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Vegan for a Month Challenge: My Experience and Outcomes

Updated on November 19, 2017
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I took the Vegan for a Month Challenge out of curiosity, an interest in health, and a desire to live a more humane and compassionate life.

Here's what happened when a meat, cheese, and egg enthusiast tried the Vegan for a Month Challenge.  Are you up for it?  It could change your life!
Here's what happened when a meat, cheese, and egg enthusiast tried the Vegan for a Month Challenge. Are you up for it? It could change your life! | Source

The Vegan for a Month Challenge: It Could Change Your Life

I know what you're thinking. Vegans are super freaking extreme. You probably have a picture in your mind of vegans as ultra-liberal, dope smoking hippie types. They wear Birkenstocks (and not those leather kind either), they don't bathe or shave much, and they're just plain weird. If that's what you're thinking, then it's time to abandon that myth.

While it's possible that some vegans fit your stereotype, most are everyday people like you and me. (Seriously.) I challenged myself to adopt a vegan diet for a month after learning about it from a retired army colonel that I know. He's also a doctor, and every time I saw him he couldn't stop talking about how terrific he felt. He had also lost a substantial amount of weight.

I was a meat, cheese, and egg enthusiast before I tried the Vegan for a Month Challenge, and here are my experience and outcomes. It just might convince you that you could try this too!

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Committing Myself to a Timetable

There's never been a better time to try veganism. You can do anything for a month, can't you? That's especially true if you really challenge yourself.

I picked October for my vegan experiment for two reasons. First, for simplicity, I wanted to start on the first day of a calendar month, and it was already mid-September. Secondly, trying any radical food experiment during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays seemed like I'd be setting myself up for failure. And I'm not into failure.

So October it was—all 31 days of it.

Don't worry.  You're not going to starve.   You can find good stuff to eat like this dish of sauteed cherry tomatoes on angel hair pasta.  Just watch the ingredients listings.
Don't worry. You're not going to starve. You can find good stuff to eat like this dish of sauteed cherry tomatoes on angel hair pasta. Just watch the ingredients listings. | Source

What Do Vegans Eat?

Vegans eat a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, grains, and seeds. They exclude from their diets animal-based products. This includes meats, eggs, cheese, milk, and other dairy products. Most vegans also exclude honey.

I suspect you believe you could never do this. But don't shut down on me yet because that's what I once thought. It took me months to get into the mindset that I could tackle this challenge.

Before I tried the Vegan for a Month Challenge, I had been a devoted chicken enthusiast, known for my Southern fried chicken (so good that my grandma swore it was just like hers), my homemade chicken gnocchi soup, chicken marsala, chicken salad, and many other meat-based recipes. In addition, my father even used to work for a major chicken producer.

I had suddenly given up beef altogether in 1995, and in more recent years, I had been trying to reduce the amount of pork I ate, although I admit I loved bacon. Finally, however, I made the decision that I was up for this Vegan for a Month Challenge. How about you?

Vegans generally have lower body mass indices than their meat-eating counterparts.  A regimen of diet and exercise should work together for a healthy body.
Vegans generally have lower body mass indices than their meat-eating counterparts. A regimen of diet and exercise should work together for a healthy body. | Source

4 Reasons to Go Vegan

There are numerous reasons to try a vegan diet. I'll share four that were important for me.

Health concerns

Health often motivates people to explore veganism. Potential benefits of a vegan diet include

  • reduced risk of Type II diabetes and diminished pain from peripheral neuropathy1
  • lower risk of hypertension2
  • lower cholesterol levels and risk of cardiovascular disease3
  • reduced risk of cancers, including prostate, breast, and colon cancers.4
  • improvement in mental health, including alleviation of symptoms of anxiety, depression, and fatigue5 and
  • reduction in migraines.6

Weight Control

Vegans typically weigh as much as 5-20 lbs. less than their meat-eating counterparts and enjoy a lower body mass index. What's not to love about that?

Environmental Concerns

Almost one-fifth of man-made pollution comes from the meat industry. Additionally, the methane produced by intensively reared livestock adds significantly to greenhouse gasses. Raising animals for slaughter or other food production is also extraordinarily resource intensive in terms of land, fertilizer, and water. This is particularly the case for beef.7

A More Compassionate Existence

If you know anything about the horrors of factory farming, I don't have to tell you about the mutilations and overcrowding that farm animals endure before slaughter. Go read for yourself about how male chicks are often ground up live because they're not egg producers or how male calves are whisked away from their mothers at three days old or younger and put into crates so small they can never turn around, all in the name of veal. And being a female simply means constant impregnation.

During my Vegan for a Month Challenge, these mental images kept me going when I felt my willpower was sagging a bit.

My Personal Motivations

After seeing how a vegan diet had transformed the health of my retired Army Colonel friend, curiosity piqued my interest. My personal motivations were primarily health-related. However, if I ended up losing weight, that was an added bonus.

