My Month as a Vegan
About eight months ago, for ethical reasons my daughter decided to become a vegetarian. After being vegetarian for about four months she decided to become vegan and just eat a plant based diet. When she first told me she was going to become vegan I had concerns, these were for her general health, Was she going to get the right vitamins and minerals on a daily basis? Would she lose loads of weight that she didn’t need to lose? How was this going to affect our home life? Were family meal times going to become difficult? My mind was made to rest when she told me she had an app on her phone to input her diet daily and this would monitor her levels of vitamins and minerals, she didn’t appear to be losing weight quickly and she was going to let me know what food she needed and wanted to take charge of preparing her own meals. Once she started I noticed was that she started to really take an interest in what she ate and how she prepared it, she began eating more regularly and I realised that her diet was a lot healthier than it ever had been before.
From the very start of her vegan diet she was very keen to talk to me about what she could and couldn’t eat, why she could or couldn’t eat it and explain the benefits she was feeling. She also really wanted me to give it a try. Although I have always had an interest in diets and have tried several detox’s I wasn’t sure that I wanted to try this diet. To try and get me interested she decided to show me a documentary on animal cruelty in dairy farms in America. This was of course hard to watch and not something I agreed with, but I had faith that not all dairy farms were run like this and at that point it didn’t make me want to stop eating meat and dairy and try the vegan diet. I told her that I was more interested in any health benefits of eating a plant based diet. She then showed me a documentary called ‘forks over knives’, I found this documentary really interesting. It again was based in America and showed how following a plant based diet could help with a variety of health issues such as diabetes, high cholesterol and cancer, it showed you how you could not only help to alleviate this problems, but actually start to reverse the deeper issues within the body. It also looked at how it could help with general fitness and good health and the positive impact it had on the environment. After careful consideration I decided that a plant based diet was worth a try. I decided to give it one month and see how I felt during this time.
Before I started I thought about how I might feel during the month and my expectations were that I might lose a bit of weight and trim up, I might feel clearer headed, less tired and have a bit more energy. I also thought that I would have a greater understanding of what life was like for my daughter on this plant based diet, spend time with her cooking and planning meals and feel like I was supporting her and getting a better connection with her.
After a big vegan shop in the supermarket I was ready to get started. I found the diet this week easier to follow than I expected. My breakfast and lunches were practically the same as they were before I just needed to change my normal yogurt for a soya based one which was very nice and be careful what I put in my salads. Dinner needed a bit more planning, but I borrowed some recipe books and I wanted to try new meals with my daughter to help her with new ideas.
Physically I didn’t feel much change until towards the end of the week, it was then I started to realise that my digestive system was starting to work much more efficiently than it had before and I found myself needing the toilet much more regularly! My stomach also felt quite bloated and I was quite windy! I put this down to my digestive system getting used to my new diet and hoped things would settle down over the next few weeks. I also felt quite tired. Mentally I felt calm and clear headed.
This week went well. Meals were easier to plan as I was more familiar about what I could and couldn’t eat and trips to the supermarket became slightly quicker as I no longer had to spend hours looking at food labels. They do seem to stick a bit of dairy in everything! I seemed to eat out quite a bit this week and found that most restaurants and cafés offer a very good selection of vegetarian meals, but finding good vegan meals was a little harder. There was generally one or two choices for a vegan although to be fair I was impressed to see that some places do have separate vegan/vegetarian menus.
Physically this week was a little easier on my digestive system, it seemed to have settled down, my stomach was less bloated and l was a lot less windy. I think my energy levels were starting to rise as I started to think about doing a bit of exercise for myself and I felt less tired. Mentally I still felt calm, clear headed and good about sticking to the diet. At this stage I wasn’t really craving any daity, fish or meat.
This week went well and included my daughters birthday. The one thing I hadn’t thought about was her birthday cake. I assumed I was picking it up of the shelf at a supermarket as normal, but soon realised that wasn’t going to be possible. I thought about making one myself which would become my last resort as I’m not much of a cake baker and I didn’t have a lot of time the days before to bake a cake. I asked around various health shops and was directed to a local vegan cafe called ‘Cafe Kino’ after a quick phone call I had ordered a vegan chocolate cake. I picked it up the day before her birthday and surprised her on the day. The cake was delicious and you wouldn’t have guessed it was completely dairy free! She loved it.
Physically I felt the best I have so far. My stomach felt good as though it had got used to the diet. My skin felt glowing and one client even told me it looked ‘amazing’! I felt clear headed and my energy levels were up. I even started to do a little exercise this week, on the Pilates equipment and two short runs a week with my daughter. Mentally I still felt calm and clear headed but I had started to crave cheese! I was starting to find the limited food choice difficult. Going to friends parties and houses for a coffee didn’t help, it was hard not being able to eat the same as everyone else and of course I didn’t expect them to cater for me individually. I started to understand more why my daughter carries a tupperware box of snacks everywhere with her!
My final week. At the beginning of this week I realised that over the last four weeks I had naturally cut down on alcohol. I’m not a big drinker or worried about my drinking, but over the summer holidays with the children off school and the gorgeous long summer evenings we were having I had gotten into to the habit of having an alcoholic drink with dinner more regularly. What I realised was that over the last four weeks I had naturally stopped that and I didn’t really feel the need or want to have a drink at all. I wondered whether this would have happened anyway over this period or if this was to do with the vegan diet and the fact I was feeling so good.
Physically this week was a little harder for me to judge as I wasn’t feeling too well for the first part of the week (headache, sore throat and feeling a bit sick) this meant I wasn’t feeling as good as before and didn’t exercise as much. Mentally I continued to feel calm and clear headed, but I really started to get a bit bored of the diet and was finding it harder to stick to. I did contemplate coming off it early but managed to stick to it to the end but if I’m honest it got harder to stay on it as the week went on. I still continued to crave cheese but also fish and meat. I think it was strong flavours I was craving mostly .
Overall I enjoyed my month as a vegan. It was nice to try some different food at home and in restaurants and cafes. By the end I did find it quite restrictive and I started to crave a few things, but overall it was a positive experience. Looking back at my expectations at the beginning of the month and comparing this to how I actually felt I would say that I didn’t lose any weight, but I did feel a little trimmer, I felt clearer headed, less tired and I did have more energy. It was easier to stick to than I expected and there are a lot more foods that you can eat than you would realise. I think I do have a greater understanding of the diet. I didn’t spend as much time with my daughter cooking and planning meals as I thought I would but as my daughter is a teenager with a very busy social life, she wasn’t around a lot and we often ate at different times of the day. I did feel more connected to her though especially when we started running together. I do think if I had made the effort to cook some vegan recipes then I wouldn’t have got as bored of my food choices towards the end of the month.
Even though I felt good both physically and mentally good on the vegan diet I don’t think that it was enough of a difference to keep me on the diet. I will continue to eat a plant based diet for my breakfast and lunches during the week but in the evenings and weekends have a little dairy, fish and meat.
If you are thinking of trying the vegan diet for a month then please let me know how you get on. It would be great to hear how it went for you.