Vegan challenge finale, and what I’ve learned.

The one month vegan challenge has come to an end. Here are my overall thoughts about eating vegan.

Vegan Challenge
Update 1
Update 2
Update 3

How I did:

Vegetarian: 9/10
I had a total of 3 cheat meals this month (all involving dine-out, where the meal options are pre-determined), and the rest of the time I stuck to being strictly vegetarian. Not eating meat was not hard and I did not find myself craving meat.

Vegan: 7/10
There were a few slip-ups involving foods that contained dairy or egg products. (For example, on the first day when I ordered vegetarian ramen only to be served egg noodles) Sticking to a vegan diet is a LOT harder than vegetarian simply because of hidden food ingredients. A couple of times I also willfully chose to eat foods I knew contained a trace amount of dairy.


Weight loss:

Starting off the month, I was at a post-holidays high of 113.8lbs. As of the end of the month, my weight was pretty consistent around 112lbs. For me, eating vegan did not contribute to weight loss.


Health and Energy:

I experienced some positive and some negative health symptoms this month.

The positives were:

1. Increased energy
2. Improved digestive system
3. Reduced abdominal bloating

The negatives were:

1. Dizzy spells and vertigo
2. Brittle nails
3. Increased hair loss and breakage
4. Cold hands and feet

In the end, I don’t think the positives health benefits were worth the negative health benefits, which is why I will go back to eating meat in February.

On meat comas and digestion:

Over the weekend, I had meat for the first time as part of my cheat meals. After each meat meal, I became really drowsy. The food took a LONG time to digest in my system, and it seemed like my overall digestive tract was sluggish.

For comparison, when I had a large vegetarian meal, after 2-3 hours my stomach would go back to normal size. After a large meat meal, I felt that my stomach was full for almost 6 hours.


Eating out:

Eating out while vegetarian was not too difficult, to stick to strictly vegan was hard. Most vegetarian dishes will have egg in them or a cream based sauce. Baked goods are ‘vegetarian’ but hardly ever vegan.


Psoriasis:

A vegan diet did not seem to impact my psoriasis in any meaningful manner. It seems that my spots have faded compared to the beginning of the month, but I believe this is largely due to cutting beer out of my diet.


Summary:

I really admire vegans who can adhere to such a strict diet for years. The ethical reasons for doing so are great, whether it’s encouraging animal welfare or lessening the environmental impact of animal products.

Through participating in this challenge, I’ve learnt that there is absolutely no reason I need to have meat at every meal, or even every day. Fresh produce is available year round and there’s no lack of variety. Tofu, beans, and legumes are delicious substitutes for meat that leave me satiated without falling into a meat coma – and are also often cheaper than meat.

Moving forward, I will definitely incorporate meat back into my life – but MUCH LESS than I used to. Especially now that I’ve learnt how to cook tofu.

 

I’ll be wrapping up my other January challenge soon as well (30 Day Social Media Fast) along with introducing my new goals for February. How is it that we’re 8% through the year already??

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