Life Without Meat Diary – Part 3: Being Veggie Is Really Hard

Online butcher Emma Pike gave up meat and dairy cold turkey (!) after a friend challenged her. Below is the third installment in her hilarious, honest and heart-warming diary (read Part 1 here and Part 2 here). 

Day 15: Taking Stock Of My Vegan 14

I feel pretty terrible today. Had a tennis “Fitnique” session with Gap Tennis this morning, did some work and had some lunch and now I feel dead to the world.

After being vegan for two weeks now, I can say that it’s much more than a diet change. It’s more of an overall life change. It’s definitely not for me: I can feel my body craving things. And not junk food things…Real food things like salmon, meat and yogurt! But I can say I did it and I will finish the whole 21 day challenge as a vegetarian. It’s undoubtedly been an eye opener about how prepared you have to be to live a plant-based lifestyle. I feel like as soon as I’ve prepared one meal and eaten it, I’m right back there preparing for the next meal.

I have lost 1.5 kilos so far and frankly, I attribute that less to giving up meat and more to the fact that I haven’t had any Coke Zero or junk food (pizza, kebabs, McDonalds) for a while. I’ve also been snacking on the kids’ dinner plates less.

Day 16: Flat Drink, Flat Mood

Feeling a little flat today. Was home sick yesterday afternoon. I have no idea what was wrong with me but I just wanted to go to bed and rest, I felt like I had no energy. I do feel like my body is missing something at this stage of the game but with only five days to go I can’t give in now. Still no soft drinks! Last night, I did feel like I needed a can of something fizzy with sugar but I held firm. I also had a good lunch today with my friend Katie at HOME Eat To Live, which was tasty. I’ve tried every veggie burger that I have been recommended and in my humble opinion, MANA! Fast Slow Food has the best one.

HOME Eat To Live Polar Vegan Burger
HOME Eat To Live Polar Vegan Burger

Day 17: Food Prep Is So Time-Intensive

Played squash this evening and did not make out too badly. The same can’t be said about my progress on the eating front. I’m really struggling during these final few days and finding I’m turning to carbohydrates more and more. I’m also getting a bit lazy on the food preparation part of things: I’ve been looking for more veggie take-out options, and most of the time they seem as bad as the meat versions. Let’s see how the next few days go.

Day 18: Veggie Tennis Power?

Not long to go now. Played three and a half hours of tennis league this morning and came out on top. Veggie doubles team Jen and me won 3 of our 4 sets- the carnivores duo Haj and Viv only managed to get 2 of their 4. I’m going to my friend Sangwan’s for dinner. She is a great Thai cook so I’m excited for a delicious meal, though I reckon I’ll mostly be eating the sauce. Still, it will be tasty!

Day 19: Dreaming Of A Bacon Bap

Felt a little rough this morning after having had a few drinks last night. I cooked up a new veggie patty I bought for breakfast, but it wasn’t great. It was  filler but as far as I am concerned, it’s no replacement for a good bacon and bap with BBQ sauce!

I spend the day in Lei Yiu Mun with the family. Everyone around me enjoyed a lovely seafood lunch while I stared at my bowl of rice and veg…Let’s just say I’m looking forward to breakfast on Tuesday!

Beyond Meat Chicken Strips
Beyond Meat Chicken Strips

Day 20: So Close…

Only one more day to go! I did a cheeky little experiment this afternoon: I gave the kids and Steve some vegan chicken nuggets for lunch. They went down pretty well until I told them that it was ‘fake chicken’. Later at dinner I served up (actual) chicken and rice and they all looked at me strangely until Molly said: “Is this real chicken this time or more of that weird stuff?” So funny!

Still no Coke Zero! I had yet another small moment of weakness this afternoon but I didn’t give in.

Enjoyed an amazing dinner at Qi – House of Sichuan in Wan Chai this evening. We ordered vegetarian dumplings, eggplant, green beans and more and it was all delicious! I’ve eaten there a few times before and had the same dishes with meat in them and I must say, I could barely tell the difference.

Day 21: Success!

Challenge done and dusted! Never again am I making a bet whilst intoxicated! So the whole point of this was for my veggies friends and me to see if I could survive without meat in my diet for 21 days and give up Coke Zero cold turkey, with the added bonus of being vegan for the first 14 days.

I made it through the first 14 days and at that point, I was so grateful to be able to add eggs and dairy back into my diet- I was feeling very drained as a vegan. In the end, I got through all 21 days with zero meat and more incredibly, zero Coke Zeros.

I don’t think being vegetarian is for me but I’m glad I took on the challenge. I have far more insight into the obstacles that vegetarians face. I also feel like my selection range at restaurants has been widened. There are a few veggie dishes that I will definitely be ordering going forward.

You may be asking yourself why the founder of an online butchers shop would take on a meat-free challenge. But the truth is, I definitely learnt a few things…

Here’s What I Learned

  1. Vegetarians lie! It doesn’t all taste fantastic and I didn’t feel like I was jumping off walls with energy and fake fish and fake chicken are fake. If you want fish, eat fish people!
  2. I do feel like every last bit of bad stuff (toxins) has left my body and that I have become extremely regular, if you see what I mean.
  3. I do notice a difference in my face (skin is brighter) and I do feel that I look healthier.
  4. I’m way less bloated from not drinking soft drinks…but I’m also glad alcohol is acceptable.
  5. I did start to lack energy during the challenge, and got really lazy and felt very tired. This made me crave carbs in a big way.
  6. The kids and Steve now eat more vegetables, which is a definite win!
  7. I now have some vegetarian dishes in my dinner roster that I will definitely continue to include in my diet.
  8. I lost just over a kilo in 21 days so being vegan/veggie is not really a weight loss option for me. I see it more as a cleansing.
  9. I honestly believe that everyone is different and if you want to eat vegan or be a carnivore then go for it. I think deep down we all know what is right and wrong when it comes to food, so just do what’s best for you.

Read Part 1: The Reluctant Vegan & Part 2: My Fridge Has Never Been So Full Of Vegetables

About Emma Pike

Hailing from Sydney, Australia, Emma Pike is a ex-IT industry professional and squash coach who moved to Hong Kong twelve years ago and now runs Farmers Market, an online ethical meat and sustainable seafood store. Emma is mum to Charlie and Molly, and wife to Steve. The whole family are avid sports players and all of them play on various local school and club teams. Emma is also a dedicated member of the Hong Kong expat community, organizing events and supporting many local charities and small businesses whenever she can. This is her first plant-based challenge.


Images courtesy of Sobremesa (lead photo), HOME Eat To Live Facebook and Vegetarian Food Lab

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Sonalie Figueiras is Green Queen's founder, publisher and editor-in-chief. She is an accomplished health and eco living writer, editor and speaker. When it comes to wellness, no one in Asia is as connected or as well-informed. Sonalie is also the founder of Ekowarehouse, the global sourcing platform for certified organic producing. When she is not working, Sonalie is usually dreaming up new recipes in the kitchen for her family.