My 30-Day No Meat Challenge

by Kelvin Belfon

No-Meat-Challenge

I’ve been thinking about my meat consumption. Over the years, a few casual conversations, documentaries and books have caused me to question my food choices.

Here is a little personal background.

I grew up an omnivore. In Grenada I consumed fish, chicken, beef, pork, mutton, and lamb. Meat was the main part of every meal. One of my favorite dishes is curry chicken, rice and peas, fried plantains, and a side salad. Yum!

When I migrated to the United States I piled on more meat. As I got exposed to American favorites, I added those to my menu of choices hamburgers, steaks, turkeys, BBQs, and traditional island cuisines such as jerk chicken.

Because I am naturally skinny, I’ve never felt the need to pay much attention to the health risks involved in consuming too much meat. But lately, I’ve been doing some soul searching.

You see, our meat is not what it used to be.

This is the case in America as much as it is in the islands, which have seen a significant increase of imported meats. The animals we eat are injected with an alarming amount of hormones to increase production. Then there are factors of inhumane animals practices that I’ve learned about over the recent years. The treatment of animals raised for food is deeply troubling me.

The health reasons are also significant:

Like most American, I’ve maintained an arms length awareness about the risks of consuming too much meat. Giving up meat altogether is a difficult decision. There’s a certain emotional payoff that comes with meat eating especially when it’s a central part of celebrations and holidays. Also, in my mind, a dish without meat is incomplete. It’s a reminder to me of poor upbringings.

So My 30-Day No Meat Challenge is just as much a health challenge as much as it is a reshaping of how and what I think about meat. It’s a test of my personal boundaries. I want to push the limits of my thinking to see what my life would be without consuming meats for the next 30 days (I started January 1).

Here’s my personal ground rule:

  • I will not consume red meat or any processed version of pork, beef, lamb or mutton.
  • I will not consume any poultry or processed version of chicken or turkey.
  • I will explore other non-meat, plant based protein sources, giving preference to those sources that are least processed. Produce will make up the bulk of my meals.
  • I won’t exclude fish in this experiment, but I won’t consume it to the degree that it’s just a replacement for the meat I’m cutting out.
  • I will evaluate the experiment after 30 days to see if it’s something I could give up over a much longer period.

I’d love to hear from other about this subject. Have you given up meat before? If so, what were the challenges you faced?

Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to Going Uncomplicated, comment below or join me on Facebook.

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25 thoughts on “My 30-Day No Meat Challenge

  1. Dottie says:

    Oh, Kelvin, I LOVE this entry! And wishing you much success with the challenge… I quit all meat, chicken, etc in 1995, and have never looked back (I will occasionally order fish or calamari when eating out with friends).

    There are so many great meat-free meals, that I feel more satisfied with food now, than I did when eating meat.

    Lots of online menu help too …

    http://www.pcrm.org/health/diets/new-year-health-plan
    https://www.christinacooks.com/
    http://www.forksoverknives.com/recipes/

    • Kelvin Belfon says:

      Hi Dottie:
      Glad to know you enjoyed the post. It’s been a long time since you quit meat. It’s encouraging…I can do 30 days!
      Thank you so much for the words of affirmation and for the wonderful meat-free menu links. Much appreciated!

  2. Gabriele says:

    What a great post! Awareness is truly important. I have already switched to grassfed beef and milk and rarely consume pork anymore unless it is certified organic. Most of it because of allergies. With being allergic to eggs I am without a significant protein source, most soybean based proteins are still GMO, too so I eat beef. Chicken and fish are even better but take more time for me to prepare.
    I will consider going meat free for 30 days though to see how it improves how I feel 🙂 Thanks!

    • Kelvin Belfon says:

      Hi Gabriele:
      Thank you! Yes, self awareness is everything.
      We’ve done our best to consume farm raised beef, chicken, etc over the years. Pork is the only one we’ve completely eliminated from our home.
      You make a good point about the connection of allergies and meat. Also, GMO is prevalent in soybeans and other vegetables we consume. When possible, buying organic or from local farmers can help. Those who can grow their own for that reason.
      Again, I must admit…this whole experiment is challenging. I walked in a restaurant yesterday and almost ended the experiment 🙂
      Thank you so much for your support and for possibly joining me on the journey.

