Resolutions and lifestyle goals are a great way to make changes in your life that bring joy as well as benefits. Challenges that grow us as a person or unleash our potential either spiritually, professionally, health-wise, in our creativity, or in our relationships can truly transform our happiness and increase the meaning and purpose we feel. This year I vowed to go vegan by January 31st – and did it! Here’s how things stand with only a week left in February.
The Good – Learning the Ropes
In using the pantry method to go vegan over the month of January really helped me transition into new vegan foods and cooking methods while weaning me off my non-vegan dependencies. The change was easier for me to do over a month rather than going cold turkey overnight and tossing anything that wasn’t vegan. I hate wasting resources – be they money or food – so eating my way through my cupboard and fridge was psychologically reassuring, especially as I could buy new vegan foods and learn how to incorporate them into my meal and snack rotation.
Incorporation is one of the biggest challenges a new vegan faces since we’re not accustomed to how to best manage a slew of new recipes and ingredients. It’s easy to plan poorly and either see food waste and rot or find yourself starving and jittery because you haven’t got the hang of proper calorie and macronutrient consumption (ie, the right mix of protein, carbs and fats).
I’m happy to report that this month I didn’t buy any non-vegan foods and I acclimated rather well over the month to a purely vegan diet, including learning how to properly balance calories and my macronutrient intake.
However, there were some hiccups.
The Bad – Food Jitters & Hunger
Once my pantry ran dry of non-vegan food, my body began to notice their absence. The cheese cravings early on were hard for about a week, then subsided. The main problem was that I found myself eating ALL THE TIME.
I was constantly hungry despite what I thought was a well-thought out, balanced food plan. Evidently I had overlooked the calorie issue and wasn’t getting enough. Until I realized this, I ate all day long and battled with feeling peckish or hungry.
I had developed a number of delicious vegan dishes over the past few months and weeks. My whole foods diet was light on meat and fish leading into the challenge (about 80-95% vegetarian) but I didn’t realize how big a role eggs and dairy played in my life until they were gone. I got a number of calories from both, as well as protein that helped with feeling full.
Once I replaced these foods with snacks like guacamole, more substantial breakfasts heavy on the protein, and larger portions at meal-time, my constant snacking and eating eased and I felt full and happy like with my previous non-vegan whole foods diet.
The Ugly – Dairy Temptation
This month I haven’t bought any non-vegan foods and I’ve been good at politely turning down offers of farm fresh eggs or non-dairy foods. Where my lack of will-power hits is with foods my Airbnb guests leave behind.
Case in point: Recent guests left behind yogurt coated pretzel and herbed goat cheese. I totally caved and gobbled them up. While I’m not exactly proud of myself for caving, I’m also aware that I’m only human and not at all perfect. Those snacks were way too tempting.
It’s February and I’m taking the stance that I should celebrate the wins and accept the few fails as I move forward. After all, I’m good about not buying non-vegan foods or going out and eating them. I’m fine with telling people I’m vegan if they ask about my food or offer things I can’t eat. I call all that a win.
Now that I’ve found where I’m weak – food left by guests (particularly snacks) that I can eat it in secret – I can start problem-solving so that I don’t give into temptation and backslide.
2020 Resolution Month 2: A Qualified Success
Changing our food lifestyles is a cultural shift and often requires going against ingrained habits, instincts, cravings and addictions. The process is rarely flawless. If you’re going vegan like me, take heart in your wins, learn from your mistakes and move forward one delicious bite at a time. Over time we build new habits, instincts, cravings and, dare I say, better addictions that will better serve us and our goals for this beautiful life we’re forging for ourselves.
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