So last Saturday brought me to the end of Veganuary, my month long challenge of eating like a vegan.
I have to say it went much better than I expected – but then again I did expect it to be a lot easier and it wasn’t, so actually feeling good about how the challenge went is positive in itself.
I managed all 31 days having only made one slip up.
So what are my conclusions having completed this challenge?
- Vegan is without doubt a good challenge to take on because it really questions your moral and ethical intentions about food. Saying I wanted to become vegetarian and actually taking on veganism is something altogether miles apart.
- I had no idea before starting this that there is so much lactose in food! It’s in pretty much everything that comes in a packet.
- Planning is without doubt a necessity to this challenge, but unless you plan for the entire household at the same time you’re going to come across difficulties along the road. I’ll tell you more about that a bit later.
- My food bill halved every single week
- I ate the most healthy, delicious foods
- I learnt to cook new recipes
- I also ate the most unhealthy foods. Eating vegan-esk crap was easier to do than I had imagined.
- Vegan and vegetarian diets are not exempt from awful processed foods and need to be avoided at all costs, but because they are also extremely convenient they can be hard to avoid.
- The vegan community is very supportive of one another. They basically need to be because so much negativity gets thrown their way. All of which is completely unfounded from my experience. However vegetarians should not be shunned because I feel this is still an extremely positive lifestyle in itself.
- I didn’t loose weight because of how my body is structured, against the quantities of bread and potatoes I was eating but others have reported to which is good.
- I did not have any energy level issues what so ever. Not once did I feel faint, lethargic or overly tired. In fact when I did have a healthy meal I felt incredibly well and even managed to knock 2 minutes of my 5k running time.
- I would be happy to do another month long challenge but I wouldn’t profess to coming out of this round as a fully fledged vegan.
In some respects I feel disappointed I haven’t come out of this challenge as a hard and fast non-animal eating human and I can’t even tell you why that is. I haven’t missed meat, nor fish. I can cook enough vegan meals to sustain me and I know what staples of food to buy. But sometimes I think if you live with others the effort it takes to make such a big change is almost too much.
Yes that can be taken as me choosing the easier option but I fully admit it.
So for now, until I come up with a plan, for the whole household and not just me, meat will remain in my diet. Not nearly the quantities I used to eat, but still.
You see the main drawback in the end to this challenge wasn’t the brick wall I hit halfway through, nor was it those I knew to be on the same challenge suddenly giving up half way, nor was it the negativity I heard about doing this. In the end the worst part was my partner who was struggling more than me to cook meals for one. We hadn’t planned that side of it. We’d both been so intent on getting my food stocks and planning all my meals we hadn’t gone through what my partner was going to do. So by week four cooking anything meaningful was becoming tiresome and tedious. For a couple that usually shares the cooking we were not only eating separate food groups but eating at different times. In fact in the end the only meals we shared was on a Sunday when I’d just eat everything but the meat, but of course we can’t eat roast dinners every day. Yes I should be inspiring my family to join my side but by hitting the brick wall halfway through I wasn’t inspiring anyone to leave meat behind!
It always amazes me that the challenge you think you’re taking on isn’t the real one. The real challenge manifests in all sorts of other places and finally reveals itself in a guise you’d never even imagined. That’s why I love taking on challenges.
It makes you think.
Did you complete Veganuary? How did you find it? What made you stay Vegan?
I think it is good to challenge ourselves and thus gain valuable new perspectives. Fantastic work😊.
Thank you Helen. It was certainly an experience!
I’m still an avowed omnivore. But also a less-ivore. (I love making up words.) By that I mean that I eat less overall, and particularly less meat. Sometimes, weeks at a time, we have a meat main dish every day (usually many ounces smaller than restaurants would have us believe we need), but then I’ll do the same thing with vegetarian foods. My (recently turned-vegetarian) sister has shared a great concept with me: meat as a condiment*. I find this helps satisfy the real meat-lovers in the house, without myself having more meat than I want.
*e.g. a single two-ounce sausage in a crumb-based stuffing for veg for four, or maybe just strained stock with no meat left as the basis for a soup.