Give Me Back My Five Bucks

30 days as a pescetarian: what I learned

I’ve gone 34 (today is 35) days without eating meat. It’s been an interesting month, and I’ve had a lot of questions from people about why I decided to do this.

At first, it was just an experiment. Meat is delicious, right? I grew up eating meat, and while I never ate a lot of it, I still love burgers (mmmm In-n-Out), roast beef dinners, duck, and everything in between. But then I slowly started watching documentaries and doing research on everything from cruelty to the farm animals we eat (including pumping them full of hormones and chemicals), to the link between red meat and cancer and heart disease (my family has a history of heart problems). And while I am a natural skeptic, it’s pretty hard to argue against science like that. Combine that with the desire I already had to overhaul my food consumption, and the March Pescetarian Challenge was born. :)

Here are my results:

  • Lost 4 pounds. Although to be fair, I don’t know how much of that was from eating less meat, or increasing my exercise.
  • My skin looks healthier, and less oily.
  • I have more energy. Getting up at 5:30 for my morning run is never a problem, and I’m not as tired in the evenings when I come home from work.
  • I’m eating way more often (but trying to be healthy about it).

For the most part, I ate vegetarian for 75% of my meals. I think the key for me (and my budget) wasn’t to replace meat with fish, but to eliminate meat, and continue to eat fish as often as I had been before. My boyfriend was also supportive of my change in diet. He stopped cooking meat when I was around (except for that one time he cooked massive quantities of maple bacon, and my house smelled delicious all day), and he has also started to examine his red meat intake as well.

Over the last month, I learned a lot about myself. Like, how to control cravings: when all I want is a big, juicy burger, how can I convince myself to eat an eggplant instead? And that quitting meat had no real impact on my life, aside from losing weight and having more energy. That surprised me. I thought I’d have to make tough food decisions and maybe even decline dinners out. But every restaurant had something delicious I could eat – I wasn’t stuck just nibbling on a crappy salad. And I always felt full.

I also found that I was a lot more conscious of what I was eating. Breakfast used to be 2 eggs and toast. Now, it’s a green smoothie. My go-to snack used to be potato chips. Now, I love making kale chips. Of course, these healthier choices often come with a price tag. For the most part, fish is more expensive than meat. And consuming so many fruits/vegetables is more expensive than eating cheap carbs. Still, I’m pretty sure I can continue to eat like this, while staying within my regular monthly food budget.

This has been an interesting experiment, and I don’t know what I’m going to do going forward, but I’m 95% sure I’m going to continue a pescetarian lifestyle. At least through until the end of April. It will be hard to say no to my mom’s amazing roast beef dinners, or my dad’s honey-glazed duck, and I’m not exactly sure how I’ll deal with the temptation of the food in Las Vegas when I’m there in May (am I really going to say no to a burger from In-n-Out?) … but for now, I’m not craving meat at all. And I feel so much better, lighter, and energetic. :)

Here are a few pictures of the food I’ve eaten over the month:

Author: Krystal Yee

I’m a personal finance blogger and marketing professional based in Vancouver. I’m a former Toronto Star (Moneyville) columnist, author of The Beginner’s Guide to Saving and Investing, and co-founder of the Canadian Personal Finance Conference. When I’m not working, you can usually find me running, climbing, playing field hockey, or plotting my next adventure.


  1. Good for you! Thanks for sharing your results with this experiment. I think I could give up beef, but my husband is a definite meat eater and it is hard to always come up with meals for two that are always going to be different.

  2. Michelle says:

    Glad to hear its going well Krystal! I’ve noticed that I’ve had more energy by cutting out dairy and meat as well. I haven’t tried Kale chips yet but my friends swear they are the best thing and easy to make. My lunches have been soy milk smoothies with banana, carrots, frozen raspberries and protein powder.

  3. My variation is to be a “vegetarian at home.” I make almost all meals at home (including brown bag lunches for work). We eat meat occasionally when it is served to us at other people’s homes. I suppose this works because we are vegetarian for health/environment reasons.

  4. Elizabeth says:

    Not to mention that we could feed the whole third world with the grain that we feed the animals we are raising to slaughter. I’m not saying you should never eat meat, but reducing your intake helps to even out food equity.

  5. There is a very popular farmer here that recently had to shut down parts his farm because an “all natural” chicken farm was built on the property next to his. While this company claims that they don’t give their chicken antibotics or hormones, they do spray tons of chemicals all around the farm to keep insects out.

  6. I have been cutting out meat and carbs more. I have also increased my workouts to 5 times a week. I have toned considerably. I have more energy and feel better about myself.

    However, I have not cut meat completely. I don’t eat fish, so without meat it would really suck. I workout a lot, and your body needs a certain amount of protein for my muscle to grow and recover. I don’t eat more than 7 oz of meat a day.

