Veganuary: a chance to properly detox your body, or a vegan recruitment drive taking advantage of our desire for ‘new year, new me’? Well, to be honest, it’s probably a bit of both, but as I’d been considering a vegan lifestyle for a while now I thought I’d give it a go.
Here are my thoughts of going vegan for a month, as well as the challenges I found and benefits I felt.
Let’s start with a bit of background. I’ve spoken briefly before about my struggle with as yet undiagnosed digestive issues. For a long time I’ve suffered from stomach cramps, bloating, pain and general unwellness without knowing exactly what’s wrong with me. I’ve tried pretty much every diet combo imaginable: gluten free, vegetarian, low fat, low carb… the list goes on! So going vegan for a while didn’t seem too much of a challenge.
Avo-cardio pyjamas: Shein
Going vegan is so cheap
A common misconception of vegan food is that it’s expensive. While you can go mad on fancy supplements and ‘health foods’ (matcha powder and acai concentrate, I’m looking at you) but, funny old thing, these foods aren’t essential for a vegan diet. As veganism is so trendy right now lots of brands are trying to jump on the bandwagon, but look past the clever marketing. Smartprice unsweetened soya milk and own-brand pulses were my go to. I spent about £20 a week for all my food on a vegan diet, and ya girl likes to eat.
Protein is everywhere
In the past I’ve found myself obsessing over my protein intake, and that was my main fear about going vegan. But after doing lots of research I’ve realised I don’t need to eat over a hundred grams of protein a day (even when weightlifting) and that there’s more to a balanced diet than hitting macro goals. Vegan foods such as wholewheat pasta contain a generous serve of protein, and even the seemingly small amount in veggies like broccoli all adds up. I found it easy to get protein into breakfast in the form of porridge or beans on toast, and at dinner by making a lentil curry or thai tofu noodles, but lunch wasn’t as straightforward.
Lunch is tricky
Of all the meals in the day, I found lunch the hardest. I need meals that travel well, ideally can be eaten cold, and will fill me up until dinner. Previously I’d make something like a seasoned chicken breast with homemade potato salad. But falafel just isn’t as filling (and I LOVE falafel). I have however expanded my soup repertoire, which has helped up my daily veggie count. Any convenient vegan lunch options feel free to send my way!
Fresh fruit and veggies = good tummy vibes
Who would have thought that eating healthily is actually good for you? Seriously though, I really felt the good vibes eating vegan food. I think it’s because this kind of diet makes it hard to overindulge as vegetables and pulses are naturally filling and low fat. More significantly, however, is I noticed that when I didn’t stick to a vegan diet I really felt aware of it. Sometimes you don’t know how good you can feel until you try it!
Eating out still isn’t straightforward
Restaurants are making huge strides in their vegan offerings, but there’s still a way to go. I think that’s the main reason I’m not ready to go fully vegan. If I’m going out for a meal I want to enjoy it, not put up with a bland pasta option. Thankfully, a lot of my favourite cuisines – Thai, Indian, Lebanese – lend really well to a plant-based diet, but if I have to go to a restaurant someone else has chosen I won’t let myself go hungry for the sake of being vegan.
Slow and steady wins the race
When I went vegetarian aged 12, I did it gradually over the course of a year or so. For me, this is the best way to introduce a change of diet. I don’t like being told I ‘can’t’ have something, but I find by reducing my intake I stop craving foods. Making positive associations with fresh, wholefoods is much more valuable than demonising animal products.
What are your thoughts on veganism? Have you found any dietary changes have helped your body?
I was gifted the pyjamas in this post. However, all views are my own.