Veganuary: 5 Things I Learned

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

As a result, I’ve been eating much healthier snacks such as veggies and hummus, bananas and nut butter or stuffed dates. This is good news for me as a total snack addict – maybe you’re one too?

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.

To transition to vegan takes a bit of study, experimentation and trial and error – it’s easy to make mistakes in the beginning and it does require commitment. So, will I be adopting veganism from now on? Well, I’ve enjoyed the challenge and will continue to reduce my dairy intake but I think I’ll continue with a plant-based vegetarian diet. In my opinion, eating vegan even 80% of the time brings tremendous health advantages. From experience, I believe even relatively small changes can leverage significant benefits. I would encourage anyone to try for 30 days reducing their meat and/or dairy consumption to a level they feel comfortable with, notice the positive effects that take place for themselves, then take it from there.

Have you tried going vegan before; how did it go? What tips or advice would you share with a vegan newbie? Let us know in the comments below, join in the conversation on Facebook and follow us on Twitter & Instagram. (Bookmark this site for more unique plant-based experiences from our team and check out these flora-fuelled articles to help you Keep YOUR Fit ON!)

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