As part of my bucket list challenge I vowed to complete 30 days of veganism.
I have an extremely love/hate relationship with food and dieting. Sometimes I love cutting out different food groups to see if it makes any changes to me physically or mentally, other times I turn into a 23 year old demon, crying because she forgot to do her laundry and now she’ll have to wear bikini bottoms to work. Just me? Cool.
What a fun and controversial topic veganism is. We’ve got the die hard social media enthusiasts living on a diet of kale, sweet potato and mashed avocado, moaning about how cruel we all are for eating animal products and we should all be ashamed. Oh boohoo. On the other we’ve got those of us whose day isn’t complete until they’ve eaten a whole block of cheese and had bacon for at least two out of three meals, blissfully unaware of the impact their excessive animal consumption has on our planet (I hate to be this person but supposedly 91% of amazon destruction is due to animal agriculture – and I seriously love the Amazon). So anyway it’s a controversial topic, and when I casually (as you do) mentioned to people that I was attempting 30 days of veganism I was generally met with an aggressive, ‘why?!’. Not a polite ‘why’, but a provocative ‘I’m-ready-for-a-debate why’. And if there’s one thing I can rarely be bothered to do, it’s have a debate, so sorry everyone.
I thought I would attempt 30 days of veganism for two reasons.
Firstly, because I love to be good at things. Like, absolutely love it. And if I am able to inspire anyone to do anything then ever better. Succeeding at challenges makes me feel good about myself. I love pushing myself and completing things and just generally feeling like a top gal who can accomplish pretty much anything.
Secondly, I think we all know the impact the meat and dairy industry has on the environment. If you don’t, then watch Cowspiracy, or else read some of these quite disturbing facts. Whilst I absolutely love cheese, yoghurt, steak, the whole shabang (in South America I pretty much only ate meat and cheese), I know that we cannot carry on treating the earth the way we are and we should all love the Earth despite all the shit that goes on and try to protect it from all the big bad humans trying to destroy it. OK hippy rant over.
Here are some little FAQs so that you don’t have to ask me in person, because I’ve obviously turned into a animal and plant loving fanatic who injects almond milk into her veins and will probably try to convert you. And no one wants that.
How did I get on?
Well pretty darn well if you ask me. In fact, I’d go as far as to say I absolutely smashed it. Not only am I feeling far less guilty about the food I put in my mouth – and we all know I suffer from chronic guilt about absolutely everything, I am now free to eat as many cheeseburgers as I like and not feel bad about it.
Have I had any cravings?
In my whole 30 days of veganism I have had no cravings whatsoever, not even when Matt cooked halloumi and I just sat in the corner and ate my kale. This makes me think that maybe I’m not as much of a meat and dairy girl as I make myself out to be. In fact, I honestly feel like I could do this forever and were it not for the mental breakdowns that would be had if I were to announce this to those who cook for me (thanks Dad lol) I probably would continue. I absolutely loved being a vegan, and it wasn’t nearly as hard as I expected it to be.
Did I lose any weight?
I try not to weigh myself ever because that is a slippery slope and there’s always the potential that I’ll turn into a raving lunatic SO I have no idea. But my clothes feel pretty good and I don’t hate myself when I look in the mirror so that’s always a plus.
What did I eat?
This is a hard one for me to answer because I probably don’t eat like a normal person, so am not really equipped to give anyone eating advice. Whilst of course I know there is no ‘normal’ way to eat, if there was, my eating habits definitely wouldn’t qualify.
For breakfast I switched it up a bit, usually smashed avocado on toast because that’s the done thing nowadays, sometimes banana mashed up on toast with peanut butter which is the dream, or occasionally just fruit because I wake up at 5.15am and who has time to toast anything that early?
For lunch I would have soup with no milk or cream – the day I discovered a soup with coconut milk in from Sainsbury’s was the best day of my life because HELLO dairy but not actually dairy. I also found a salad which I ate every day for a week and then got sick of it and so did my bank balance. The salad contained quinoa, cashew nuts, edamame beans, some other veggies and soy sauce (I just quickly googled to check that soy sauce is vegan friendly and it turns out it’s actually not because of something to do with animal cruelty so what a waste of time this whole experiment was and please stop reading now).