I felt bloated and sluggish and experienced acid indigestion and digestive problems. I had been having worsening balance problems, neuropathy in both feet, and extreme lethargy as a result of multiple sclerosis, which I've had for nearly 15 years.

Eight months previously I also had tested borderline positive for lupus, and my ankles were bloated and tender, a sign of lupus. I was determined I was not going to have another major illness. From a health standpoint, what did I have to lose from trying a vegan diet?

Another compelling personal motivation was the humane consideration. It was difficult for me to reconcile cuddling with my cats yet eating pigs and chickens. They have the same level of consciousness as the cats I loved. How could I rescue one species and endorse the slaughter of the other? I've always struggled with that. As I learned more about modern factory farming practices and what was actually in my food, I knew I had to give the vegan diet an honest try.

Going Vegan: Integrate These Three Strategies

Eat a Healthy Rainbow of Flavor

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Research has found that people who eat a larger number of vegetables have lower rates of cancer.  Vegans have the lowest rates.My oven roasted pumpkin seeds weren't as beautiful as this, but they were good tasting.  They are a good source of zinc.  You can also roast squash seeds.Rediscover the fresh produce section of your supermarket.Cherries are a terrific source of fiber and contain anthocyanins which ward off certain chronic diseases.Who doesn't love a great fruit salad?Consuming tomatoes either raw or cooked with olive oil (that's the key) increases blood lycopene levels which helps prevent cancer.What's not to love about strawberries?  They are low in calories, high in fiber, vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, folic acid, potassium and they have antioxidants.I'm nuts about mixed nuts!  The combination of omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and fiber will help you feel full and suppress your appetite.Green peppers are an excellent source of Vitamin C and omega-3 and -6 fatty acids.  If you don't like to eat green peppers raw, try adding them to a baked or fried rice dish.
Research has found that people who eat a larger number of vegetables have lower rates of cancer.  Vegans have the lowest rates.
Research has found that people who eat a larger number of vegetables have lower rates of cancer. Vegans have the lowest rates. | Source
My oven roasted pumpkin seeds weren't as beautiful as this, but they were good tasting.  They are a good source of zinc.  You can also roast squash seeds.
My oven roasted pumpkin seeds weren't as beautiful as this, but they were good tasting. They are a good source of zinc. You can also roast squash seeds. | Source
Rediscover the fresh produce section of your supermarket.
Rediscover the fresh produce section of your supermarket. | Source
Cherries are a terrific source of fiber and contain anthocyanins which ward off certain chronic diseases.
Cherries are a terrific source of fiber and contain anthocyanins which ward off certain chronic diseases. | Source
Who doesn't love a great fruit salad?
Who doesn't love a great fruit salad? | Source
Consuming tomatoes either raw or cooked with olive oil (that's the key) increases blood lycopene levels which helps prevent cancer.
Consuming tomatoes either raw or cooked with olive oil (that's the key) increases blood lycopene levels which helps prevent cancer. | Source
What's not to love about strawberries?  They are low in calories, high in fiber, vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, folic acid, potassium and they have antioxidants.
What's not to love about strawberries? They are low in calories, high in fiber, vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, folic acid, potassium and they have antioxidants. | Source
I'm nuts about mixed nuts!  The combination of omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and fiber will help you feel full and suppress your appetite.
I'm nuts about mixed nuts! The combination of omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and fiber will help you feel full and suppress your appetite. | Source
Green peppers are an excellent source of Vitamin C and omega-3 and -6 fatty acids.  If you don't like to eat green peppers raw, try adding them to a baked or fried rice dish.
Green peppers are an excellent source of Vitamin C and omega-3 and -6 fatty acids. If you don't like to eat green peppers raw, try adding them to a baked or fried rice dish. | Source

Fresh Fruits & Vegetables, Nuts & Grains

My crash course in vegan cuisine came down to a three-pronged strategy:

  1. eat fresh fruits & vegetables, as well as nuts and grains
  2. explore new flavor and texture combinations with your own vegan cooking and
  3. try ready-made vegan commercial products.

After so many years of eating processed foods, I had almost abandoned fresh fruits and vegetables in favor of candy, chips, and rich processed sweets at snack time as well as meat-filled biscuits and sandwiches at breakfast and lunch.

The experience of eating strawberries, cherries, apples, carrots, cucumbers and other raw fruits and vegetables again was like rediscovering them. I was amazed at how good an orange could taste.

Flavors of fruits and vegetables were more vivid. They exploded! I looked forward to my salads. If you're one of those people who need to dip your sliced vegetables, there are vegan salad dressings such as Kraft Creamy Italian Dressing. Or try a new vegan dressing!

