I had a date that night – at a Chinese restaurant! I strongly considered calling meatless Mondays quits at this point, but I couldn’t give up when I was so close to completing the challenge I’d set myself.
As difficult as it was to overlook the sweet and sour chicken dishes and crispy duck, I ordered some delicious salt and pepper king prawns and the most amazing noodles I’ve ever tasted. (Oh, and the date was charming too!)
All in all, I was pretty pleased with myself for doing five consecutive weeks of meatless Monday, and although I wouldn’t restrict myself on Mondays to stay away from meat, I’ve definitely had a few Mondays since where I’ve chosen the veggie option instead!