the one-month vegan challenge



vegan-challenge mushroom barley 'risotto'

In March 2011, our public relations specialist, Erin, started a 30-day vegan challenge. A volleyball injury had sidelined her from yoga and most other sports so she was looking for ways to challenge herself in the pursuit of health and happiness.

going vegan

I decided to go vegan because I wanted to be more aware of what I was eating, where it came from and the impact it had on my environment. I embarked on a month-long vegan challenge without knowing much about what I was doing. As a long-time pescatarian (translation: I don’t eat meat or poultry but do enjoy fish), I figured it would be easy to cut fish and dairy out of my diet for 30 days.

missing cheese

While I didn’t really miss things I thought I would (mainly cheese and yogurt), avoiding these items was much more difficult than I imagined (it was much harder to be a vegan than a pescatarian). Finding pescatarian options had never been an issue; I’d go to restaurant and become excited by the many options available to me. As a vegan, life is not so simple. Cheese, butter, milk, mayonnaise, eggs haunted me around every corner. At one point, I ate a grape that had been touching a piece of cheese and it tasted like a little piece of heaven! Looks of ‘why are you so difficult’ follow me. Pangs of hunger torture me.

vegan-cashew date 'ice cream'

benefits of going vegan

As I got further into the challenge, I started feeling so amazing that it made me wonder what was going on. I started looking into it and here’s what I found out:

  • High Energy - When following a healthy vegan diet, you will find your energy is much higher.
  • Vegan Glow - The nuts and vitamins A and E from vegetables play a big role in healthy skin, so vegans typically have good skin health.
  • Live longer - Several studies indicate that people who are vegan or vegetarian live an average of three to six years longer than those who aren't.
  • B.O. - Eliminating dairy and red meat from the diet significantly reduces body odour. Going vegan means smelling better.
  • Bad breath - Vegans often notice that they no longer have bad breath. Imagine waking up in the morning and not having morning breath….your partner may thank you.
  • Long, luscious locks - Many who follow vegan diets report that their hair becomes stronger, has more body and looks healthier.
  • ‘That time of the month’ - When switching to a vegan diet, many women tell how PMS symptoms become much less intense or disappear altogether.

being athletic as a vegansweating it out…vegan style

At the beginning of the challenge, I'd had a nagging worry that I wasn’t going to have the energy to work out has hard I normally would. I thought a lack of protein and minimal food options would zap all of my energy and that cardio would be my worst enemy. WRONG! The exact opposite was true; I had way more energy during my workouts and felt stronger and better than ever. Pre-workout I would have a piece of toast with peanut butter and a banana. Post-workout recovery included a vegan protein shake.

readily available protein

When I told people I was doing the vegan challenge, the most common question I would get was “How do you get your protein?”  The truth is there are many other sources of protein besides animal protein and let’s not forget that animal protein is quite difficult for the human digestive system to absorb. Good sources of protein include soybeans and soy foods (like tofu, edamame, and faux meats,) beans and other legumes (lentils, peas, peanuts, chickpeas,) whole grains (quinoa is a complete protein and is also rich in calcium and iron), nuts and seeds, and vegetables (especially dark green ones). Chances are if you’re eating a varied diet and getting enough calories to meet your energy needs you are getting the protein you need as well.

unexpected conclusions

Despite the challenge, it was worth it. By the end of the month, I felt amazing, looked healthier (some called it ‘the vegan glow’) and knew this was a lifestyle I wanted to commit to. Ironically, I thought my experience would be the opposite of what it was: that I would be ready to maim for a small square of cheese. So far I’ve enjoyed three-and-a-half months without a piece of cheese (milk, eggs, or any other dairy product) and life as a vegan feels pretty darn good!

take the plunge vegan challenge

take the plunge: vegan challenge tips

  • Eat often – snacking throughout the day on fruit, veggies and nuts keeps your energy up
  • Vegan protein powder and make shakes with frozen fruit are awesome for post-workout recovery. I used Vega Sport Plant-based Performance protein powder
  • Mint dark chocolate saves the day when you need a like a pick-me-up
  • Challenge yourself to try it for 7 days – you won’t regret it!

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24 Comments »


The idea of veganism is certainly a healthy one, if you commit to eating WHOLE foods.. not just junk foods all the time like corn chips and vegan hot dogs. A girlfriend of mine is vegan and I’m always fascinated by what she is eating, especially because she is very into body-building, not as a sport, but for her own personal interests.

