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Vegan for a month! Part one

Vegan-for-a-month

Blog by Neil Bester

Vegan for a Month!

"Hello, my name is Neil, and I am a vegan." Yes, vegan – a word that strikes fear into the heart of many an omnivore. Telling your friends this before going to a restaurant may feel like admitting you’re an alcoholic, and is often met by similar responses (“you need help”, etc. etc.). And yet, here I am, having accepted a challenge to go a full 30 days without any animal products in my diet at all.

What possessed me to do this? Well, a few things. Having been a philosophy student means that I’ve read a fair bit on the subject of veganism in the past year. I’m also very interested in ethical food and sustainability. And finally, my friends are quite frankly getting irritated with me celebrating Meat-free Monday each week, and then proceeding to have a fat steak the very next day (in a manner of speaking).

After a series of friendly arguments, I was challenged to bite the bullet and go on a full vegan diet for 30 days. The reward? Nothing, apart from the satisfaction of being successful, and (hopefully) some health benefits. The punishment for failing? Having to run a half-marathon. That’s TWENTY ONE KILOMTRES. Going vegan sounded easier.

A hard first week

My challenge began almost two weeks back, on the 3rd of April and it has admittedly been a little challenging so far. It’s been challenging not for the lack of vegan meal ideas, but because for the first few days of this challenge I was feeling very sluggish and slow. By mid-week-two I was rather angry with the world, and was craving meat. (This wasn’t helped by the fact that I went to dinner with family at a restaurant that had next to nothing vegan on the menu).

But this did not deter me, and I decided that my sluggishness and constant hunger were probably just my body adjusting to the new plant-based diet. A temporary solution was to bring a little more food to work, and to be a bit more creative with my lunches. I’m happy to report that I am finally feeling human again, and I’ve managed to lose half a kilo of extra flab!

So, what do I eat?

Surprisingly, the transition to veganism has not been hard at home, especially since I don’t eat much meat there anyway. Meals are just as easy to make, but you do have to make sure you’re getting all the nutrients you need – I’d recommend taking a multivitamin at the start if you’re not sure your diet is varied enough. And you definitely need to supplement with B12, since you can’t get this vital nutrient from plant-based foods.

I’ve replaced milk in my breakfast cereal with non-GMO soy and rice milk. Cheese has been replaced by that godly food, humus, and I can happily still eat copious amounts of peanut butter! For dinner, I have had veggie burgers with salad or chips, hearty bean and pumpkin curry, roast veg with couscous and peri-peri sauce, and a variety of salads. And there are plenty of meal ideas just waiting to happen, since I have some great vegetarian cook books, including 500 Vegan Dishes, which has been a godsend.

The tough part has been finding food at restaurants, but I’ll speak about that in the next post.

 

Disclaimer

Just to clear things up some definition: I am not technically a full vegan, but a dietary vegan. Veganism itself is quite a bit more than just a diet; it is more of a lifestyle. The term ‘strict vegetarian’ is a more appropriate term, due to the fact that it focuses solely on diet.


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