I also rediscovered the simple joy of oatmeal at breakfast (made without milk). I found snacktime satisfaction in mixed salted nuts, especially pecans and cashews), tried quinoa for the first time, and switched to brown rice. And when we made our jack-o-lanterns for Halloween, I saved the seeds and roasted them. It brought back the childhood memories. This part wasn't about earth-shattering adjustments, just refocusing old habits and getting back on track, minus the animal products.

Cooking Vegan

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Thug Kitchen: The Official Cookbook: Eat Like You Give a F*ck
Thug Kitchen: The Official Cookbook: Eat Like You Give a F*ck

Stop what you're doing right now and order this hilarious and foul-mouthed recipe book. It will help you eat some effing vegetables by providing recipes that tantalize the taste buds in ways you've never imagined! You won't miss the damn meat.

 

Vegan Cooking: Experimenting with New Flavor and Texture Combinations

I couldn't eat just salads, so I knew I was going to have to actually cook something vegan. I found I needed extra time for this, particularly because I wasn't familiar with the ingredients or the recipes. I was also relying on primarily fresh ingredients instead of convenience foods that had left me feeling so unwell.

On my own, I tried a tofu scramble, but whoa, I must have been doing something wrong. I asked my culinary friend, Carb Diva, for help, and she wrote this helpful article on how to cook tofu.

I also turned to the internet for vegan recipe ideas and began experimenting. As a result, I discovered several vegan recipe books, my favorite of which the Thug Kitchen cooking series. What a culinary party!

In addition, I cooked a lot of fresh beans and other vegetables and loved the addition of a spice by Penzy's called Mural of Flavor. It's a salt-free blend of over a dozen herbs and spices that gives vegetables, soups, and even rice some extra Mediterranean pizazz. Although still a novice vegan cook, I found that I was able to "veganize" some of my meat-based recipes and still enjoy them (for example, by substituting vegetable broth for chicken broth). There's promise here!

Don't Knock It Until You Try It!

Click thumbnail to view full-size
These veggie meatballs from Lightlife are a favorite of mine!I added Daiya vegan cheese alternative to salads, "spaghetti," baked potatoes, and other dishes.  I liked the mozzarella better than the cheddar, but both were good.I've tried several flavors of his brand of vegan ice cream, and I promise you that it can stand up to any milk-based ice cream.  It's delicious!  Even my meat and dairy eating family members said, "OMG!  Get more of that!"Better for you than butter or margarine, this plant-based alternative has a buttery taste and goes great on vegetables or in cooking.This was so good that I spread it on my vegan bagel and didn't notice a difference!  Excellent!I put this vegan sour cream on my baked potatoes along with vegan cheese, vegan butter, and some broccoli, and it was excellent!Yes, there's vegan mayonnaise!  Make your own salad dressings or use it on vegan sandwiches or in recipes.
These veggie meatballs from Lightlife are a favorite of mine!
These veggie meatballs from Lightlife are a favorite of mine! | Source
I added Daiya vegan cheese alternative to salads, "spaghetti," baked potatoes, and other dishes.  I liked the mozzarella better than the cheddar, but both were good.
I added Daiya vegan cheese alternative to salads, "spaghetti," baked potatoes, and other dishes. I liked the mozzarella better than the cheddar, but both were good. | Source
I've tried several flavors of his brand of vegan ice cream, and I promise you that it can stand up to any milk-based ice cream.  It's delicious!  Even my meat and dairy eating family members said, "OMG!  Get more of that!"
I've tried several flavors of his brand of vegan ice cream, and I promise you that it can stand up to any milk-based ice cream. It's delicious! Even my meat and dairy eating family members said, "OMG! Get more of that!" | Source
Better for you than butter or margarine, this plant-based alternative has a buttery taste and goes great on vegetables or in cooking.
Better for you than butter or margarine, this plant-based alternative has a buttery taste and goes great on vegetables or in cooking. | Source
This was so good that I spread it on my vegan bagel and didn't notice a difference!  Excellent!
This was so good that I spread it on my vegan bagel and didn't notice a difference! Excellent! | Source
I put this vegan sour cream on my baked potatoes along with vegan cheese, vegan butter, and some broccoli, and it was excellent!
I put this vegan sour cream on my baked potatoes along with vegan cheese, vegan butter, and some broccoli, and it was excellent! | Source
Yes, there's vegan mayonnaise!  Make your own salad dressings or use it on vegan sandwiches or in recipes.
Yes, there's vegan mayonnaise! Make your own salad dressings or use it on vegan sandwiches or in recipes. | Source

Commercial Vegan Products

Commercial vegan products were a whole new world for me. I've always assumed vegan products were just gross and extremely limited in variety, so I traditionally have avoided "that part" of the grocery aisle.

