Our week 2 challenge of giving up meat (and fish) and/or sweets (candy and desserts) came to a close last Friday. Overall, four of us went meatless, while six gave up sweets, including two brave souls who gave up both. Early in the week, there was some trepidation over how things would go—especially among the meat people, who weren’t quite sure what to expect, including the dudes in the group who wondered if their macho-meter would drop below its desired level. In the end, the challenge was more difficult for some than others. But everyone, no matter what they’d given up, seemed to come away learning something.
Here are some thoughts and observations from the week:
- The first few days were tough as people tried to get used to it—breaking old habits is hard to do. By midweek, some people became more comfortable, and even had fun as they started seeing the benefits of their sacrifice. For others, however, things seemed to get harder and harder as the week went on—and desperation set in (I think I saw Tim googling photos of steak).
- Advanced planning seemed to help a lot. Stocking up on meatless food choices and alternatives to sugary sweets was key to surviving the week without making impulsive decisions. (Maureen was already in the DQ parking lot before she remembered that an ice cream cone wasn’t an option.)
- Several of the carnivores felt hungry often. In spite of the vast number of meatless options out there, many of the newbies didn’t have the knowledge and habits in place to fully plan for the challenge. They were left having to find quick solutions to going meatless—like filling up on grilled cheese sandwiches and onion rings (stuff they wouldn’t normally eat, but clearly enjoyed having a good excuse to do so). Even though the sweets-deprived people had the occasional struggle giving up their thing, it was the meatless folks who were confronted with the challenge at every meal.
- Giving up meat brought a higher level of awareness about the wide range of vegetarian and meatless food options are out there these days. From grocery store items, to menu choices at restaurants, people were somewhat surprised at all the good stuff there was to choose from (Fred and Beth both said they’d order The Loop’s veggie burger again on their own free will).
- The highlight of the week came on Thursday morning when Danette and Beth made a stop at the Herbivorous Butcher in NE Minneapolis to buy some meatless “meat” snacks for the group to share. We had a blast taste-testing things like pepperoni, pork, jerky, and dairy-free cheese (made with cashews!).
Overall, the No Meats Or Sweets Challenge did what it was supposed to do—push people in new ways—not just to test their discipline, but also to experience a different way of life for a few days. In spite of the occasional whining and struggling, everyone seemed to come away with a new perspective—and the urge to eat a burger on the 4th of July.