  3. lisa says:

    Discussing diet is like debating theology. For me, I have found great confidence in looking back at the wisdom of pre-industrialized cultures from around the world. One point worth noting is that each individual should look at their heritage and the diet of their ancestors because it would best fit their blood line. Another important point is that cholesterol is not bad. The lipid hypothesis was never pear reviewed and there are many misconceptions about animal fats. The worst fat, the real villain is hydrogenated vegetable oil. I have copied in some data from the Weston A. Price Foundation below.
    Characteristics of Traditional Diets
    The diets of healthy, nonindustrialized peoples contain no refined or denatured foods or ingredients, such as refined sugar or high fructose corn syrup; white flour; canned foods; pasteurized, homogenized, skim or lowfat milk; refined or hydrogenated vegetable oils; protein powders; synthetic vitamins; or toxic additives and artificial colorings.
    All traditional cultures consume some sort of animal food, such as fish and shellfish; land and water fowl; land and sea mammals; eggs; milk and milk products; reptiles; and insects. The whole animal is consumed—muscle meat, organs, bones and fat, with the organ meats and fats preferred.

    • Kelvin Belfon says:

      Hi Lisa:
      I agree, discussing diet is a troublesome subject.
      Your points are also well noted. I do believe everyone needs to look at their own heritage/diet/blood line. It’s just wise. Also cholesterol is not a bad thing.
      As stated in the post, the no meat challenge is my own personal experiment for the next 30 days. It’s not something I’m advocating for everyone. My desire is to evaluate meat consumption (something I’ve been contemplating for years), learn about other sources of protein and so on.
      Thank you for your comment and feel free to send any other resource my may like the one you mentioned.

  4. Great info! I’ll be joining for part of this journey for 21 Days this month.
    ¡Éxito!

  5. Kelly says:

    I gave up all meat in 1991 (approximately). I added fish back in when I was pregnant with my second child in 2001, but took it back out after she was born. She had lactose issues as a baby so I quit dairy for almost two years, but put it back after she was done nursing. Three years ago I went vegan, but started back with dairy (and occasional fish) about six months ago, but I’m ready to go back to vegan. I always felt healthier without the dairy and definitely do not miss the eggs. My husband actually quit meat before I did and is going to do the vegan thing with me. All three of our kids have been raised vegetarian and are in various stages of what dairy or eggs they will eat.

    The hardest part is being out with people who don’t understand. I don’t have a problem asking for different things, but then the questions come. I actually try to stay silent on the issue because I don’t like opening a can of worms. I have no problem with people who do eat meat, what I have a problem with is when they try to force it back on me or my kids.

    Good luck!

    • Kelvin Belfon says:

      Hi Kelly:
      Thank you so much for sharing your experience. A woman’s pregnancy can add to the equation as you described.
      Also, raising our children to be vegetarian or vegan is not too difficult as long as they training begins in their infancy. Like you, in our family, our children gravitate to healthier/raw meals because it’s what we (parents) eat.
      And last, yes…socializing with others over a meal can be challenging. Food is so much more than eating…it’s ingrained in our culture. It’s the one part of the challenge I need to address.
      Thank you so much again for reading and sharing.

  6. Great 30 day project Kelvin! I look forward to hearing how it goes for you and the lessons learned. I’ve been vegan for almost 5 years and it’s helped me keep Diabetes at bay, lose weight and keep good lab values in a family with cardiac risks. I’ve also enjoyed the food more!

    • Kelvin Belfon says:

      Hi Kathy:
      You’ve kept diabetes at bay, lost weight, and stayed healthy. And enjoyed your meals in the process. This is awesome! Happy for you and your family.
      I’ll share my finding with everyone. Thank you for your support!!

  7. I’m in a period of giving up meat right now and adjusting my diet according to my Ayurvedic constitution. All the reasons you state are excellent and apparently meat eating is also a contributor to global warming. I’m trying out red lentils and split mung bean dahl, but I know those pulses are not necessarily the best for every constitution.

    It’s only been a few weeks and I’m not missing it. But I know I do need to think about my protein intake. A low protein diet is fine with me, but it must have sufficient protein.

    I happily had some fried cooking bananas tonight myself!

    • Kelvin Belfon says:

      Hi Sandra:
      I’m not familiar with the Ayurvedic constitution. I’ll need to look it up.
      Regarding the protein, I’m consuming a lot of tofu, beans, peanut butter, nuts, almond milk and so on.
      Like you, I’m not missing eating meat except a one time I went out to a restaurant with a friend. What makes it easy is the support from my family who are all on board.
      All the best Sandra!

