30-Day Vegan Challenge

Vegan — I even disliked the word before I had given thought to what it really meant, and what ‘they’ tried to achieve, but after being convinced by the environmental argument well presented in Cowspiracy I decided to give the 30-day vegan challenge a go.

From the first day, I was met with difficulties. I had already bought plenty of animal products and stored them in my fridge and cupboards; this ranged from minced meat to honey. But nonetheless, I had decided to do the challenge, and knowing that some of the products would expire by the end of it, I decided to simply give them away to my friends. This then led to the next difficulty, what do I buy at the grocery store? It felt like I was limiting my diet and stripping myself from life’s pleasures, I felt that while my efforts did contribute for the benefit of the environment and animals, they remained minute. But gradually, I took an approach of looking at the challenge by considering compound interests, knowing that a single day of eating vegan might have a small impact, but reminding myself that every day that I kept going, my contributions grew and that by the end of the month, I will have had made a difference, that while still being small, was one 30 times larger than the I had achieved by the end of the first day.

Prior to this challenge, I had never gone into a restaurant and considered ordering something from the menu that would not contain a meat of some sort. I believe my tunnel vision came from the ‘protein myth’ that these meats are our sacred sources of protein, and that without them, I’d struggle to maintain my health, let alone any athletic aspirations. Thankfully, it wasn’t long until I came across academics and life examples that proved to me that this myth, was exactly that, a widely held and false belief.

One of the most rewarding discoveries from this 30-day challenge has been the learning process that has come with it. I have a much greater understanding of the nutritional components specific foods bring, and surprisingly enough I’ve also enjoyed my own cooking even more; by having expanded more in regards to both taste and range. On top of further enjoying my food, the 30-day challenge also helped me with my everyday life. I found it drastically easier to get up in the morning, go to the gym, and I’ve even noticed my hangovers haven’t hit nearly as bad as they have in the past. Whether these benefits have been a coincidence, a placebo effect or directly related to my change in diet, I can’t assure you, but I can say I’ve enjoyed them enough to continue my stretch as a vegan.

I had previously seen vegans as a sort of cult of hippies, whom I disliked for their extreme demonstrations and protests on what I had been led to believe my entire life was a right way of living. Since then, I have exposed myself to academic literature with focused on the health benefits of the diet, as well as documentaries pushing the agenda from an ethical and moral perspective, and the collective experience has been enough for me to adopt this lifestyle indefinitely. I could not be happier to have taken onboard this plant based diet. I honestly feel its benefits every day, and predict that I’ll be even more content with my decision in future years to come.

If you’re considering taking the 30-day challenge, I recommend you reflect on Robin Sharma’s (not a vegan) thoughts on change, “All change is hard at first, messy in the middle and gorgeous at the end”.

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