What I discovered, however, was that commercial vegan products can be found throughout the supermarket. I lump them in several categories:

  • faux meat - veggie burgers, meat-like soy crumbles, fake chicken, bacon, and hot dogs/sausages. Just because one brand or type of product doesn't please you, don't assume that others won't. Lightlife Veggie Meatballs were so delectable that they deserve a special shout-out. Woo-hoo!
  • dairy substitutes - In addition to increasingly popular nondairy milks (including those made from soy, almonds, cashews, coconut, hemp, and flaxseed), there are nondairy sour cream, butter alternatives, cheese substitutes, and cream cheese surrogates. I found all of these products perfectly acceptable, with the sour cream and cream cheese substitutes being tip-top. In addition, there are a variety of frozen ice cream substitutes that are out of this freaking world. The best brand that I tried was Luna & Larry's Coconut Bliss. With flavors like chocolate walnut brownie and chocolate hazelnut fudge, this vegan treat could go toe-to-toe with any decadent dairy ice cream.
  • accidentally vegan products - Do your research and always read labels because you don't need to deprive yourself of variety. You can even occasionally indulge in junk food like Pringles or Oreos because they're vegan. Shocking, huh? See the table below for a sample of products that you might find surprisingly vegan.

Foods That Are Vegan: Snacks, Desserts, Junk Food, and More

 
 
 
Oreos
Kraft Creamy Italian Dressing
Krispy Kreme Glazed Apple Pie
Kashi GOLEAN Crisp Toasted Berry Crumble
Campbell's Mushroom Gravy
Simply Potatoes Diced Potatoes with Onion
Goya Flan
Clif Bars
Special K Red Berries Cereal
Fritos
Brach’s Candy Mandarin Orange Slices
Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
Burger King french fries
Chick-Fil-A Waffle fries
Olive Garden breadsticks
Betty Crocker Bac-o’s Bacon Flavor Bits
Unfrosted Pop-Tarts
Nutter Butter cookies
Cracker Jacks
Hershey's Chocolate Syrup
Swedish Fish
Kool Aid
Ghiradelli Premium Hot Chocolate (Double Chocolate)
Lay's Stax potato chips
SuperPretzel Baked Soft Pretzels
Keebler Vienna Fingers
Spicy Sweet Chili Doritos
Pringles Original potato chips
Snyder's Jalapeño Pretzels
Duncan Hines Creamy Home-style Frosting
Nabisco Original Graham Crackers
Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Sheets
Nature Valley Crunchy Granola Bars
Keebler Fudge Jumbo Sticks
Smarties candy
Luigi's Italian Ice
Thomas’s New York Style Bagels
Chocolate Chip Teddy Grahams
Ruffles Original potato chips
As a vegan, you can enjoy snacks, desserts, and junk food, too. Just don't overdo it.

Outcomes of My Vegan for a Month Challenge

I didn't have pre-set expectations because I avoided doing research on the health effects of a vegan diet before embarking on this 31-day journey. (I didn't want to create an expectancy effect with loads of research.) All I had was the initial observation of my retired Army Colonel/doctor friend about how a vegan diet worked for him.

My personal outcomes of The Vegan for a Monday Challenge were phenomenal. I no longer suffered achy joints, acid indigestion, or a bloated feeling. Overall, I lost 14 pounds, and my clothes fit better. I became more aware of ingredients in food (look up rennet, for example) and animals' massive role being exploited within the food industry. My experience made me much more appreciative of what I eat, who I buy it from, and where I get it.

Even though I have experienced energy-draining MS for 15 years, I felt more energetic with fewer migraines. The neuropathy in both feet that has plagued me for about 10 years lifted. A week into my vegan challenge, my family noticed a significant change in my balance and coordination. I walked more upright without suddenly stooping, "folding over," or reaching out to an object or nearby person to steady myself for support. My mother and husband each noticed my new steadiness before I did.

On the last day of my challenge, I had a yearly MRI scheduled to assess the progress of my MS disease course. At one time I had 12 brain lesions, but over the years, they have decreased in size and number.

MS doesn't "get better." It's a degenerative disease. However, recent MRI results now show no clinical signs of MS, and my neurologist reluctantly reported corresponding improvement in my physical exam. For a neurologist, he said it doesn't make sense, particularly the recent improvement in my physical functioning after suffering so long with these particular symptoms. Diet and lifestyle are the only disease-modifying "medicines" I have in my MS toolbox.

As my neurologist jokingly showed me photos of the lamb chop dinners he had made for his family, he emphasized that I'm not cured but encouraged me to keep eating a plant-based diet, adding that it seems to be working for me.

My rheumatologist similarly encouraged me. Whereas eight months previously, I had tested borderline positive for lupus, that was no longer true when retested during my vegan diet challenge. She also encouraged me to continue eating a plant-based diet.

Where to Now?

With the encouragement of my family and doctors and the tremendous positive health benefits that I've seen, I'm going to try to keep this going, although I may not go all-in on a permanent basis. I did miss scrambled eggs (which I can source from the local farmers market) and plain white bread for my peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Knowing that this was a limited time experiment helped when cravings for fried chicken set in during that third week. I wonder how my month-long experiment will translate into a permanent lifestyle. I may be more successful as a part-time vegan or "most of the time" vegan. The big point is that I'll be eating significantly fewer animal-based products.

