30 Days Are Up!
Today is officially the last day of our 30 day Vegan Challenge. I was expecting this to be a lot more difficult than it has been, I also thought the 30 days would have been enough to resolve my ‘dilemma’ and I would be back to ‘normal’ on day 31.
If I look back on ‘day 0‘ of the challenge there were a few measurables I had set out:-
- Save Money – I was convinced that we would find it cheaper to eat vegan and that has definitely been true. We have more than doubled our vegetable consumption too! We have changed from buying the majority of our food from Tesco to our local veg shop instead. The food at our local shop has been cheaper, better quality, tastier and more diverse (we’ve been buying food we never would have bought from Tesco) – so this has definitely been a win for us and means we are now supporting a local business too.
- Lose Weight – We have both lost around 3kg each in the last month. Whilst this isn’t amazing, we have done it whilst still eating out and eating a lot of junk. We have not been treating this exercise as a diet that’s for sure! We have eaten pizzas, crisps, chips, curry’s on our challenge (as well as a lot of good-stuff obviously) and still managed to drop weight – I wonder how much more we would have lost if we were actually avoiding junk. Additionally my resting heart rate has dropped around 10bpm!
- Feel better – General energy levels have been much higher that is without a doubt. On the several occasions I have been drinking on this challenge, I have woken up to feeling absolutely terrible – worse than a normal hangover – I’m convinced this is because I have started to get used to feeling good a lot of the time. It’s not that my hangovers are worse, it’s just that my reference point for ‘normal’ has shifted!
- Nutritionally Aware – I don’t claim to know the ins and outs of nutrition, but have spent a lot of the last 30 days researching the vegan diet and trying to keep an open mind to both sides of the argument. Without a doubt I’m much more aware than I was previously. Even little things like understanding foods that negatively effect the body’s pH and the knock on effects this causes, have been very interesting to understand and have shaped my attitude towards food going forward. I’m finding it hard to find an argument against the vegan diet from a nutritional perspective.
Some other benefits that have come out of our experience that weren’t expected:-
- Education – I don’t even know how many speeches, shows and documentaries I have watched about food in the last 30 days, but it’s been fascinating, these have included nutrition, health, where our food comes from, economics, politics and more! I know that whatever route I take, it will now be an educated one. What I have found is that this is a position most people are not able to take as they are not educated about where their food comes from or many other aspects of food. I had my mind completely blown last night when we popped into Tesco – a manager was taking a group of girls (Brownies) around the store, they all had tabbards on saying “We’re here to learn about where our food comes from” – brilliant I thought! That was until I heard what they were being told…the woman pointed at all the bread and said “all this bread comes from a lorry”…I was gobsmacked – is this really how to educate children about where our food comes from? Another point I have found about the education of food is that people don’t actually WANT to know where their food comes from. I have told lots of people about the shows I have watched and been met with the comment “oh no I can’t watch that, I don’t want to know”…no wonder the food industry is in the state it is!
- Vegan Events – It feels like we have discovered a whole new world of food! We have been to one vegan fair, one restaurant that had a vegan/veggie theme for the week, visited a market with vegan stalls and we are signed up for two more vegan food events this week – this is all in the space of 4 weeks (only 3 weeks if you discount our cold and flu indoors week!). We have also discovered a lot of our favourite places to eat also cater for vegans which is great.. Changing our holidays to have vegan meals has not been a problem either – I really don’t feel like I’ve lost out from being vegan for 30 days I genuinely feel like we have gained.
- Home-Cooked Food – We have done a lot more home cooking in the challenge than we ever used to do. It hasn’t taken much more time than we used to spend but the quality of food has not been comparable. Home cooked food is cheaper, it’s better for you, you know where all the ingredients come from and it is healthier – it’s the way forward. Whilst you can ‘do vegan’ with convenience food, it’s really not necessary, and since we were new to all this though we have found it better to cook from scratch than search for convenience that fits our new diet.
I should take a moment to acknowledge another thing I have learnt along the way – I can’t cook a vegan lemon drizzle cake! After 3 attempts I came last place in the work competition I mentioned yesterday! To be fair it tasted awful! disgusting! It wasn’t even because the recipe was vegan, it was because I put too much lemon zest in it! So this is my official public apology to the disservice I have just done to all vegans – I have tasted vegan cakes, I know they are just as tasty as non-vegan cakes!
So What’s The Result?
If you asked me a week ago what I thought the result would be, I would have told you that I intend to be vegan when at home and whenever I prepare food, but would compromise to vegetarian/fish eater when eating out. After two shows I have watched on the weekend (Gary Yourofsky’s speech and Juliet Gellatley’s lecture) I don’t think I’m willing to compromise when eating out either – and just typing all of the above about our experience has shown me I don’t even need to! Whilst I’m not ready to label myself up as vegan, I’m also not finding that I want to eat milk, eggs, cheese, meat, fish etc.. so I will be carrying on the best I can with no promises or labels just yet. 30 days really has been easy though – and I would strongly recommend anyone to try it – it’s only 30 days what have you got to lose? You might get healthier, save money, educate yourself and start eating tastier food!
From Darren’s perspective, his mind was made up after week 1. As a vegetarian of 11 years I don’t think this is as dramatic of a shift for him, but he is now signed up to the vegan way of life! I guess the difference for me is that I’ve never been in the situation before where I have had to consider what is in a meal – and I’m not a fussy eater either – I will pretty much eat anything! So my approach to food has vastly changed, whereas for Darren he just treats dairy etc.. the same as he used to treat meat.
All in all it has been a great success and an eye-opener, I’ve taken a lot from the last 30 days. I will probably continue to blog our experiences too as I don’t think this journey is over – there will be new challenges and information all the time!