I had her guest blog for me on how she gets protein http://www.thegetinshapeworkoutplan.com/great-ways-to-get-protein-as-a-vegan-guest-blog

It’s pretty cool.. a lot of people are really getting into this movement these days. definitely a way to be healthy if you go about it the right way.

Comment by The Get In Shape Girl — June 23, 2011 @ 3:17 pm


Erin what a great story! I’ve actually flirted with the idea of going vegan for a week or two. As a limited veggie-eater I figure it’ll be tough but nothing I can’t handle.

You’ve inspired me to give it a shot! I’ll update you with some progress when I’ve finally gotten the balls to follow-through on this inspiration.

Cheers,

Comment by Aleksandra S — June 23, 2011 @ 3:55 pm


Would love ideas for meals!

Comment by Lucy — June 23, 2011 @ 5:48 pm


Congratulations Erin! Becoming a vegan is the best choice I’ve ever made in my life, for too many reasons to mention. Thank you for sharing your story. I wholeheartedly agree with your “benefits of going vegan”. I’ve never felt better and will be a vegan for life.

Comment by Sally — June 23, 2011 @ 6:00 pm


definitely want to try this! the book “the kind diet” by alicia silverstone opened up my eyes to animal cruelty & the harmful effects of animal protein & dairy – i don’t eat meat, and the only dairy i have is greek yogurt. however, i REALLY want to try going vegan for at least a week (or a few days to test the waters). loved this post!

Comment by Holly @ HLD Fashion — June 23, 2011 @ 7:05 pm


Good for you Erin – that is a lot of hard work, but a lot of fun and super rewarding!

I know this firsthand because I feel exactly the same way! What started out as a 30 day challenge to eliminate all animal products, sugar, caffeine, alcohol and gluten turned into something I just couldn’t give up. Well… I do have a drink here and there now, but I feel so good in general that I don’t crave any of the things I used to eat. I’m now at about 75 days with no end in sight!

Comment by Murtopia — June 23, 2011 @ 7:22 pm


I have been vegan for nearly 2 years and my only regret is that I didn’t do this sooner. I feel so much better and it is so nice to be constantly asked what skin products i use because my skin is so good. The animal welfare and eco benefits are also huge. I found being ‘difficult’ hard to cope with at first but have realised that looking after myself, animals and the planet is worth the occasional bouts of having to ask restaurants for something different.

At first I was terrified that I wouldn’t be able to eat my favourite foods but have found such wonderful recipes that I am loving what I eat more now than ever! Vegan cakes YUM

Comment by Kate — June 24, 2011 @ 5:52 am


Congrats-I’ve toyed w/the idea of going vegan-ish (no cheese/half and half or Greek yogurt!). I tried a two and half day juice cleanse via Cooler Cleanse and it was fine. I’m out of commission due to a back injury and looking for a way to keep my energy up. How much did it cost and is a vegan lifestyle realistic for folks on a fixed income?

Comment by Katina — June 24, 2011 @ 8:11 am


Erin, thanks for sharing your story with us all!

I’m happy to hear you had such a good experience and that you made it through the challenge. As a vegan myself, it’s good to hear about the experience of others and the challenges/benefits.

More people need to try this challenge!

Comment by Tanner — June 24, 2011 @ 8:27 am


I’ve been a Vegan for the past 3 months, and every day is a conscious reminder of whom I’ve become!:)
Good luck!

Comment by Lulu Bloise — June 24, 2011 @ 8:42 am


Great article and I’m so glad I came across it! I’ve been pescatarian for 14 years and currently on day 3 of being vegan. I feel great and I am excited for the challenge. Thanks for the insight.

Comment by Stephanie — June 24, 2011 @ 9:08 am


Just wondering if you are able to post the recipe for those delicious pictures above! Going to attempt the 7-day challenge – I’ve been a pescatarian for some time now and am really excited to try vegan-ism out

Comment by Sophie * — June 24, 2011 @ 10:26 am


Daiya for cheese replacement! It’s the best ‘I need something to melt into a dish’ vegan cheese I’ve found. And, if you’re in the US, SOYATOO. Vegan whipped cream. Total junk food, but delish all the same.

I’ve been vegan or vegetarian for 8 years. I can totally identify with the struggles of finding something nutritious to eat everywhere you go out (especially in airports) and the joy from feeling like you’re really eating well for the environment and your health.

Way to go taking on the challenge!