It was also time-consuming cooking the rest of my family meat-based meals while cooking myself vegan options. Accommodating them under my dietary preferences was very high maintenance. As a result, I've invited them to join me on a challenge so that we can together try meatless cooking in the hopes of perhaps converging on a plant-based diet that everyone enjoys.

Most of all, I got the satisfaction from knowing that I was saving lives by my choices. How you spend your money matters. What you eat matters. Are YOU up to the Vegan for a Month Challenge?

Tips for Making Your Vegan for a Month Challenge Successful

 
 
 
Read ingredient labels. For example, watch out for ingredients such as casein, rennet, and whey. Don't even trust that beer, wines, sodas, or breads are vegan. Learn which products are "accidentally" vegan.
Plan your meals and snacks instead of "winging it." Take vegan snacks like nuts or fruit along with you on the go.
If you slip up, don't beat yourself up. Just resolve to do better and move on. Hey, it happens.
Think of it as an adventure rather than deprivation. Focus on new flavors, new recipes, new foods, and a new you!
Focusing on a month-long challenge can help you ease into a possible lifestyle change. You just may like it!
Concentrate on whole foods such as vegetables, fruits, and nuts rather than processed foods so that you don't become a junk-food vegan.
If you're going to eat out, look at the menu in advance and have a plan.
There will be both non-vegan haters and vegan haters. Screw both sides and just concentrate on your own health and happiness.
Don't judge the choices of others. Instead, lead by example.
Drink lots of water, and find a milk substitute you enjoy (e.g., soy milk, cashew milk, coconut milk, almond milk).
Before starting your Vegan for a Month Challenge, give yourself several weeks to do some research on recipes and talk to your support system about why you're doing this.
Watch vegan documentaries such as Vegecated, Forks Over Knives, The Beautiful Truth, Food Matters, Cowspiracy, Fast Food Nation, and Live and Let Live.
Set yourself up for success. You can do this!

Notes

1 New Study Shows a Plant-Based Vegan Diet Improves Diabetic Neuropathy Pain, Lowers Body Weight | The School of Medicine & Health Sciences | The George Washington University. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://smhs.gwu.edu/news/new-study-shows-plant-based-vegan-diet-improves-diabetic-neuropathy-pain-lowers-body-weight.

2Alexander, S., Ostfeld, R. J., Allen, K., & Williams, K. A. (2017, May). A plant-based diet and hypertension. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5466938/.

3Tuso, P. J., Ismail, M. H., Ha, B. P., & Bartolotto, C. (2013). Nutritional Update for Physicians: Plant-Based Diets. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3662288/.

4 Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. (2012, July 13). Meat Consumption and Cancer Risk. Retrieved from http://www.pcrm.org/health/cancer-resources/diet-cancer/facts/meat-consumption-and-cancer-risk.

5 Physicians for Responsible Medicine. (2015, February 27). A Plant-Based Diet Boosts Physical Health and Emotional Well-Being, According to New GEICO Study. Retrieved from https://www.pcrm.org/a-plant-based-diet-boosts-physical-health-and-emotional-well-being-according-to-new-geico-study.

6National Headache Foundation. (2015, January 22). Plant-Based Diet Shows Some Promise for Migraineurs | National Headache Foundation. Retrieved from http://www.headaches.org/2015/01/22/plant-based-diet-shows-some-promise-for-migraineurs/

7Harvey, F. (2017, February 22). Eat less meat to avoid dangerous global warming, scientists say. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/mar/21/eat-less-meat-vegetarianism-dangerous-global-warming.

© 2017 FlourishAnyway

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    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 9 days ago from USA

      Suhail - We have more moles in our yard than anyone. My outdoor cats just look at them and yawn. They don't bother all the birds at my birdfeeders either. I guess why do that when you're receiving the buffet on the silver platter?

    • Suhail and my dog profile image

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 9 days ago from Mississauga, ON

      Flourish,

      I think you know it better that cats are even more carnivorous than dogs. If you start feeding them more vegetarian food than meat, they will probably revert to their wilder selves and start hunting at night, covertly ha-ha.

      Regards,

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 2 weeks ago from USA

      Leah - I appreciate your kind comment and hope that if this is something you are interested in, you'll give it a whirl. I was glad to have had the experience. I feel it made me a more alert consumer. For example, I wrote the maker of Lender's Bagels to ask if their products were vegan and learned that no, they weren't. They contain a product called L-cysteine which comes from chicken feathers. Who knew? Thank you for reading!

    • thebiologyofleah profile image

      Leah Kennedy-Jangraw 2 weeks ago from Massachusetts

      Wow. What a great article.