  7. Moonwaves says:

    Sounds interesting. It’s certainly important to be careful in choosing the type of meat you source and eat. There are environmental issues surrounding fish as well, though, as I’m sure you know. You might find interesting – it’s a UK-based site but fishing is one of those things that doesn’t stay within borders too well. It has a recipes section, too, if you’re looking for ideas.

    Just on the two comments above, I wanted to add:
    Elizabeth: there are many areas of the world where grain doesn’t grow or doesn’t grow without massive inputs. Ruminants such as cows are not supposed to eat grain but rather the grasses that do grow in many of those places. It’s important to always remember the full argument, I think and that’s why it’s so important to know what kind of meat it is you’re consuming, how the animals were raised, how that type of animal should be raised and so on and so forth. And, as you point out, reducing meat intake is something most people could probably do to advantage.

    Jackie: They’re spending money and effort to kill a perfectly good and FREE food source for their chickens? How much more crazy can this world get!

    • Krystal Yee says:

      Awesome comment – and yeah I definitely understand the environmental impact around fish too. There are environmental issues with so many things in our lives, I feel like I’ve got to choose my battles. :)

  8. ashley says:

    I’ve been waiting for this post because I was so curious how you were finding going meat free.

    I’m from the other side of the spectrum – I’ve been vegetarian for over half my life. I went veggie at 12 and haven’t looked back. But now I’ve got to the place where I’m tired. I’m sluggish. And I’m getting fat! Actually, I got fat three years ago and can’t get rid of it.

    As I’m educating myself more about where my food comes from and what’s in it, I’m trying to cut back on soy, wheat and sugar. This leaves very little else and I’m wondering if it’s time to start introducing new protein (likely fish) into my diet.

    It’s funny that you find it more expensive because I definitely believe that a veggie lifestyle is cheaper than one that includes red meat. But I try to replace the cheaper carbs with bulk purchased dried beans, brown rice and quinoa.

    As a MASSIVE fan of food and a circle of friends (and family) that includes so many chefs, I feel like I’m missing out. But I think that has to do with turning so young. There are so many things I haven’t tried!

    Reducing meat consumption to 1 a week would still be such a major improvement, especially if you are careful about where the meat is coming from. But In and Out Burger? No sympathy there! But maybe that’s because I’ve never tried it….

    Next time you’re in Toronto, hit up Burger Priest for one of their veggie burges and In and out will be a distant memory!

    • Krystal Yee says:

      Well definitely a vegetarian lifestyle can be cheaper than one that includes red meat. But I’ve been making green smoothies every morning, and eating a ton of stuff like kale, quinoa, and fish – stuff that’s more expensive than what I would normally buy.

      I think it’s interesting that you want to include fish into your diet, but I tend to feel the same way. I think that this change in diet for me is sustainable because (while I usually do eat vegetarian), the option to have fish means that so many more restaurants and dishes are available for me to try. Plus, not sure that I could ever give up sushi. :)

      Mmmmm now that we’re talking about In-n-Out, I can’t help but crave it. :P I’ve heard Burgers Priest is amazing, but didn’t realize they have veggie burgers! Tried to get there the last time I was in Toronto, but wasn’t able to make it. Definitely on my to-do list this year.

  9. janesavers says:

    Do you think you need to take an iron supplement? I gave up most meat last summer for economic reason but ended up with a variety of illnesses that all related to anemia. I had a blood test for iron and once I started supplementing all my fatigue, light-headedness and mood swings disappeared.

    I have had to supplement with iron capsules but I have also increased the iron rich foods in my diet. Cream of Wheat is cheap, a good source of iron and I love it and it is now a permanent part of my life.

    I would never recommend supplements but I would encourage you to think about a blood test at your annual doctor’s visit.

    • Krystal Yee says:

      So far, I’ve been fine. I do eat a lot of spinach, kale, tofu, beans, hummus quinoa, etc. that have iron – and I still eat seafood. I see my doctor regularly, so if I do start to see a change in the way I feel, then I’ll definitely speak to him about it. :)

  10. Ron says:

    I am a ‘flexitarian’ and really enjoy it. You might like the reasoning behind it ( you can google it…).

    I eat a pretty clean diet….very little meat and very limited preprocessed food to avoid all those toxins, and tons of fresh food. However, when I go to a potlucks at work or gatherings with friends or family I avoid being ‘that person’ by being flexible. Actually, I get to indulge by eating a wide variety of foods occasionally thought out the year which satisfy my cravings and helps me remember that I’m not missing anything. My diet is both healthy and it fits in with my cultural surroundings.

