At the beginning of November I set out to go 30 days on the plant-based diet. I’m going to start this post by saying that I failed epically at this challenge. I did 20/30 days completely vegan then the cravings for fish tacos got out of control. I eventually caved in on a dreary Thursday November afternoon….then quit the challenge altogether. Eating vegan was easy at first, but got increasingly harder as the month progressed – especially when I started going out to eat at restaurants.
Breakfast was particularly easy – I’m used to drinking a Vegan smoothie without much thought made from Vega protein powder, almond milk, spinach and/or kale, and a banana. Lunch wasn’t too difficult either..It was the dinners that I really struggled with. I’m embarrassed to admit that I failed at this challenge and hoping the next time I give it a try, I can go for longer and better prepare myself.
For my 20 days Vegan and after some reflection, here’s a short list of some discoveries:
- Eating Vegan Forced Me to Eat More Vegetables
I almost instantly felt better by eating a ton more vegetables. I did my share of research before starting this diet and was surprised to learn the amount of protein there was in vegetables and started incorporating 3-4 servings in every one of my meal. I also started throwing together a bunch of random vegetables in my NutriBullet and a small piece of fruit to sweeten it up a bit. The concoction I drank the most was a combination of celery, apple, spinach, kale, and swiss chard. Yes, it was difficult to get down some days, but I felt incredible afterwards. My body felt lighter, I digested my food a lot quicker and I had way more energy then I normally would.
2. Food Started Tasting Better
Not only did I eliminate meat and animal by-products, but also tried eating only whole foods and removing as much processed garbage as I could. I tried buying more organic fruits and vegetables and noticed a huge difference when it came to taste. Vegetables and fruits starting tasting sweeter and I felt like I didn’t need the accompaniment of sauces and condiments to make my food taste good. My favourite lunch was a simple stirfy with kale, sweet potato, and black beans cooked with a bit of coconut oil. Super simple and super delicious.
3. Going Out to Eat is Really Hard
Although there’s now a ton of Vegan restaurants, I found it very difficult to find plant-based meals at pretty much every other restaurant I went to unless I opted for the house salad with balsamic dressing. There were a ton of vegetarian options available – that wasn’t the problem. I never realized how many veggie burgers had eggs in them. Anyways, I ended up having to make a bunch of modifications – I didn’t enjoy my meals and loathed having to pay $15+ for something I could make a million times better at home. Now I see why a lot of vegans make their own meals. One afternoon, I went out for lunch at a pub and ordered hummus and pita and edamame for lunch – the pita came out covered in garlic butter and I had to send it back. Who puts garlic butter on pita that comes with hummus? Another time I went out to get an asian stir fry – had to substitute the chow mein noodles for rice and remove the meat. I ended up getting a plate with a small portion of vegetables drowned in a super sugary sauce. Needless to say I paid $20 for that meal and felt very sick after. I did go to more Vegan restaurants then I ever had and loved the selection. I found the price to be a lot more expensive though. Overall, I was forced to cook more at home which isn’t a bad thing. I had to dedicate a lot more time to making my own meals then I normally would.
4. I Started Getting Bored of the Food
After 2 weeks on the plant-based diet I didn’t have the time to really research and create unique meals every time I ate. I ended up eating a lot of leftovers and the same things every day. At the start of the challenge, I told myself that I wanted to stay away from a lot of soy-based products, but found myself eating more and more soy as the challenge progressed including processed vegan foods. I needed variety so bad and ain’t willing to put in more time to find new meals and cook more. Soy and processed vegan foods are very convenient. I noticed that when I ate more of these foods, I felt shittier. All the benefits of eating more vegetables and whole foods in terms of energy levels were out the window. When I wasn’t feeling good to really enjoying the foods anymore, I decided to quit the challenge. It was my own fault and I should’ve planned better.
Overall I loved the idea of the Vegan diet, but found it really hard to stick to. I have a bit of an extremist personality and like to go all in when I set a goal with no wiggle room for error. For the rest of the challenge and up to this day, I’m still eating at least one vegan meal a day. In retrospect I should’ve probably started incorporating the meals more slowly – maybe just eliminating meat first then animal by-products. I’m definitely going to try this again. I loved the way it made me feel. My skin was clear and had a healthier glow to it, energy levels were super high and I felt lighter and more nimble on my runs. I have so much respect for people who’ve fully adapted the vegan diet – it’s definitely not easy.