      Very informative for those wanting to try the challenge especially since you included your own personal experience. Also it is helpful to know you started as a normal person who enjoys eating fried chicken, etc. I like your solution of going forward as a 'mostly' vegan. I think from an ethical standpoint it the vegan lifestyle makes the most sense. I appreciate your approach since it is more attainable then going vegan 100% of the time.

      Thanks for sharing. So glad to hear you are feeling better with this new lifestyle!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 2 weeks ago from USA

      Chitrangada - Thanks for your personal experience. I never believed I would be able to do this, but consistency breaks a habit. Since the end of the challenge, I also enjoy having the flexibility to eat non-vegan options if desired.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 2 weeks ago from New Delhi, India

      Excellent informative article , which tells in so many ways about how to eat healthy!

      The benefits of including more fruits, vegetables, nuts, fibre and other vegan products in our daily diet cannot be denied.

      It’s good that you have added your personal experience in your article.

      I am an occasional non vegetarian and I fully agree with the advantages of going vegan, if not completely , at least occasionally.

      Thanks for sharing this wonderful information!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 2 weeks ago from USA

      Dora - Thanks you for your kind encouragement. It's definitely been a process and it really depends on the product that you're tasting. There are some that are really very good, others not so much. I prefer the fruits and vegetables. Best of luck on your health and journey.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 2 weeks ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks for sharing this great report on your vegan adventure. I've gone without meat for long periods at a time, but I've never developed a taste for those fake meats. I've learned a lot from your article though and your results encourage me to get back on track.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 2 weeks ago from USA

      Tamara - Thanks for your comment.

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      Tamara Yancosky Moore 2 weeks ago from Uninhabited Regions

      Excellent, in-depth article! Yes, healthy eating makes all the difference in our overall health. And, there are countless vegan recipes to prepare, or even pre-made frozen entrees as you mentioned above, that are vegan. Thank you!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 2 weeks ago from USA

      Jo - Thank you so much for the kind encouragement and for sharing your story. I’ve often heard that the gut is the second immune system and was just astounded to discover how really true this appears to be. Have a wonderful week.

    • jo miller profile image

      Jo Miller 2 weeks ago from Tennessee

      Many years ago, Flourish, when I was caring for my ill mother I became interested in nutrition and how it affects our health. Since then I've tried to eat better and have continued researching various eating plans. I could easily be a vegetarian, but might have a little trouble with being a vegan. I know several people who are vegans, though, and don't think they're weird. I do try to eat as naturally as possible and avoid as many processed foods as I can.

      So glad this is working for you. Even if you do not remain a complete vegan just learning about nutrition and making better choices will surely benefit you. I'm rooting for you.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 2 weeks ago from USA

      Martie - I am a creature of habit as well, but I told myself I could do anything for a month. (That's why I didn't take a slow approach.) Now that I've done it, I like the results and wish I didn't wait so long. Perhaps you might try giving up one "animal," as I did eating beef in 1995. That really helped, although for a long time I wanted to give up pork, too, and just didn't do it. It took this to get me "unhooked." Definitely watch "Vegecated" on Netflix. Whatever your choice is, I encourage you. Wanting and intending to is half the battle.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 2 weeks ago from USA

      Shasta - Thank you for your very sensible first-hand account. I value other people's experiences with the vegan lifestyle (or some semblance of it). I wish you the best on your journey.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 2 weeks ago from USA

      Suhail - Congratulations! That's a wonderful approach, as many vegans recommend a transition. The video Vegecated and others like it really stuck with me. I think K2 is glad you're going this one alone! My cats are too, although I'm looking at some of them with the evil eye about being overweight. No sense in overdoing something even though you're a feline obligate carnivore, eh? Best of luck with your transition.

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      Shasta Matova 2 weeks ago from USA

      I have been mostly vegan for a while now, and it is wonderful. I found that not depriving myself of anything keeps me from quitting. I don't buy or cook meat but will eat it if it is presented at a buffet or meal. That way I don't make others have to change their cooking habits for me. Dairy is my biggest weakness, but I am getting better with that.

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      Martie Coetser 2 weeks ago from South Africa

      Thanks for this very encouraging hub, Flourish. I think cooking vegetarian dishes could be an exiting experience.

      Being a vegetarian is on my wishlist for quite a while now. I only have to conquer my dislike in changes.

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      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 2 weeks ago from Mississauga, ON

      Hi FlourishAnyway,

      I am taking the challenge up. However, since slow and steady wins the race, I am now going to be a 'Reduceatarian' first for 6 months, then a vegetarian for 3 months, and finally a vegan for a month.

      I don't think I will include K2 in this challenge :-)

      Regards,

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      FlourishAnyway 2 weeks ago from USA

      Linda - That alone is reason enough for me to stay on this vegan diet. No longer being borderline positive for lupus is another biggie. I can't believe how different I feel in such a short time frame! I hope others who are hurting and believe they have no other choices at least ponder this approach.

