Have you ever had a great idea, only to realize someone has thought of the very same idea? I suppose it is only fitting that in a world with 7 billion people, someone has not only thought of my idea but improved upon it. This was Veganuary.
A Meat Eater Goes Vegan For 1 Month And This Happened
An Idea formed in my mind near late December, born from overindulging in sugar-laden treats and meat filled dinners, to embrace Veganism for the month of January.
Such a great idea it was, that when I started researching “Vegan in the month of January” up comes the termVeganuary.
Granted there is nothing earth-shattering unique about eating vegan for one month, but a nonprofit group based in the UK had the idea to bring awareness to the benefits of a plant-based diet and call it Veganuary.
My unique idea had already been created and with clever marketing, given the name “Veganuary.” Admittedly this is far more creative that I could ever be.
Related: Don’t miss my last food adventure. June Weight Loss Challenge.
To test the waters, I hinted at the idea of a Vegan January on Instagram, where I found a fellow blogger, Budget Epicurean, who was also going toss her hat into the Vegan January Challenge. I had a partner in crime for my crazy diet challenge and there was no turning back.
My Diet Before Veganuary
I am lucky that my diet has never been constrained by food allergies or food intolerances. While I have reduced the amount of meat I eat in my diet over the years, I have no problem with occasionally eating a steak or hamburger. I seldom drink milk, except when I indulge in a late night bowl of cereal.
The First Week Was The Hardest
Veganuary turned my normal diet on its head. I went from eating a protein-rich egg scramble for breakfast to eating a carbohydrate-laden bowl of oatmeal. During the inaugural week, I felt constantly hungry. But humans are adaptable and adapt I did.
Prior to Veganuary, I may have harbored some food insecurity. Silly as it may sound, I would eat larger portions than necessary because I knew it would be a handful of hours until my next meal. During Veganuary, I learned to let go of that insecurity and pack more snacks. A handful of almonds or some hummus and vegetables were my go-to snacks. I found that several small snacks curbed my appetite to the point I was eating drastically smaller meals for lunch and dinner.
My normal routine during January became snacks for breakfast and lunch and a sit-down meal for dinner.
Since my wife enjoys a mostly vegan diet, she excitedly researched and prepared vegan dinners for us to try. Some of our meals were great, like the Spanish vegan bowls and some were just meh, like the cauliflower curry soup! I never complained though as this whole adventure was my idea, to begin with.
My two children (boys) were not at all entertained by my antics, to eat vegan for one month. For much of the month, we prepared similar but separate meals for our children. If we were making a curry we would add chicken breast to the meal for our boys. They seemed to get along just fine with this arrangement.
We found 4 to 5 meals we really liked and put those on rotation. Here is just a sampling of the meals we grew to love. It was hard to pick a favorite but the Butternut Squash Curry and the Flatbread Pizza Salad were at the top of the list.
Oatmeal with blueberries and whipped coconut milk
Avocado Vegan Toast
Butternut Squash Curry Stir Fry in a Classy Christmas Bowl
Vegan Spanish Rice Bowl
Flatbread Pizza Salad
The Effect On My Physical And Mental Health
I was initially worried in the first few days of Veganuary that I would eventually feel fatigue and malaise. Due to near-constant hunger in the first week along with the number of miles I was running, I feared I would eventually feel faint. I was pleasantly surprised, this was not a symptom I experienced.
In week 2, I increased the number of mid-meal snacks and my hunger subsided. I never felt tired or fatigued; I mean, any more than I normally do on my back to back 12 hours nurse shifts.
Although my goal was not to lose weight, I was pleasantly surprised I lost 8.6 pounds in 31 days. To my dismay, there are numerous vegan junk foods. Donuts, cakes, and ice cream are still readily available to the vegan diet in animal-free concoctions. I abstained from these treats during January and opting for massive amounts of fruits and vegetables.
If I could carry one habit forward from Veganuary It would be to keep eating the large amounts of vegetables and fruit.
One Month Can Change Your Food Habits
The philosopher and poet, George Santayana, once said, Habit is stronger than reason. Well, as it turns out, one month was just enough time to break my bad eating habits.
Overeating because I was afraid of the duration between meals is dumb. Needing meat to feel full is also dumb.
Prior to Veganuary, I had a mental quirk that made me believe a meal was not complete unless it had meat. One month later, I am still alive and here to tell you, dinners with meat as the centerpiece are not necessary. Some argue meatless meals, without that protein bomb, will not keep your hunger at bay. However, I learned that eating a small (healthy) snack a few hours later solves this problem entirely.
What started as a fun food experiment, became something enjoyable for our family and changed my view of eating. You can argue the merits of going veganism all day long, but for me, it was about leaning into discomfort and trying something new.
I knew turning my diet on its head would be uncomfortable. Going from a meat-filled, protein-rich menu to a plant-based diet took some adjustment, but I adapted and grew to enjoy some of the meals.
My wife plans to continue her vegan diet while I have chosen to occasionally add back in lean proteins like chicken breast. By the way, the thing I missed most during Veganuary was half-n-half for my morning coffee.