Vegan for a Month Challenge: My Experience and Outcomes - CalorieBee - Diet & Exercise
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Vegan for a Month Challenge: My Experience and Outcomes

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!

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!

Reader Poll

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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

As a vegan, you can enjoy snacks, desserts, and junk food, too. Just don't overdo it.

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

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

Set yourself up for success. You can do this!

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.

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.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2017 FlourishAnyway

Comments

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on April 13, 2020:

Peggy - With meat being less available in the grocery stores, it may be time for folks to adopt this challenge now. It definitely has health benefits if done well.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on April 12, 2020:

I am impressed with your results and determination to succeed in that month-long challenge. We are eating more vegetables, nuts, and fruits but still enjoy cheese, yogurt, and some meats. Thanks for writing this. It is food for thought...no pun intended.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on November 01, 2018:

Paula - For me, educating myself about the food, ingredients, the practices that go into producing it was enough to enact large and lasting changes in me. I needed to go extreme in order to "move the needle" permanently in that direction. You might find that, too. I find that there are many vegan options I prefer while others I simply tolerate. How much you adopt the lifestyle is up to you (vegan toothpaste and other consumer products, clothing, etc.).

Suzie from Carson City on October 31, 2018:

Flourish.....Wonderful article! I'm impressed with your self-motivation, determination and certainly with the results! I am stunned by the health improvement you experienced. You've really got me interested.

The first thing I did after reading was go straight to Google. I wanted to clearly understand the difference between A vegetarian and a Vegan. I discovered I only "thought" I knew the difference. After thoroughly researching, I do now fully understand the few differences between the two. One fascinating comment I read stated, aside from the basic differences between the 2, "Vegetarianism is a diet, Veganism is a lifestyle."

In all honesty, I doubt I could handle being a vegan....well, maybe for a month but I know I'd not adopt it as a permanent lifestyle. No sense deluding myself. However, I've given some thought to Vegetarianism and you've reminded me of this. I could do that easily.

In your opinion, do you think I'd experience enough positive health results from being a vegetarian....not quite as strict as being a vegan? I suppose I should just be brave like you and go ahead and TRY it!! Like you said, it can't hurt.

Again, I truly appreciate this article, Flourish. Congratulations on your success with your experiment!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on October 31, 2018:

Shauna - I encourage you to try this as a lifestyle choice either in moderation or as a month-long challenge, although the holidays may not be the time. That depends on your willpower and how much you like all the chocolate and other holiday food. I tend to be an all or nothing person, so if I'm going to do something I usually need to dive directly in the deep end, so to speak. I wanted to try this initially for one month and stick to it during that time frame, see what the effects were, and then evaluate what changes I'd make permanently, if any. I'd describe myself as more of a vegetarian who occasionally "veganizes" for a spell. My doctors have all encouraged me to keep up the vegan diet because of the positive impact on my health. I eat a lot of salads, fruits, and vegetables. I find that spices really help create a more palatable adventure.

Whatever dietary or ethical restrictions you have on top of vegan requirements (e.g., no GMO, gluten sensitivity) you can indeed find foods that fit your needs if you look. This made me much more conscious about label reading and ingredients. Now I look at labels and wonder why on earth they'd put certain things in there, especially if there are non-animal alternatives? Reading about how that milk gets to our tables transformed me from someone who drank the stuff to someone who thinks of it as nasty. I cannot unsee and unread some information. Water tastes much better. Good luck in making more healthful changes.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on October 31, 2018:

Flourish, first I commend you on a very well-written article without any prejudice or bias. Secondly, I commend you for embarking upon this challenge and succeeding. Fourteen pounds in a month?! Wow! Not to mention the other health benefits you've experienced.

One of my co-workers has recently gone vegan. In fact, last year for Christmas I bought her the cookbook you mention in this article.

I can relate to what you said about rediscovering fruit. When I get a sweet tooth, it's not fruit I want. I don't know why, but I just don't eat fruit the way I did as a kid. I need to work on that. I love veggies and don't really eat a lot of meat, but do when I get the hankering. Seafood, shellfish specifically, is my "meat" of choice. And, OMG, love, love love eggs and cheeses! I keep a blister pack of unsalted nuts and dried fruit in my desk. That's what I snack on or have for breakfast through the week.

I think I need to give this challenge some serious thought. I have about 25 pounds I need to lose and have not been at all successful.