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      Linda Crampton 2 weeks ago from British Columbia, Canada

      The improvement in your MS sounds absolutely wonderful, Flourish! What a great result from your altered diet. Best wishes for the future. I hope that many other people are helped after they read about your experience.

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      FlourishAnyway 2 weeks ago from USA

      Linda - Oh, yes. It was a here’s you meal and here mine type of arrangement. I don’t cook beef since I went off it in 1995 and never looked back, but my daughter is a sausage, eggs, and bacon loving breakfast eater and they both wanted “regular” meals. I tried to eat my meals separately, either before theirs or sitting apart. I mean seriously! They’ll be joining me next go around and even before we’ll have some transitional meals.

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      Linda Lum 2 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Flourish - One more comment--You were cooking two separate meals, one for you and one (non-vegan) for your family? You've gained sainthood in my eyes.

      If I was going to go vegan my family would have to join me or cook their own food. Sorry, I know that makes me a 'bad mom', but the alternative (what you did) sounds like asking a your alcoholic friend to tend the bar.

      Too cruel.

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      FlourishAnyway 2 weeks ago from USA

      Nell - During the challenge I was always on the clock as a vegan, but I can see relaxing some of the stringencies. I’m still eating as I did but I don’t expect to eat tofurkey for Thanksgiving. Maybe a lot more vegetables with an extra helping of guilt.

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      Nell Rose 2 weeks ago from England

      Awesome! I read all of it in fascinating! and I never realized that you had MS. And to think it has helped so much just being on this diet for a month! I am definitely going to give it a go, maybe as you said at the end, not necessarily all the time, but for most of the weeks main meals, definitely! and then you mentioned the magic words, Burger King french fries! LOL! sounds good to me! great hub!

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      FlourishAnyway 2 weeks ago from USA

      Larry - Thanks for sharing your perspective. Eating fewer animals to me is a good thing, no matter how you do it.

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      FlourishAnyway 2 weeks ago from USA

      Catherine - You're an inspiration! Thank you for sharing your experience!

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      FlourishAnyway 2 weeks ago from USA

      Kari - Thanks for sharing your experience. I hope you get a chance to try the vegan diet as an experiment for a month to see if that helps with your health issues. There are lots of resources on the internet to help you go vegan. I wish you the very best!

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      FlourishAnyway 2 weeks ago from USA

      Sally - Great question. It really depends on the mix of your diet, what you consumed before, and probably where you live as well. I previously ate out a couple times a week so cutting that saved me a bunch of money. If someone ordinarily eats a LOT of meat (especially beef), then eliminating that will save a lot of money, too. Meat is very expensive. If fruits and vegetables are not plentiful where you live or if you lean towards the expensive and exotic fruits and vegetables, then that could ramp up your costs. I went for the choices that were plentiful, in season, and from my parents' garden. The commercial vegan products (not the "accidentally vegan" ones) were considerably more expensive, but I wanted them for variety. Some of the other products are just regular products that don't happen to have animal products. Examples are Campbell's Tomato Soup or Lender's Bagels -- not typically expensive. I hope that answered your question.

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      FlourishAnyway 2 weeks ago from USA

      Linda - Thanks so much for your kind and enthusiastic. It's so interesting how veganism -- even trying it for a month for curiosity or health reasons -- elicits such strong reactions. The only time I craved my forbidden foods was when I was reading your articles. I think this will be a process, but we'll see where it goes! Right now I'm sticking to it.

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      Kari Poulsen 2 weeks ago from Ohio

      I have never eaten vegan, although I was on a "raw" diet for about 7 months. I felt so much better. My mind was sharper, my anxiety and depression lessened. I loved it, but it became too expensive. The vegan diet may work better because you can eat cooked items. I used to sprout to be able to eat beans. Maybe I should try this challenge. Thanks for letting us know how it went.

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      Catherine Giordano 2 weeks ago from Orlando Florida

      Back in the 80's I went on a macrobiotic diet which is essentially a vegan diet, with all processed sugar removed. I lost a lot of weight (even tho I was not overweight at the time) and I had many positive health benefits including more energy. There were few vegan foods in the supermarket then. I did it for about two years and then strayed because it was so inconvenient. However, my current diet is still vegan-influenced. The most important part is choosing lots of whole grains and a variety of vegetables and keeping salt and sugar low. I twas amazed at how deliciously sweet carrots taste when sugar is removed from the diet. You have inspired me to try to do a 90% vegan diet. I have strayed too much.

      I'm glad your family is willing to go vegan. When I did the macrobiotic diet I was single. I don't think I could have prepared fried chicken and then not eaten it. How about you tell your family, there are six vegan days every week and one day for old-times sake.

      P.S. The cravings eventually vanish, but not if you continue to eat the forbidden items on an occasional basis. Go "cold turkey" (forgive the expression) and the cravings will eventually vanish.

