This past Tuesday, I started a 30 day vegan challenge. For the next 30 days, I won’t be eating any meat, dairy or eggs. Yes, I’m aware that Christmas falls within the next 30 days, which I hadn’t really realized when I first decided to embark on this challenge, but it doesn’t matter. As my mom pointed out, if I can make it through Christmas eating vegan, I can make it through anything.
I’ve been a vegetarian for almost four full years now, though during that time I ate fish or seafood on occasion. I’ve always been of the belief that doing something imperfectly is better than doing nothing perfectly, so though sometimes I didn’t totally fit the strict vegetarian label, I still considered myself a vegetarian.
I initially stopped eating meat after reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan. The ethical and health implications of factory farming truly disturbed me, and I no longer felt comfortable with my eating choices, so I stopped cold turkey (ha!). Even with my convictions, for the better part of a year I still made a couple of exceptions – once for McNuggets (ugh, I know right?), another time for my mom’s homemade barbeque ribs.
I share this to illustrate that sometimes despite my beliefs, I have a hard time accepting change in my life, as I think we all do sometimes. For the last four years, I’ve known that I don’t believe in eating seafood (mainly because of bycatch effects and the toxicity of farmed fish), and yet I still occasionally did, when I willfully ignored the things I already knew.
And for four years, I’ve known there are major problems with eating dairy (for example, the hormones in dairy products, the potential link between meat and dairy proteins and serious disease such as heart disease and cancer, the treatment of dairy cows and chickens) and that eating less dairy is probably healthier for humans. And yet for four years, I willfully ignored the things I already knew, mostly because I didn’t want to seem radical or militant or like a hippie or just plain extreme, which is the way our society tends to see vegans.
But I know the things I know, and it doesn’t sit right with me to ignore those things anymore. I want to strive to live in a way that fits with my values and beliefs, so I want to strive to eat healthier for me and for the planet. And in my opinion, the best way for me to do that is to eat a vegan diet of mainly whole foods. I should note that I certainly don’t judge anyone for their personal choices.
I decided to start with a 30 day challenge because the idea of going without eggs for the rest of my life is too terrifying to contemplate (say what you will, but it is what it is!). I’m going to start with 30 days to prove to myself that I’m capable of eating this way, but I’m aiming to keep it up once the 30 days are up. The hashtag I’m using to share my meals and track my progress is #30DaysToVegan, which to me implies progress towards a goal, not a set number of days.
So far it’s been fun and remarkably easy to eat vegan. I’ve been collecting lots of inspiration for vegan recipes on Pinterest, and I’ve been happy to see that it’s easy to slightly modify some of my favourite meals to avoid dairy (and keep all the taste). My family have been really supportive: for example, my mom has made me a meal or two already, and my dad uncomplainingly ate the nutritious but slightly bland curry I made him for dinner. They might not totally understand, but they accept me and my choices, which is a wonderful feeling. That’s the most important thing to me.
I’ll be posting weekly progress updates over on Guinea Pigging Green, and I’ve been trying to post at least one photo of my (vegan!) food on our Instagram, @GreenGuineaPigs, every day. You’re more than welcome to follow along or even join in!