What I’ve Learnt After Doing Almost 29 days of a Vegetarian Ramadan

“Vegetarian? Why would anyone want to be that?!”

I remember going on a mid-afternoon run with my close friend when he told me the above, draw dropping statement.

That he was only going to have vegetarian food for a month.

As a carnivore, and one in every sense of the word who came from a meat-eating and meat loving family, this for me felt absurd.

Almost as if he’d told me that platinum plated cows were falling from the sky.

Yet fast forward 2 years. And I’m on the verge of completing a veggie Ramadan.

Without recognising it, that conversation which I acted so dismissively in, subconsciously sparked an intrigue into the lifestyle habits of the best of mankind, Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ).

And in particular, trying to understand if a diet of less regular meat (along with the hope it sparks some weight loss for me!), played a significant part in his ﷺ extraordinary example as a leader.

Here are 5 things I’ve learn from doing a veggie Ramadan.

1. A Genuine Admiration for the Simplicity and Excellence of the Prophetic Way of Life

Let’s get something straight. Not being able to eat meat, if you’ve been doing so all your life or if you’re a chicken lover like me, is no walk in the park.

We live in a world where there is a plethora of choices. Over indulgence is an accepted norm for many of us.

This statement probably has most relevancy when talking about food today. Uber Eats, JustEat, Deliveroo, McDonalds, KFC or Nando’s, within a few clicks we can have our favourite foods in the comfort of our homes.

Some may argue that, “the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, didn’t have that same accessibility to food options, so you can’t compare.”

But he, ﷺ, did love meat. Yet despite this, always encouraged us to be mindful when eating, not to over indulge and share food with others to actually be blessed.

And we all know the saying where the Prophet ﷺ said one third of our stomach should be left empty when eating.

It’s through that process you appreciate what you have.

And really value the statement of less being more. And in that process begin to appreciate how holistic the Prophet’s ﷺ advice always was, even with what most may consider as insignificant like the etiquettes of eating.

Simple advices that added up made colossal impacts.

2. No More Splitting Headaches

I’m fortunate to be able to run my own business and have the freedom to be able to be flexible with my working hours.

This is useful especially when you have a young family.

But Ramadan normally represents the busiest period of the year for our companies. So the senior team are lucky if we get more than 4-6 hours sleep in one go. Normally that leads me getting really bad headaches that I have to find ways to power through.

This year though, I’m grateful to say that’s not been the case. I feel the veggie lifestyle has played a big part in that.

3. Do be Wary Though – They’ll Probably Be Hunger Pains to Begin With!

Having a mother and father whom both were Masterchefs, then being surrounded by the food they’d cook in while helping out at their businesses during my teenage and early 20’s on the weekend food was always going to play a central role in my life.

From home-style chicken Korma’s to an unrivalled mother’s meat and potato curry, our meals at home were always pretty epic.

It was always food packed with flavour. And let me tell you something, there was no holding back with the portions in our household either.

So trying to control the portions I eat (which I must admit I haven’t been to great at!), without the meat, man it’s a challenge. Especially early on in the month.

And even with healthy plate portions of veggie food. I’d still regularly feel peckish!

It really isn’t a lifestyle for the faint hearted. Not to begin with anyway. At the start, I ALWAYSSSS felt hungry.

So if you’re looking to give it a try. Be prepared for the rumblings of a hungry stomach.

4. But If You Can Get Through That, Discipline Is A By Product You Benefit From

Ask a senior c-suite executive what’s a success habit they installed into their lives.

Or better yet, look into the supposed attributes of billionaires that made them successful.

It’s almost guaranteed you’ll find discipline in their day to day routines a key component of why they ended up with the success that came their way.

In a notifications and “always on” world, where we can’t go more than two moments without the need to get back to something or someone, being present is becoming a genuinely rare attribute.

But those who’ve come across some sort of mastery in their profession or life, have managed to end up in that state due to the discipline they demonstrate and their ability of being able to say no and creating boundaries.

Telling myself “no” to meat and chicken, almost consciously and subconsciously on a daily basis, especially when the rest of your family are enjoying Peri-Peri chicken and you’re there with your quorn sausages 🤣, hasn’t always been easy.

But life isn’t always easy. And whether this was the attribute I was to learn all along or not, it’s definitely made me realise how important discipline is in achieving our goals.

5. And You’re Capable of More Than What You Think

As soon as the idea of doing a Veggie Ramadan solidified in my mind, I knew it was something I wanted to do (despite the occasional change of mind, especially on the verge of the first night of Ramadan! 🤣).

But I actually didn’t share the idea with family until preparations for the Iftar started to come together, just in case I wasn’t able to get through the first day.

And then didn’t share the idea with my friends and extended family until day 10 of Ramadan in case I failed to see if through to some sort of substantial number of days.

But here I am, on the verge of night twenty nine. And now this way of life has almost become second nature to me.

Which teaches you. The ceiling to what your capable of, is only the vastness of your ambitions.

And that we’re all capable. We just got to put our minds (and mouths in this case) to it.

Wishing you all a blessed Eid.

Written by Saiful Islam

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Hey, my name is Saif!

I'm co-founder of a Muslim Influencer agency called M.I.N and managing partner at Mvslim (the publication we have the honour of you reading right now 😬🤗).

I've been fortunate to have previously overseen strategy for the likes of Primark, Anchor Butter and The UN’s UNHCR, to have led digital transformation for brands increasing revenue from £300,000 to £3 million and be named in the Top 50 Thought Leaders in the Influencer Marketing Industry.

I like to scribble a few things now and then. Hope you enjoy reading my thoughts 😊