My 30 day vegan challenge
As you may well know by now, I set myself a 30 day vegan challenge at the beginning of September. Veganism (or rather, a plant-based diet) is something that I’d wanted to try for a while. But like most people, I thought that it equaled deprivation and eating boring food for the rest of my life. Although I didn’t eat a lot of meat anyway (only fish), I loved things like cakes and chocolate. I never really felt like fully committing to this seemingly impossible diet. But after watching a few videos and reading a lot of articles about veganism I decided I’d try a 30 day vegan challenge. Just for a month, so that there was no pressure to continue if it was too difficult.
After reading so many promising stories online about how the 30 day vegan challenge almost instantaneously changed a lot of peoples lives, I entered the month with high hopes. Although I do feel a bit better mentally (and by that I mean not feeling guilty about what I eat), it wasn’t the cure-all-problems solution that I expected. My skin’s cleared up a lot in the past two weeks (although I’m 99% sure this isn’t the end of my acne battle) but other than that, I feel pretty much exactly the same. I could’ve done it WAY healthier though so I don’t feel I can judge the diet fairly just yet. I plan to continue eating a plant-based diet for the foreseeable future but focusing more on whole foods. Even though my health didn’t change much, I did learn a few things during my vegan challenge that I wanted to share…
Vegan food isn’t boring
I didn’t believe anyone who told me this until I tried it for myself but trust me- anything you can eat as a meat-eater, you’ll find (or can create) a vegan version that’s just as good. I’ve eaten more junk food since switching to a plant-based diet than I ever did before and whilst that’s definitely not a good thing, it shows that there is no shortage of fab food out there. I ate pancakes, cakes, macaroni cheese, Ben & Jerry’s and more.
It isn’t expensive
I can’t say I didn’t get carried away with replacement products (soz, I love cake and ice-cream). But if you stick to REAL food, a vegan diet is so bloody cheap. For starters, meat is expensive so immediately you’re saving a lot by cutting that out. Staples like lentils, pasta, rice, oats and beans can be bought in bulk for ridiculously low prices then all you need to do is add fruit and veg. You can make some pretty fab meals without the animal-based replacement products.
Us humans are HORRIBLE
As well as learning about the (really, really awful) cruelty in the meat and dairy industry, I also learned that a lot of seemingly innocent products weren’t vegan. Most white wine and beer contains isinglass. Cane sugar is typically filtered by animal bone char (not in the UK thank god). And a lot of red foods are coloured with crushed beetles (carmine). We do some fucked up shit to animals. It’s really sad that we have such little respect for them as a society. And I think it’s even sadder that this is normal to society.
Getting enough protein isn’t hard…
At all. I often used My Fitness Pal to track my food and was easily getting 60g+ of protein every day without even trying. That comes from the staple foods I mentioned above- no protein powders included. Providing you’re eating enough calories, you don’t need to worry about protein. If you’re trying to build muscle and need a bit more, you can easily make protein shakes using plant-based ingredients (oats, soy milk, peanut butter etc.).
…But getting enough vitamins is
I used an app called Chronometer to check how much of each nutrient I was getting every day. I found that most of the vitamins and minerals we need are easy enough to get (if you’re eating enough fruit and veg). The exception to this was vitamin D and B12. Drinking fortified plant milks wasn’t giving me the amount that I needed so I bought some supplements to help. Note: even if you’re a meat-eater you’re probably still not getting all of the nutrients you need so a multi-vitamin is always a good idea.
Eating out can be a pain in the ass
There are a lot of restaurants and cafes that make eating out really difficult. Sometimes there will be only one vegetarian option on the menu and it’ll contain milk or eggs. This usually means I have to go elsewhere. Or I’ll have to request so many alterations that it gets embarrassing. Although, I did find a good amount of restaurants that had a whole dedicated vegan menu. Hopefully it’ll only get easier!
So there’s some of the things I discovered during my 30 day vegan challenge. But I know I definitely have a lot more left to learn. I’m sticking with “plant-based” so as not to offend any vegans. I still eat foods containing palm oil and take supplements containing cholecalciferol which don’t contain animal products directly but may be considered unethical to some people. If you have any tips, advice or recipes you’d like to share please do in the comments.