The vegan dairy choices would be something I'd have to look into (I do, however, drink unsweetened almond milk). I like regular milk for adding to mashed potatoes and other recipes (almond milk is too sweet for savory dishes). The only thing that bothers me is most of the manufacturers of vegan products you list above, use GMO ingredients and are brands I won't buy. But I'm sure there are others out there.

This is a very interesting article. You've given me much food for thought. This article was actually written a year ago. How are you doing on the vegan journey now?

Sneha Sunny from India on May 26, 2018:

Wow, your results are really amazing. It turned out to be really helpful in managing your medical conditions.

After reading this I'm seriously considering giving it a try. I'm also in the middle of my "healthy living" journey, and I think I should give it a try. I do need to lose weight, for the sake of health.

Thanks for sharing. This was one awesome and inspirational read. :)

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on April 12, 2018:

Liz - Thanks for commenting. I'm glad this was helpful and I wish her well in her lifestyle change!

Liz Westwood from UK on April 11, 2018:

My daughter recently changed from vegetarian to vegan. This is a really helpful article.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on January 17, 2018:

Mary - It can be hard to break any habit. Best of luck in incorporating more vegetables.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on January 17, 2018:

We are trying very hard to add more veggies in our meals but years of habit come in the way of fulfillment. We know it is good for us but habits are hard to let go of.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on December 06, 2017:

Demas - Good for you that you are exercising 6 days a week like that and eating so well! Our bodies respond when we treat them well.

Demas W Jasper from Today's America and The World Beyond on December 05, 2017:

Most important is the great response your body gave you. Not at all inconsiderable is the great response your readers have given this fine article. I have the exercise back under control (3.5 miles six days a week) now the diet with extra fruits and veggies, salads, etc. Good inspiration, as everyone else has found from this tour de force. Thanks.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on November 25, 2017:

Poppy - It's definitely a lifestyle change which on a long-term basis I'm still adjusting to. My doctors have fully encouraged it, however, including my (vegetarian) hematologist who reiterated to me the links between animal consumption and cancer. The protein issue is completely answerable with plant-based products. There's no better time to try veganism, given all the options available. Thanks for your comment!

Poppy from Enoshima, Japan on November 24, 2017:

Fantastic article! My best friend at university was vegan and it was really interesting seeing her cook such delicious meals with no animal products in them. I sometimes cook vegan meals as well just for the challenge.

Unfortunately, vegans tend to have a negative image because people consider them to be judgemental of non-vegans, but I've never met a vegan who is like that. I can completely believe the health benefits, though it's important to get enough protein as well (which I think you can with nuts and the like.)

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on November 13, 2017:

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 Zubaid aka Clark Kent from Mississauga, ON on November 13, 2017:

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 (author) from USA on November 07, 2017:

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!

Leah Kennedy-Jangraw from Massachusetts on November 07, 2017:

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 (author) from USA on November 07, 2017:

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.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on November 07, 2017:

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 (author) from USA on November 06, 2017:

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.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on November 06, 2017:

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 (author) from USA on November 05, 2017:

Tamara - Thanks for your comment.

BBYCGN from Uninhabited Regions on November 05, 2017:

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 (author) from USA on November 05, 2017:

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 from Tennessee on November 05, 2017:

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 (author) from USA on November 05, 2017:

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 (author) from USA on November 05, 2017:

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 (author) from USA on November 05, 2017:

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.

Shasta Matova from USA on November 05, 2017:

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.

Martie Coetser from South Africa on November 05, 2017:

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.

Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent from Mississauga, ON on November 05, 2017:

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,

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on November 05, 2017:

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.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on November 04, 2017:

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.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on November 04, 2017:

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.

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on November 04, 2017:

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.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on November 04, 2017:

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.

Nell Rose from England on November 04, 2017:

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!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on November 04, 2017:

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

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on November 04, 2017:

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

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on November 04, 2017:

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!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on November 04, 2017:

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.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on November 04, 2017:

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.

Kari Poulsen from Ohio on November 04, 2017:

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.

Catherine Giordano from Orlando Florida on November 04, 2017:

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.

Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on November 04, 2017:

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.

Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on November 04, 2017:

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.

Sally Gulbrandsen from Norfolk on November 04, 2017:

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?

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on November 04, 2017:

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!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on November 04, 2017:

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!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on November 04, 2017:

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

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on November 04, 2017:

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!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on November 04, 2017:

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.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on November 04, 2017:

Devika - Thank you for your encouragement!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on November 04, 2017:

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. :)

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on November 04, 2017:

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!

Peg Cole from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on November 04, 2017:

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!

Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on November 04, 2017:

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.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on November 04, 2017:

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

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