It’s my final day of being vegan (yes I planned this so I would finish right before Thanksgiving). What I thought would be the longest month of my life actually went by surprisingly fast. It was an eye-opening experience to say the least and I learned so much. Here are my 5 major takeaways from this endeavor and my goals moving forward.
*If you haven’t already, explore the blog to see my journey in going vegan for the last month.
1. If you want to try the vegan diet, you need to commit for AT LEAST 3 weeks to see how you really feel
For the first two weeks, my stomach was a mess. I didn’t really start seeing the effects until week 3. Once I reached week 3, I felt lighter and more energetic. I no longer experienced bloating or that heavy feeling I used to get after eating. Your body needs time to process and adjust to a diet that’s completely plant-based. On social media, I often see people go vegan for a day or for a week and their experience is negative because they don’t dedicate enough time for their body to transition. Plus, 3-4 weeks isn’t as much time as you think. Personally, I found it helpful to focus on the idea that this was a temporary change and a personal experiment that was meant to better my health and broaden my perspective.
2. Just because it’s Vegan, doesn’t mean it’s healthy
I believe that if you are going to go vegan, you need to do it right. By that I mean, it is crucial to prioritize whole-food, colorful ingredients that meet nutritional requirements. Others that take on this diet, rely on processed alternatives in order to feel full. People often see the Vegan stamp on a product label and assume it’s healthy which is not the case. Some of these vegan products undergo a lot of processing and include several additives which can be harmful to your health. Reading nutrition labels is a necessary habit, not only on the vegan diet, but in any personal health journey.
3. It takes a lot of discipline and commitment, but once you find your groove it becomes SO easy
I think a lot of people are scared to try out the vegan diet or any lifestyle change because it seems too difficult. There are a lot of intimidating factors like food cravings, finding new and interesting things to eat, and reading labels. Once I figured out a system that worked for me, I found the vegan lifestyle to be very doable. Soon enough, I no longer had anxiety towards preparing vegan dishes. I even stopped craving meat and dairy, which I never expected to happen. I also believe it’s important to have a friend or mentor that’s vegan or going vegan with you. Having this kind of support and inspiration throughout your journey can really improve your overall experience.
4. I seriously expanded my palette and cooking skills
People often view vegan as a restrictive lifestyle approach, I found it was the complete opposite. After only a month, I tried ingredients and cooking methods I would have never considered trying before. At first, I was terrified to cook tofu and tempeh. Now I love incorporating these ingredients into my everyday meals. Nutritionally, having a wide variety of ingredients and colors is extremely beneficial. Cooking vegan meals really pushed me to be creative and my nutrient intake was better as a result.
5. Convenience is the hardest obstacle with being vegan
Even though I am a self-proclaimed meal prep queen, there are days where I have no energy to cook. This was a major obstacle for the last month because the convenience products available are limited and the quality can be pretty poor. Especially with travel, I found search engines to be unhelpful in finding vegan options and the fatigue that comes with travel can seriously impact your experience.
My goal going forward is to maintain a plant based diet for 75% of the time, and for the other 25% allow myself to enjoy things like fish, cheese, and eggs. When I reached the end of this month, I thought to myself: wow, I could keep doing this. Having this experience has seriously broadened my palette and my perspective. I want to continue to explore vegan recipes and incorporate plant-based meals into my lifestyle. At the same time, if I am out to dinner and I really want chicken or fish, I am going to let myself have it. I seriously admire vegans and I had a great experience this past month, but I am excited to incorporate back some of the animal sources that I simply can't live without. Ultimately, I care about eating a healthy diet and I care about the planet. I think the 30 Day Vegan Challenge is a great opportunity for people to broaden their palette, improve their health, and help reduce their carbon footprint. If you’re debating on going vegan or making a lifestyle change, I absolutely recommend trying it out.
For now, I am going to go celebrate by indulging in Thanksgiving dinner with my family. Happy Holidays and happy eating!