To Vegan Or Not To Vegan – End of 30 Day Challenge

August 2, 2011 § 19 Comments

Well I officially did it! I successfully completed my 30 day vegan challenge. I’m actually quite shocked I made it through. There were so many times I wanted to crack, but I didn’t. What did the challenge do for me? Well, I wanted to lose weight – bingo, 5+ pounds lost. I may have actually lost closer to 7 but I didn’t write down my original weight so can’t really remember the exact number. But I can tell you all my clothes are falling down. I tried new food groups and opened my horizons. I’m a notoriously picky eater and I ordered so many things out in restaurants I never would have tried before. Now, you’re supposed to get tons of energy on this diet – did that happen for me? Well, I wouldn’t jump to say tons but definitely a good amount is fair. Overall I feel pretty good.

The only question is: what now? Do I remain a vegan, or go back to the way things were? Well, I haven’t quite decided that yet. For now, until I figure it out, I’m going to stick to my vegan challenge.

So if you’re thinking of undertaking a vegan challenge, here’s 10 secrets to help you make it through.

10 secrets to a successful vegan challenge:

  1. Know your reason know why you are doing this. I didn’t really have a good reason and everyone will ask you why you’re doing it – your mom, friends, strangers, and everyone will tell you that you’re not getting enough calcium or meat. It’s easier to keep going strong when you get these answers sorted out from the beginning.
  2. Stock up – Keep your kitchen and your bag well stocked with fresh fruits and veggies. The more fresh produce you have on hand the less likely you are to be tempted to fill up on junk food or crack under pressure. Don’t forget fresh herbs and spices – they go a long way and mean the difference between blah and great food. Also, be ready to have a few favorite things on hand at all times for when you’ve got cravings or are wanting to give up. My go to items were chips and salsa, roasted red pepper hummus, and dark chocolate coated almonds.
  3. Find your vegan friendly alternatives – Simple things like coffee creamer go a long way and keep you from longing for your comforts, one of mine being coffee. Almost anything you love probably has a vegan alternative (OK, besides meat) – I found coconut milk creamer and ice cream that I love as much if not more than the real deal. Start reading labels and you will find there is more out there that’s vegan friendly than you realize.
  4. Try new foods – I tried so many new things on this challenge. I’m ordering mushrooms, beets and eggplant while out – that’s a first! I cooked up kale and purple sweet potatoes and loved them both.
  5. Get creative and be open – Dying for pizza? Order or make one with vegan friendly crust, great toppings and skip the cheese – its good! Making a creamy soup? Add roasted cauliflower instead of cream.
  6. Ask for help and beware of ingredients – When eating out ask the Chef – they will usually come up with something special that is not even on the menu. Don’t be afraid to ask what’s in a dish, you’ll be surprised at what can be made vegan with just one switch – or what has animal by-products in it that you wouldn’t have guessed. There’s usually more vegan options than you realize at first glance.
  7. Avoid being a carbivore – It’s so easy to rely on pasta during this challenge. There are times when you just get hungry. But try and stay on top of snacks and lots of fresh produce to avoid going overboard with the carbs.
  8. Find your resources – I could not have eaten out without this handy site – I pretty much referenced it every single time I ate out at a chain restaurant. My favorite go to items which I love vegan or not are a veggie bowl at Chipotle with rice, black beans, fajita peppers, tomato, and corn and the Mediterranean Veggie Sandwich at Panera without feta.
  9. Don’t be too hard on yourself – Take your challenge seriously but at the same time be realistic. There may be times you cheat by accident or have no option. Realize the big change you’re making. Real vegans cut out all animal by-products which can include enzymes and all sorts of crazy things you’ve never even thought about. As you get started stick to avoiding the basics: meat, seafood, stocks, eggs, and dairy. If you slip, don’t beat yourself up too hard. Just give it your best effort.
  10. Share the challenge publicly – Share publicly and commit to the challenge or at least have one person to hold you accountable. There were many times I wanted to quit but this blog kept me going – even though I knew not many were reading it, just the fact it was out there I didn’t want to fail.

I think this 30 day vegan challenge brought great things for me – it opened my mind and palate. I’d encourage anyone to give it a try to feel healthier, try new things, or at least just sympathize with the vegans living in a mostly non-vegan world!

(All photos in this post are from a delicious meal I enjoyed at Harth at the Hilton McLean, thanks to asking the Chef for some vegan friendly options)

Update: See my post on five easy ways to reduce your dairy consumption

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