  11. robtmcdowell says:

    It’s a really great blog, and the meals look really nice. I’m in the middle of a similar challenge, and I really like that I have to think before I eat now.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for sharing. I am in day 3 of a 30 day pescetarian diet and it’s going well so far. I don’t crave meat but I do find myself hungry more often. I mostly eat veggies, fish and tofu. I actually made it through dim sum yesterday while everyone else at delicious pork filled dumplings. I wonder if the more frequent hunger stops at some point.

  13. Cynthia says:

    Totally late to the party… but if you’re still meat free & craving In-N-Out, order a grilled cheese. It’s the exact same as one of their amazing burgers, minus the meat! :)

  14. James says:

    WOW! Awesome story. I to is considering this transition effective today.

    Im challenging myself till March 6 and monitoring my progress.

    Wish me LUCK!

  15. keonie says:

    It can be all confusing. I can’t wait to start my green house and fruit trees. Buying fruirs in the storesbis sooooo scary. I never was a big meat eater growing up, but chicken was ok. But now I don’t really care for it. If I get fish I’m so picky. I refuse to eat farm raised. With all the stuff they do at these farms with all the drugs and hormones etc. I just prefer fresh. I eat low carbs, high fibers and high protein all day drink about a gallon of water a day. Absolutely love juicing. I juice all my dark green veggies. But here lately I did slip into a sweet tooth frenzy. Was really bad. It praticially took over me. Was like ever night I had to eat a handful of vanilla taffy. Looks like I needed a salt in my diet. Which was something I never used. It’s amazing how our bodies tells us when we’re lacking stuff. So when something changes take note.

  16. Sarah says:

    I’m working on getting my own blog up. This blog will have my own section where I take the challenge going pescetarian. Eating like this is getting easier. I don’t miss red meat, which I gave up due to digestive issues. I ate change chicken the other day and felt I could even do without that. This could definitely be an article I’ll be happy to link too.

  17. Debby says:

    I’ve been about 30 days now without eating meat only fish vegetables and fruit. It’s been quite an experiment and my fibromyalgia is practically gone. I’ve lost about 10 pounds and I feel great. I never had a real loss of energy and my mind is becoming clear and focused. My desire to learn everything I can about food is strong and I carefully watch everything Eat. I will continue this way until I reach my goal. I’m already past what I weighed in 2006. My whole life has changed for the better.

  18. Alli says:

    I have been a pescatarian since I was 12 (I am 36 now) and I honestly don’t miss meat a bit. It can be a bit expensive to eat healthy as a pesci but we include wild caught local fish in our diet about twice per month and I will occasionally order seafood from a restaurant if I know it is from a good source, but otherwise it’s all veggies here.

    Recently been trying to cut down on my soy and dairy intake- that takes a lot of work when you are mostly vegetarian! Seems to be good for my body though.

    Regarding In N Out: they do a grilled cheese (it’s not on the menu)- which is just a burger without the patty. I order mine with grilled onions, animal style and it’s delicious- although I have never actually eaten one of their burgers, I imagine that the bun and the toppings are mostly what makes them distinctive, so the grilled cheese is a pretty awesome compromise.

  19. PrimalJim says:

    I dropped all processed foods 3 years ago and now just eat plants and meat (keep it simple). I suggest that you read the book “Primal Blueprint” by Mark Sisson and then choose what you’re willing to eat. I won’t eat any meat other than seafood (Mark’s wife eats only fish for her protein).

    Dropping all grains and eating non processed is an effort, but I’ve done it for the past 3 years while traveling heavy, so it’s doable… The payoff is amazing; weight control, cast iron immune system, mood benefits, etc!

    As always, making the right decisions everyday is the hardest part :)

  20. mike says:

    being vegetarian is wayyyy cheaper, meat is where you spend your money at the store
    I agree, buying fresh veggies will cost more than frozen dinners, but when you factor in left overs and using the veggies for snacks it’s way cheaper

    the only time I feel ripped off is when I go to eat something at a restaurant and it has meat, I ask for no meat and the price stays the same even though the meat was the main expense to the meal

  21. Brock says:

    Kristen, in one of your comment replies, you said, “But I’ve been making green smoothies every morning, and eating a ton of stuff like kale, quinoa, and fish – stuff that’s more expensive than what I would normally buy.” You also talk about the increased cost of fresh veggies and fish in the main post.

    These are all short-term costs. If you’re truly interested in saving money and being financially independent over the entirety of your life, the only long-term solution is to get rid of red meat and pork from your diet.

    Sure, kale and quinoa may cost you an extra couple of bucks a month at the grocery store now, but that’s nothing compared to what many people end up spending for heart disease treatment, or cancer treatment, or end-of-life care. People fool themselves by thinking that the $1 double cheeseburger at McDonald’s truly costs them only one dollar. Every extra penny spent on a healthier diet now will be rewarded a thousand fold when you’re older.

