I’d often thought about trying being a vegan, usually between bites of a large rare cheeseburger accompanied by thoughts of “maybe tomorrow.” My vegan tomorrow finally happened over thirty days ago as I found veganism popping up all around me. As energetic vegan friends served me a delicious dinner, they told me that ridding their diet of dairy gave them a huge boost in energy. I could certainly use more energy! And I could definitely use a boost in my pocket book– tofu and beans are much less expensive than meat and cheese. On top of that, I’m trying to eat a healthier diet involving more vegetables. What better way to accomplish my goals than becoming vegan!
When I found The 30-Day Vegan Challenge, it was official. The recipes looked easy to prepare and delicious. It was meant to be, and I was committed to going vegan for 30 days. So I stocked up on soy milk and got ready to go!
As a woman who loves a challenge and relishes a resolution, I’ve found the best way to commit to a goal and stick to it is to tell people about it—the more people, the better. And that’s what I did. At two large meetings I made the announcement. There was no turning back. I did have friends and co-workers say that they would never want to commit to the challenge because they were afraid of failure. I thought about that, but decided there would be no failure! Would I be able to be vegan for a whole month? Maybe. My whole life? Ummm…let’s just say no promises were made. This was about trying something new to improve my life, not punishment way to punish myself! There is no such thing as failure! I would strive for 30 perfect vegan days but promised not to beat myself up if I strayed. I would learn from this experience and would journal each and every day vegan or not.
Here are the highs and lows of my thirty day challenge…
Day 1– I planned, shopped, and prepared most of my meals for the next few days. I was good to go. At 12:30, I realized that I had already eaten all of the provisions that I had brought to work. Tomorrow’s plan, pack more provisions.
Day 2-Oh my goodness! I may never go back to cream cheese. Had ripe avocado spread on multigrain bread with lemon juice, olive oil, chili pepper flakes, salt, and pepper for breakfast. Scrumptious!
Day 3-I’ve noticed that everywhere I go smells like bacon. Once again it’s late afternoon, and I am hungry. I am crabby. Oooooh, I love crabs…Shoot, not vegan.
Day 5-Okay–it’s all in the preparation. If I make sure that I have enough food for each meal and two snacks a day I don’t miss or crave meat. I’ve included a 4pm peanut butter and grape jelly sandwich. Classic yum, vegan or not.
Day 6– My good friend Dava reminded me that Oreos are vegan and asked if I was planning on eating them 30 days straight. I consider this idea for longer than I care to admit.
Day 7-I love avocados and cashews. Vegan!
Day 11– Had dinner at a Thai restaurant with longtime friend Jamie. Ordered the summer rolls and pad thai vegan style–Tofu sans the shrimp, egg and fish sauce. Delicious and Jamie didn’t seem to notice my new dietary directions. Ha! Success.
Day 15-Becoming a chubby vegan thanks to the daily pb & j’s, avocados, and cashews. All are delicious, but I realize I need to start focusing less on missing meat and dairy and focus instead on filling up on fruits and vegetables.
Day 18-Dang-first bump in the road. In a scramble to find a place for dinner before a show the only restaurant a friend and I could find is tapas. One vegan option and I couldn’t eat just that and didn’t have the time to specially order all those little plates due to the imminent curtain. Research and preparation would have been good here. Oh well–fresh start tomorrow.
Day 19– I realized I haven’t been eating a whole lot of veggies, still.Hmmm…that was one of my goals here. Apparently, I brought my old eating habits along with me to this new diet.
Day 20– Check out the portobello mushroom burger recipe in the book –so easy to make, so delicious. Put it on a ciabbatta roll with some baby spinach, yellow peppers and tomatoes. Will look forward to having this at lunch tomorrow too!
Day 22-Nayonaise. The BEST discovery ever! Delicious! If I’d never done this challenge I never would have found Nayonaise. I want to put it on everything.
Day 25– Thank God for Trader Joe’s and his precut vegetables as I am lazy and avoid using sharp pointy objects.
Day 27-Bad, stressful day, so I comforted myself with a slice of pizza. Yeah, yeah–cheese pizza and I enjoyed it. This is the first time I’ve had dairy in a long time. Upon reflection, I do have more energy lately, and I don’t miss the milk in my coffee. I do still love cheese.
Day 30-Is it day 30 already? This hasn’t been as tough as I thought. I learned tons of tips and tricks and have a bunch of easy new recipes to boot.
Thirty days. Perfect vegan-no. Enlightened eater- yes. I found that like anything, it’s good to have a goal but essential to try to achieve it with kindness. Pros of my 30 challenge days–in a lot of ways it’s not so difficult– delicious food is delicious food. It’s a good reminder that being a healthy eater takes foresight and planning–vegan or not.
Cons-I found restaurant eating and eating at friends’ homes difficult. It’s not impossible but it is challenging. (Pro: The 30-Day Vegan Challenge has some great restaurant suggestions.)
A couple of tips I picked up that can help you meet the challenge:
- Watch out for prepared vegan food. Sometimes oil is dumped on vegetables and noodles to bring out the flavor. If fresh local vegetables are used, they will have enough of flavor.
- Nuts and nut butters are delicious but watch out for portion sizes. It’s easy to pack on the pounds with them.
- After all of this I have eaten dairy and some fish but have decided to be vegan at home. It’s much easier on the pocketbook, fast to prepare, and if you are careful, much more healthy.