      P.P.S. I also recommend not eating the substitutes, like vegan cheese. They are a reminder of what you have given up so the cravings will continue because you feel deprived. Don't try to mimic your former diet; embrace a whole new way of looking at food.

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      Larry Rankin 2 weeks ago from Oklahoma

      To my way of thinking, from a health standpoint, the healthiest diet is of the pescetarian variety. Fish, not fried, is so amazingly healthy!

      Further, the vegan diet is unatural and even unhealthy in some ways. Too much sugar not enough protein or calcium. If I have to take loads of supplements to sustain being a vegan, what's the point?

      Environmentally, I see the allure of veganism, but if we source the food responsibly, I don't see the problem.

      I also see the virtue of vegetarianism. It seems a lot more sensible than the subgroup of veganism. A bit of dairy is a good thing.

      Just my opinion. Great read. I think it might be fun to do the challenge for a month just to see how it feels in reality.

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      Kristen Howe 2 weeks ago from Northeast Ohio

      Thanks Flourish. I might pass on ham and bologna next year and kiss it goodbye. I just need to find meat alternatives for them at the local stores.

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      Sally Gulbrandsen 2 weeks ago from Norfolk

      I found this article very interesting and would like to try eating a Vegan diet once Christmas has been and gone. I have always thought it might be more expensive! Was this your own experience?

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      Linda Lum 2 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      What a wonderful article! If anyone was on the fence about eating vegan (or at least vegetarian) this might be enough encouragement to get them to give it a try.

      Thank you for your thoughtful organization. You've laid out a wonderful step-by-step approach to adapting a non-animal eating regimen. (Thanks too for mentioning my article on tofu).

      I am so happy for you that you achieved some very positive results after just 31 days. You go girl!

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      FlourishAnyway 2 weeks ago from USA

      Heidi - Cutting down and being mindful of what our food really is (getting educated on veal, for example) are good steps. In a world where people ship American horses overseas to slaughter them for food, every action of compassion counts. Meat consumption continues to rise worldwide, and as it does so do concomitant health consequences. Thanks for your words of encouragement and support. Have a terrific weekend!

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      FlourishAnyway 2 weeks ago from USA

      Bill - Yes, I figured as much, but you're still good. Have a good weekend!

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      FlourishAnyway 2 weeks ago from USA

      Peg - Way to go to your family, especially your nephew! The change in my health is so substantial I'm blown away. You might try introducing some of the dairy replacement products into your diet like the fake sour cream, ice cream, cream cheese. They are good tasting. Have a great weekend!

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      FlourishAnyway 2 weeks ago from USA

      Kristen - I appreciate your encouragement. I've heard it said that if you're going to give one type of meet up, let it be beef, followed by pork, so you have a really good start. More power to you.

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      FlourishAnyway 2 weeks ago from USA

      Devika - Thank you for your encouragement!

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      Bill Holland 2 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Interesting read because of the statistical data you included. I don't think vegans are freaky weirdos at all, and I have no doubt that it can help a person's health. It's just not something I want to do. :)

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      Heidi Thorne 2 weeks ago from Chicago Area

      Kudos to you! I have two friends who are vegan chefs that create phenomenal vegan recipes. The one gal attributes a positive recovery from a brain tumor to her commitment to a plant based diet. What's interesting is that I run into more and more people going vegan, or at least vegetarian, even if part time.

      Me? Well, I try to eat less meat products all the time. Admittedly, though, I just can't tolerate veggie burgers. But if there were a tolerable alternative, I'd go for it. I also don't cook (trust me, it's better that way). So when I look at veggie alternatives at the store, I find that they're sometimes loaded with other nasty stuff that kind of defeats the health benefits.

      Though I'm for being a kinder and gentler species, I also realize there's a food chain. I won't try and convince a lion or shark that eating other animals is not good for them. :) And evolutionary studies show that without meat in our early human diet, our brains would not have developed to what they are today. Of course, this is all debatable academically. But I think there can be arguments for both sides of this philosophical question.

      Like you, I don't think I'll ever be 100% vegan or vegetarian, just more mindful and moving in that direction. I applaud your commitment and thank you for sharing your experience with us! Have a great weekend!

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      Peg Cole 2 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

      Many of my family members have gone vegan. My nephew Justin has even written four cookbooks with vegan recipes from around the world. I would love to include more plant based food in my diet and have already begun to limit beef but I still enjoy fish and dairy.

      I'm so pleased to know this new life style has provided improvement in your health. Way to go!

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      Kristen Howe 2 weeks ago from Northeast Ohio

      Flourish, my power to you and that vegan diet that worked wonders for you. I consider myself a semi-vegetarian by eatings fish and poultry, with the exception of ham and bologna. I'm so happy that diet is working for you.

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      Devika Primić 2 weeks ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      An incredible challenge to go vegan for a month. I like your ideas. Though not for me as yet.