30 days as a pescetarian: what I learned - 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:

About Krystal Yee

I'm a writer, 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, playing field hockey, or plotting my next adventure.

17 comments

  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. 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. 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. 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 http://www.fishfight.net/ 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!

    • 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. 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!

    • 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. 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.

    • 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. 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.

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