Moving on from that sudden heartbreaking revelation, for dinner I would have salad, potatoes, veggies and whatever I could find in the fridge that wasn’t a dead animal. Snacks were Nakd bars which were my favourite snack even when I used to eat a kilogram of cheese each day so that definitely says something about their deliciousness.
Instead of my usual English breakfast tea or coffee I would have a soya cappuccino in the morning and then green tea for the rest of the day. I’m fully aware the excessive green tea drinking may be one of the reasons I feel so damn healthy and smug.
Did I get hungry?
Like any normal person, I did occasionally get hungry, although I wouldn’t really say this is a side effect of veganism, more just a side effect of, well, being alive. Like any normal person I batted away this hunger by eating excessive amounts of toast smothered in peanut butter and jam. Am I right?
Did it make eating out hard?
Surprisingly no, and here’s something controversial, it actually made eating out easier. Instead of 30 different menu choices, I probably had 3 choices. Out of these 3 choices, probably 2 of them would originally contain some animal products which would have be taken out by the chef, and no one wants to be that person (I’ve waitressed, I know the pain). So, effectively I would only have one choice. I don’t eat out that much, I think I only did twice in the whole 30 days of veganism, but both times I found it pretty easy.
The first time was the Rio street food van on South Bank (debatable whether this counts as actually eating ‘out’ but technically it is outside). Here I had sweet potato fries and guacamole with chips and it was cracking. The second was a work lunch and no one wants to be the fussy vegan in the office, so I silently prayed that my veggie green Thai curry wouldn’t have dairy in it and luckily it didn’t.
As someone who despises making any sort of food-related decisions and would rather just not eat than have to actually choose what to eat, this suited me perfectly as I just had to shut up and make do, a philosophy I think many more people should live by.
How did I get enough protein?
The thing most people worry about when it comes to a plant based diet is protein. We all need protein to get shredded, stay full and just generally function as a human being. Vegan diets are no different. I ate a LOT of humous, lots of beans and a huge amount of peanut butter. Whilst I’m not sure that this is the healthiest way to get your daily protein intake, it worked because I had plenty more energy than usual. I have also recently started Kayla Itsines’ bikini body guides which I believe are just as torturous as they would be had I been eating meat twice a day.
Would I recommend doing this?
Yes, yes and yes. A million times over. I feel so much healthier and clearer, that’s physically and mentally. Even if you don’t care about the environment or animal welfare (no judgement), just give this a go to see if it makes any difference to your health and energy levels. I was really surprised at how much more energy I had throughout the day and just how much ‘cleaner’ I felt in general. I don’t advocate ‘clean’ eating because that too, is a slippery slope, but it did feel good to only eat the ‘good fats’. I had no guilt eating an entire avocado or half a tub of peanut butter which is quite miraculous for me.
Will I carry this on?
I have now been officially ‘off’ my diet for 24 hours and I still haven’t eaten meat or dairy so this says it all really. I have no cravings for it and have somehow convinced myself that when I do finally eat them I will get ill. I’m sure this isn’t true and I just need to man up and dive head first into a wheel of Camembert but it’s easier said than done when I have spent the last 30 days avoiding cheese like the plague.
Whether I have a full on animal-product binge or not, 30 days of veganism has definitely made me more conscious about my eating habits. I know now that realistically, we don’t need to eat animal products to live a healthy lifestyle, so if I do have the option to eat something else I will.
Whilst I fully advocate enjoying food and eating whatever you want, even avoiding meat and dairy just one day a week can make a huge difference. I know how important it is to support local farmers because it’s such a tough industry, but eating vegan has really opened my eyes to some of the issues in trying to meet the unbelievable demand for meat and dairy. I would encourage everyone to try doing something similar even just for a short time, because I honestly think the pros (increased health and energy levels, plus you’re sort of saving the planet) outweigh the taste of your cheeseburger.