My Vegan Experiment: 30 Days Without Meat, Dairy, Eggs & Honey
A vegan diet – for some, the healthiest form of nutrition there is; for others, simply unimaginable going without meat, dairy, eggs and honey for more than a day or two.
In my circle of friends, there aren’t many people who follow a vegan diet. But through watching my vegan friends I learned how much work this diet is and what restrictions you have to put up with. Or at least that is how I used to look at it as an omnivore. I had been asking myself for a long time how vegans manage to stay so strict and disciplined and how they can live without all those tasty things to eat.
One month, no animal products
I decided quite spontaneously to take my chances and go vegan for one month. I didn’t choose to do it because of my health or ethical reasons. I simply wanted to know what an animal-free diet tastes like and how much work this diet really is.
Cutting out meat was the easiest part for me. I had never been a big meat eater. Before my experiment, my meal plan included meat once or twice a week at most. The real challenge was to stop eating dairy products. I simply love milk, cheese, yogurt and chocolate! Also, eggs had always been a staple in my diet.
To keep myself from being tempted by these foods, I stocked up on soy products before starting my experiment. Looking back, it is clear to me now that this was unnecessary. Vegetables, fruit, whole grain products and legumes offer plenty of opportunities for a healthy and varied vegan diet. I found out during my time as a vegan that I could replace milk with coconut, almond or oat milk.
Cutting out honey also turned out to be a big problem. As a huge fan of muesli and granola bars, I was sad to learn that most of these products contain honey.
The first thing I noticed when becoming a vegan was that it not only required plenty of discipline but lots and lots of time, too. Grocery shopping no longer took ten minutes, but three times as long, because for every product I had to check the ingredients list in close detail.
Other people’s opinions and the stumbling blocks
People often asked me “Have you lost your mind?” or “Is there anything you can still eat?” I got to experience first-hand that vegans are often considered to be party poopers who try to make others feel bad about eating animal products. I thought to myself, “In one ear and out the other.” Nevertheless, I was a bit shocked at how harsh people judge other people’s eating habits.
A vegan’s day is full of potential stumbling blocks. Whether it is our Runtastic company breakfast, family get-togethers, vegetables sautéed in butter, a coffee to go or cake with co-workers, temptations are waiting all around.
You can eat a healthy and varied diet as a vegan, but it takes a lot of time and effort (especially at the beginning). However, homemade food and conscious nutrition were definitely worth it to me. Plus, I was able to adjust really quickly and soon I no longer felt like I was depriving myself of anything. Some of my favorite vegan recipes include this colorful quinoa salad, chocolatey protein shake and this delicious smoothie bowl.
As for my physical condition, I noticed I felt a lot better in the mornings. My complexion improved and I also lost a little weight (which was probably due to the lack of sweets ;)). During this time, I also exercised more than before and I didn’t experience any negative consequences. In fact, I’m a faster runner now and I even set a new personal best in the half marathon #veggiesforthewin
What started out as a spontaneous experiment has ended up changing my eating habits for good. I will go back to eating “everything” again because as a freedom-loving person I don’t want to completely limit myself. But I will consume animal products more consciously and certainly less often. Moving forward I would like to eat vegan three to four times a week. The experiment was definitely worth it to me. I think a lot more about my nutrition and try to eat more health consciously. All in all, I feel much better, more alert and fitter. And I eat a lot fewer sweets – which is a huge success for a sweet tooth like me 😉
My top 5 learnings from going vegan for one month:
- A vegan diet doesn’t have to be boring.
- It “forces” you to cook for yourself (which I found to be a great habit).
- Veganism makes you think more about nutrition.
- Vegan cooking offers numerous recipes that are quick and easy to make.
- The transition is easier than you think, but it takes a lot of time at the beginning.
My tips for all those who would like to try it out themselves:
- Every person and body is different: decide for yourself what tastes good and what’s good for you. In the end, nutrition is a personal decision.
- Preparation and planning are key: before starting with your experiment, think about what you would like to cook (and what groceries you need to buy) and look for recipes. Prepare tomorrow’s lunch the evening before and take it with you to work the next day.
- Vegan food is not automatically “healthy” food: french fries, chocolate and pizza can also be found on vegan meal plans. But at the same time, you should also avoid labelling certain foods as taboo 😉
- It’s not just about tofu, soy and substitute products: there are enough plant alternatives like fresh vegetables, fruit, legumes and nuts. I would be careful with meat and cheese substitutes because these (at least in my opinion) are not particularly healthy and nutritious.
- Don’t be afraid to ask about ingredients: whether you are at a restaurant or a bakery, if you aren’t sure what is in a particular product, then ask. More and more restaurants are offering vegan dishes.
- Vitamin supplementation: If you plan on living a vegan lifestyle permanently, you should think about taking vitamin B12 supplements. Why? Because you can’t meet your daily requirement with plant foods. It’s best to have a doctor check your vitamin B12 levels on a regular basis.
- Keep a record of your challenge: How are you doing? What do you like? What has changed? You forget these details pretty quickly and they are actually what makes the experiment so exciting.
- And last but not least: be proud of yourself and have fun! It’s a big deal tackling such a challenge. Listen to your body and don’t let other people’s opinions influence you.
Katrin is part of the Communications Team at Runtastic. She loves traveling, mountains and good food and she is passionate about trying new things.