Comment by Danielle — June 24, 2011 @ 10:31 am


Hi Sophie,

You can find recipes for the pictured dishes here. The ones above are on pages 4 & 5 of the post.

Happy eating.

Comment by Facebook User — June 24, 2011 @ 10:46 am


Great stuff!! Thanks for posting recipes. My friends and I did a 21-day challenge (the CrazySexyDiet; http://bit.ly/mBM2cx) and LOVED it. We’ve all learned our own lessons throughout the process – cutting out dairy being a big one; green juices; very limited meat eating; and TONS more energy!

Comment by erin @ WELL in L.A. — June 24, 2011 @ 11:56 am


Katina – to be honest, I didn’t see much of a difference on my grocery bill. The Vegan protein was the only additional expense that I noticed. That said, my boyfriend and I bought a container in March and we haven’t gone through it yet. My suggestion would be to take advantage of local farmers markets in your community whenever possible as I’ve found they sell amazing produce at really economical prices. You can find a list here: http://www.eatlocal.org/markets.html. I hope that helps. Thanks for reading!

Comment by Erin — June 24, 2011 @ 2:18 pm


Lucy – I eat lots of salad. A good trick is to prepare a big Tupperware container – without the tomatoes and dressing – at the beginning of the week so you always have something on hand when you’re starving. I love anything with quinoa and my go-to snack is veggies with hummus. I also keep almonds at my desk for a little afternoon pick me up.
If I am looking for comfort food, soy-based chicken nuggets (they taste like real chicken) and french fries are perfect.
I hope that helps!

Comment by Erin — June 24, 2011 @ 2:21 pm


Congrats on the challenge… That’s how i got started as well. Mine was 30 days, I called it “plant based Jason”

At first it was a challenge and then I fell in love with the connection to the food and the new sense of energy and well-being.

I found awesome subs and alternatives for everything even cheese: you can use nutritional yeast by Braggs to add on, loaded with B vitamins, it tastes great!

I agree with all of the benefits and suggest everyone at least try to eat “primarily plant based” whether it is for a cleanse or a new healthier lifestyle!

I documented my journey on my site with some videos and recipes.

Comment by Jason Sani — June 24, 2011 @ 6:11 pm


It’s funny how different challenges work for different people. I’ve been doing Whole30 (so NOT vegan!) for about two weeks and am sporting the “paleo glow”. My skin looks awesome, I’m down half an inch around my waist and I have visible abs for the first time ever. Best part is my digestion problems and headaches are gone!

Comment by Kate — June 24, 2011 @ 8:54 pm


Erin, congratulations on taking the 30-day challenge and winning! Veganism is right for me for so many reasons, including not just my health, but the health of the planet. If you’re able to eat local as well, so much the better. Cheers!

Comment by Carlyn — June 25, 2011 @ 12:10 pm


Hi Erin, thanks for sharing your great story! I was vegetarian for about two decades before going vegan, and I’m never going back! I feel that there is so much variety and with just a couple of exceptions, I rarely get sick or feel low energy anymore, and although I used to get very frequent sinus infections, they are, thankfully, a thing of the past! I am raising three vegan kids as well, and they were vegetarian up to a year ago and now they love the Daiya Cheese in place of the real deal…they are eating tons of hummus, salads, Southern Indian food when we go out, tortillas with beans, salsa and avocados, nuts, seeds, whole grains (including breads and crackers), quinoa….and loads of healthy smoothies too! I am a certfied Health Coach and my website is http://www.eatwell-staywell.com; feel free to check it out for some healthy recipes and my blog about how to incorporate more veggies into your diet, even if you’re not completely ready to commit to the vegan lifestyle! P.S. I love Lululemon!

Comment by Sharon — June 25, 2011 @ 6:11 pm


Hi,

nice try to go vegan! Maybe you want to have a look at my site: http://veganpassionenglish.blogspot.com/

I am from germany and translating my german homepage. Some recipes are already in english. If you’re interested in some special treats you can mail me and I’ll translate the recipe for you.

Comment by Küchenfee — June 26, 2011 @ 5:49 am


Do you have any recommendations of a good vegan protein powder?

Comment by jessie — April 11, 2012 @ 6:59 pm


Would any of these vegan protein powders work on this page? I came across it while doing research.
http://bestproteinpowderreviews.com/best-vegan-protein-powder

Does rice protein powder really taste as bad as everyone warns too?

Comment by jessie — April 11, 2012 @ 7:00 pm


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