  8. Terri says:

    As you know, I’ve given up meat now for the past few years. Never questioned that decision at all. I think of the suffering of the animals, and that’s enough to keep me from every buying it again. (Also, fish do suffer too, so that’s also why I don’t eat fish.) Watching different documentaries such as Food, Inc. helps. Watch Cowspiracy too (I believe it’s now on netflix) and you can see how you can help the environment as well by not eating meat.

    I try to think of it as my one small thing I can do that can help the world. And as more and more of us do the same, that effect is cumulative. That’s how I respond to people who try to belittle my choice.

    And there are so many ways to get protein – tofu, nuts, peanut butter and other types of nut butter. And eating a lot of produce – well, you already know that is a great thing to do.

    Don’t think of it as a reminder to your days of growing up with not much money. Think of it as what else you can do with the money you are going to be saving (again, the effect will be cumulative over time) for your family or your kids. You can put the money aside for their college funds. (And in the same time, teaching them how to respect animals, etc.) It’s a matter of training the brain, in so many ways. I’m so proud of you for taking on this challenge. I think you will feel so much better, in so many ways, when the 30 days is up, that you will continue on for another 30 days, and then another…

    • Kelvin Belfon says:

      Hi Terri:
      I’ve watched Food Inc, Cowspiracy and other documentaries on Netflix. They’ve been all helped on my journey.
      The needs and struggles in our world can become overwhelming. But your statement is true and inspiring, “I try to think of it as my one small thing I can do that can help the world. And as more and more of us do the same, that effect is cumulative.”

      Thank you for listing a few protein sources. It’s something I’ve been learning about in the process. Thank you also about the tip to save the money we would spend on purchasing meat.

      The challenge is going well. I have full support at home which make it easier. So far, we’ve only consumed fish only once at home. It’s sometimes challenging when I go out with others.

      Thanks again for your encouragement and support Terri!

  9. Cathy says:

    30 days? You can do it! I gave up meat in 1973. I had joined the Book of the Month Club and one of my free books was a meatless cookbook…so I gave it a try. After the first month or so I felt so much better I have never looked back.I do eat salmon about once a week,yogurt every morning(just because I like it),rarely have eggs and never did like drinking milk! Just turned 60 yrs old and unlike ALL my (same age) friends am on no medications. Have no health issues…all is good.Best of luck to you.

    • Kelvin Belfon says:

      Hi Cathy:
      Thank you for sharing your story. It’s very inspiring!
      Like you, we don’t drink cows milk. Sometimes we do fish, almond milk, yogurt and eggs.
      I’m also glad to hear that you are living a healthy life.
      Once again, thank you so much for your support.

  10. Sharon says:

    This is an interesting challenge. I look forward to hearing about your experience and if you feel this is something you want to continue. Is this something your whole family is doing?

    • Kelvin Belfon says:

      Hi Sharon:
      Thank you for visiting. Yes, the whole family is involved. The children eat what we give them and my wife wanted to do this a long time ago. So I’m the only one having a hard time with the challenge. I’ll say more later in my review.

  11. Pamela says:

    Good for you! I gave up red meat and pork 23 years ago. I still consumed poultry for most of those years before becoming vegetarian in 2008, however, due to my youngest child not being able to consume enough B12 (she’s lactose intolerant and hates bananas), her doctor suggested incorporating fish back into her diet 3 years ago. Now that she is in college and living in her dorm, I’m ready to transition back to no fish at all and have been cutting down. My goal is to give it up by my birthday, which is a few weeks away. It’s my guess that you won’t go back to eating meat after you’ve gone 30 days without it.

    • Kelvin Belfon says:

      Hi Pamela!
      Thanks for sharing your story. 23 years is a long time to give up red meat!
      I’m in the experimental stages. Transitioning to a complete no meat diet requires time. See some of my discoveries in My 30-Day No Meat Challenge-Reivew posted today.
      Thanks again for your comment.

  12. Kim Parsons says:

    Good morning! Just came across your post! I made the decision to cut most animal proteins (I use goat’s milk for coffee and tea and only eat goat based cheeses occasionally) and started this week as well. I have for the last few years stuck to game meats as my main red meat sources, deer, bison, elk and my chicken/eggs I get from a local farm who are hormone and antibiotic free range so I know that in my choices were good. I am started with 30 days as well and although I really do enjoy meat, on my 3rd day in am doing ok, not missing it, yet! I have left the option open to have the occasional egg and maybe some chicken but I think that having given myself permission for a couple of cheats is enough to keep me motivated because I know I am not really deprived of it. I love to cook and experiment with foods and flavors but I think my biggest challenge will be maintaining creativity and variety with the meals. Good luck!!

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