Interest in going vegan, vegetarian, or even “flexitarian” – also known as “casual vegetarianism” or just cutting down on meals that involve meat – continues to skyrocket internationally, driven by concerns and health warnings about the effects of animal products such as red meat as well as environmental effects of climate change. Last month I jumped on the ‘Veganuary’ bandwagon and gave up all forms of animal products for 30 days. Despite being a vegetarian for over a decade, there were still several learning curves. Below I share some of my reflections from the past month. Follow me on my micro journey in Veganuary: 5 Things I Learned.
1. Going vegan involves reading a lot of labels
Animal products sneak into the most unsuspecting of foods and drinks (yes, even some wine and beer isn’t strictly vegan). This has made it, at times, quite time consuming when going shopping and needing to double check the ingredients on labels.
2. Many snack products contain whey or some form of dairy
3. Eating plant-based can be expensive
I’ve found it easy to get carried away by all the fancy vegan products which are super convenient but also quite pricey on the pocket. As a result, I’d admittedly spent more than average on my food shops in January. Having said this, with slightly more planning, veganism does not have to be more expensive than your average diet. Using lentils and beans in place of more expensive, meat-alternative products is a great way to start saving money on vegan protein sources.
4. Increased fibre intake can cause temporary bloating
The additional fibre from the increased consumption of fruit, vegetables and pulses definitely caused some slightly uncomfortable bloating at times but this improved during the month as my body adapted to the additional fibre ingested. On the flip side, all the extra fibre kept me feeling full and satisfied for longer periods of time, so I didn’t at any point feel ‘deprived’.
5. Increased energy and improved skin, hair and nails
Although it’s hard to objectively measure these benefits in just 30 days, getting out of bed in the morning was definitely easier and I don’t think I had one nail chip during the whole month! Although I didn’t measure my before and after weight, I certainly felt leaner after the 30 days.