    Hopefully, you’ve kept it up. Thanks for the post!

    • Krystal Yee says:

      Thanks for your comment. Since I wrote this post I’ve been vegetarian for about 2.5 years, and have not eaten meat since that pescetarian challenge over 3 years ago. :)

  22. Cashmeira says:

    Stumbled across your blog while looking for the answer “am i Pescatarian?” ahaha. Great blog! I have been truly pescatarian for about 3 months now (been trying at it for a year). I do not eat much meat anyway, but on occasion i would use ground turkey. I feel much healthier now (except for that time last week that I ate one of my daughters chicken nuggets! oops, they just looked so crispy!) Anyhoo! i’ll be reading you a lot more, love your style! excited to read and see if you’ve kept up the lifestyle too!


  23. Jey says:

    Green Apple and Peanut Butter is a good source of Protein. I spread the peanut butter on the apple. Also, saw what toxics are fed to animals. I thought just open my mouth and turn on the nozzle but I became a Pes ca ta ri an. Say it! They can keep the chemicals. Now look in the mirror. Make the change you will feel better.

  24. Kevin says:

    I had started eliminating beef then pork over the last couple years. Then decided to go full pescatarian and drop chicken and all dairy. I go for all organic veggies with lots of nuts, olives,olive oil and wild caught fish especially. It’been 4 months now and the change has been incredible. I’ve lost 35 lbs and feel much more clear minded and am full of energy. I am never going back, it’s the pescatarian lifestyle all the way!

  25. John says:

    Great article. I chose to try out a pescetarian diet when I visited my doctor a little over a month ago. I received the results of my blood test and it wasn’t good. I dont know where it all went wrong, my weight was and still isn’t good and I was borderline diabetic. If i didnt change my lifestyle any time soon I would’ve been placed on medication 100%

    So, i’m now on my fourth week since changing my diet and my blood sugar has dramatically decreased from 7 to 5.9. I’ve also lost about 6 pounds (Scale bounces from 5 to 6)

    From the research i’ve been doing, especially now that my diet consists of more fish and sea food consumption, it was suggested that i take a Chlorella Supplement to help flush the body of the metals potentially absorbed from the seafood. I didnt know about Chlorella before but I saw that there’s actually a lot more benefits to be had from it, especially for people following a pescetarian diet.

    Anyhow, I hope i’m able to stick with it, so far my meat cravings are very minimal, and i’m actually very happy about the lifestyle change. I noticed that my energy has been much better. I still have a long way to go, but I owe it to myself to start being healthier.

    Good luck to everyone else trying to make a difference with their lives. You just have to enjoy the little accomplishments. Like being able to say no to a delicious steak dinner, or realizing that the needle on the scale is slowly getting closer to your ideal weight.

    Holiday season is just around the corner, and this will be the best time for me to learn to say no.

    I realized that this article is an older one, maybe ill start a youtube series to document my progress. Have a great day everyone.

  26. Mariann says:

    I came across this blog after doing a hug pros/cons list on red meat (turkey), chicken and seafood. I’m realizing the older I get, my body does not handle meat well. I’m always sick afterwards. So, I’ve read the few articles (including this blog) on being a pescetarian and the benefits of it. After my list and this blog, it just makes good sense. I won’t make my 4 year old stop eating it because he’s growing and needs it. But!!! If he chooses (eventually) to not eat meat and load up on everything else, I won’t stop him!!!! I’m excited about this new life changing event!!! Thanks for sharing your story, this was awesome!

  27. Michael says:

    Hi All..

    I’ve read through these remarks and they seem pretty good. I wanted to give my experience..
    I’m an older guy close to 50. I’ve done low carb, low fat and everything else. I’ve always been over weight because of the sports that I played in high school, trying to gain weight and muscle that I then had to deal with from 25 on as a young adult as I gained responsibilities financially and professionally. Anyway, I noticed at 46 that my taste and smell started changing towards meat. Many people’s taste and smell changes as they get older. I had what many people would call a second of clarity in any given part of anyone’s life and I thought….I’m going to stop eating meat. I made the choice myself before any research or anything like that…just kinda made sense..
    Long story short…it was the best “ah ha” moment I ever had! I feel better, I’ve lost weight, I don’t feel deprived, my skin looks way better and I feel better knowing I’m doing a good thing for me….just my two cents…

    • Michael says:

      Just a followup that I have found extremely helpful….I eat eggs here and there and fish even less. I DO, however, take an algal epa/dha pill every day for sustainable forms of omega-3 and sometimes twice a day….keeps my hair growing :)

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