Monday, February 1, 2016

30 Days Vegan // Tips and Experience

One of my 101 in 1001 goals was to go vegan for a month.  I figured, after all of the holiday gluttony, and with a relatively quiet schedule, January would be perfect.  Though I didn't have any specific goals or ideas about how the month would go, I was pleasantly surprised pretty quickly.  Within the first 5 days, I noticed clearer skin, more energy and less digestive discomfort. Below are tips on how to try it out, and more details on my experience.

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Tips //

Start from Zero - I think one of the most helpful things for me was to completely clear out my kitchen of anything non-vegan.  Because I was coming back from the holidays, it was a lot easier, but I doubt I would have been able to stick with the change if there had been any temptations.  No cheese, no problems (except for not having cheese, that kind of sucked).

Break Habits - Prior to this month, my breakfast was always the same and not vegan friendly.  When I decided to do this, I knew I needed to make a new routine, and ended up deciding on protein pancakes.  The change was easy enough to make and something I'll stick with moving forward.  I also accidentally gave up coffee and black tea, because I don't like either without milk.  While I'm excited to add them back in, it was nice to be reminded of my love for herbal tea options.

Stay Stocked - I keep a running list of quick dinners that I frequently rely on.  At the end of January, I made a new list and made sure to stock up on easy options (pre-cooked tofu, veggie burgers, beans). I knew that stress/limited time would automatically turn me towards mac and cheese or something else easy, so I needed to prepare for that.  There were a handful of days over the month that would have interrupted the streak, if not for easily accessible, vegan meals.

Experience //

Time Commitment - Going into the month, I assumed that being vegan would take more time. So many vegetables, so much prep.  In reality, I actually found myself spending less time in the kitchen than before.  If pressed, I would chuck a bunch of vegetables in a steamer and add tofu. So easy.  Once I got in the rhythm of things, meals came together much faster, which I think, in part, was due to more limited options - no decision fatigue.

Budget - This month was definitely more expensive than others.  Most of my budget went into fresh fruits and vegetables, which I don't mind spending money on, but it was still spendy.  In retrospect, I went a little overboard in the beginning and definitely didn't need to stock up like I did, but it will make it easier for me to keep this up later.

Wellness - Again, I didn't really expect any significant changes.  In fact, when I did realize I felt better, I was vaguely annoyed because that meant I should eat less cheese. Ew.  In actuality, I definitely felt much better. Less bloated, more energetic.

Now that I've made it through a full month, I do think I'll stick with a vegan diet about 80% of the time.  Basically, milk in my tea/coffee and the occasional dairy in food.  It's got to be worth it, especially as it's now pretty uncomfortable after I eat it.  I'm looking forward to putting the few things I've missed back into rotation, but don't feel like gratuitous dairy is going to be a part of my diet from now on.

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