MY 6 WEEK VEGAN CHALLENGE
I have really enjoyed the 6 week vegan challenge I gave myself. Even though I didn’t stick to it 100%, I feel I gave it a good shot but have realised that veganism is very hard to adhere to when you are not in control of your choices i.e. eating out at restaurants or in social situations with friends. It is also very hard to make healthy food choices if you are a vegan, especially if you are not preparing the food yourself.
It made me realise quite a few things.
- I miss yoghurt, feta, halloumi, eggs and salmon. These were things that I found I ended up eating especially during the last week.
- If I am given the choice of an unhealthy vegan option or a healthy non-vegan option, I would rather chose the healthier non-vegan option.
- I have thought more about the welfare of animals and the mass production of dairy and am definitely happy with my choice to keep my consumption of these to an absolute minimum. The kids are now on plant milk and the only dairy we have is natural yoghurt, cheddar and parmesan.
- I am very happy to give up meat for now. I don’t miss it and going forwards will always choose the vegetarian or vegan options in a restaurant.
- I can feed my family vegan food without them noticing. Which a year ago didn’t feel I was able to. We now eat vegan pancakes, bolognese, lasagne, they drink plant milk, they eat hummus most days and to be honest, apart from sausages and maybe a little chicken (organic, home reared from the local butcher), are not big meat eaters anyway.
- Eating a (90%!) plant based vegan diet has introduced me to new fridge staples such as chickpea ‘tuna’ mayo, which is great on rice cakes!
The real challenges I faced were these:
Two weeks in, I attended a 40th birthday party. I didn’t realise the food had been pre-ordered and therefore hadn’t been able to order a vegan/vegetarian option. For starter I was presented with a plate of chicken and prawn skewers (Thai restaurant) and for main course, more prawns, chicken and beef. I ate my starter but for main had a couple of prawns then mainly veg & rice. I was amongst new friends and wasn’t prepared to sit there and say, “I am being vegan for the next 6 weeks so I am not going to eat this”. It was not the time or social circumstance in which to be awkward!
My next challenge was our family trip to New York. I wasn’t able to cook/make any food as we were staying in a hotel for 5 days. Therefore we had to eat out at every meal. I managed to eat mainly vegan dishes but ate eggs one morning as there really wasn’t any other choice, I had some parmesan on a pizza and someone cooked me a tuna steak which I couldn’t turn down as would have been rude since he didn’t know I was doing this challenge. Oh and we went to this amazing place for brunch were I couldn’t resist the smoked salmon on pumpernickel bagel…. It was a famous smoked fish restaurant and yep, you guessed it, no vegan savoury options. Most vegan breakfast/brunch options are sweet in restaurants and I don’t have a very sweet tooth, so would prefer not to make that choice. In which case I am happier choosing the vegetarian option in that situation.
I managed to keep to the challenge when at home and in control of my choices. And I am getting better at adapting recipes to make them more tasty and family friendly. Last year, I would not have lasted this long as was just not ready to change so much at once. I found the thought overwhelming. But a year on and having been mainly plant based for all of this year, little by little I have made the changes necessary to suit me and my family. Hubby has also started his meat free journey and so far so good….
In my final week of this challenge, I found myself introducing feta, yoghurt and eggs again mainly because we had the food to finish up before we went on holiday and secondly, I missed these foods so decided to re-introduce them. I still like following a mainly plant based diet as the amount of fruit and vegetables I have consumed has increased greatly. I have also lost weight and my psoriasis has totally cleared up since giving up alcohol and adopting a more plant based diet.
The moral of the story? Eat more fruit and veg! Follow a mainly plant based diet and you can’t go wrong. You don’t have to commit to being a vegan to reap the benefits of a plant based diet. It’s great if that’s what you’ve decided to do, but it hasn’t worked for me 100% yet – not to say I won’t try this again though. It’s definitely been enlightening! I found giving up the alcohol easier than I did trying to be a committed vegan, so I know I can stick to something, but maybe it’s not my time to be a vegan (yet…)!