Good morning lovely people, I hope you’re all doing well!
As many of you probably know by now, I attempted a 30 day vegan challenge this month – starting on 2nd March and ending on the 31st.
Initially, I had planned on giving myself a ‘cheat day’ on my birthday (which was last week), to be able to eat my mum’s midnight cake which she makes for my family birthday dinner every year. Unfortunately, we didn’t have that dinner this year – for obvious reasons. However, I still did have a cheat day – I ate my fave food – EGGS! Which incidentally is what I missed most during this challenge.
Going into this, I thought it would be really difficult and I would feel a huge difference, not because I normally eat a lot of meat, but because being vegan drastically limits the types of foods you consume. In truth, it wasn’t especially difficult, it took a bit of getting used to just like anything else, but eventually, into week 2, I started feeling really good and was eager to complete this challenge.
Weight – I did lose some weight initially, which wasn’t really my goal at this stage, just a welcomed side-effect. However, given that I’ve been home cooking constantly for the past, now 2.5-3 weeks (yes, I’m losing count), I didn’t continue losing weight.
Energy Level – this first week was tough however past the first week, I started feeling great. Workouts become easier and energy levels were great consistently.
Recovery – workout recovery also improved; sore muscle pain didn’t last as long as it normally does.
Convenience – being home and cooking all of my meals myself means that the convenience of continuing this is pretty good. However, on busy days when I’m out and about for meetings and long days at work, unless I’m prepared with snacks and lunch etc. a vegan diet isn’t convenient for lack of options and eating out can be difficult also.
Blood Work – I had initially wanted to get blood work done before and after this challange. Seeing as I had my yearly blood tests done at the start of the year, I thought I’d simply compare that the new blood tests at the end of the month. However, now is obviously not the time for that so I ended up not getting any blood tests done.
WHY I DID THIS
I did this for many different reasons which I’ve listed below – part of me just wanted to know if I can do it, if this is a lifestyle that agrees with me and I wanted to see how I would feel afterwords and whether it’s something I would want to do long-term. I prepare and consume a lot of vegan meals and meat isn’t a big part of my diet. For both health reasons and sustainability. So I wanted to see if eliminating all animal foods would be something I could sustain healthily long-term.
After week two, I actually decided to stick to this way of eating long term with the addition of free range eggs. Not simply because eggs are my fave food but for reasons I’ll explain further below.
If you’ve ever watched a clip of industrial farming showcasing the way in which animals are treated, I’m sure you understand why even self-proclaimed carnivores might want to change their eating habits and would want to know where their food is coming from.
Having looked into where most of the animal foods we consume come from and having watched how the animals are tortured made me want to make huge changes to my diet. Both meat (this includes beef, chicken, pork etc) farms and dairy farms are huge culprits when it comes to the inhumane treatment of animals. The pens are tiny and filthy, cancerous tumors are simply removed once the animal is dead and all the surrounding meat sold, many animals actually die from fighting between them trying to get out…
Learning this really made me think long and hard about both the need for meat and dairy in my diet and the quality of the food we were consuming.
There is a way to consume meat that isn’t industrially farmed, however it’s very difficult to find a source unless you know one personally or develop a good relationship with your local butcher and ask where their meat comes from and so on.
Ethical dairy farms are even more difficult to find.
The easiest animal food to include in your diet, which is both very nutritious and can be (relatively) easily ethically sourced is free range eggs. Finding someone locally who has a farm with a few hens running around producing eggs, which is of course what they would do naturally, is not that difficult. I found a very good source locally (who is currently not taking any new orders – I’ll keep you posted), where you can actually go and see how well the animals are treated, kept and fed. This results in a far more nutritious and better tasting egg.
Water use: the amount of water that is needed to produce meat is staggering. Much more water is needed for the rearing of animals and production of meat products than for vegetables. It is estimated that 1kg of meat requires between 5,000 and 20,000 litres of water whereas to produce 1kg of wheat requires between 500 and 4,000 litres of water. The global demand for meat is increasing – as many Asian countries who used to eat meat very rarely, due to both traditional eating habits and expense, now have more disposable income and far more westernised options available to them. Moreover, meat consumption in the Western world is still very high and increasing steadily. The demand for water to produce animal foods alone is not sustainable long term. The global demand cannot be met long-term. Reducing meat intake will not only help our personal health but that of the planet too.
Wildlife: More and more forests are cut down year after year to rear animals for food consumption or to grow crops to feed said animals. This results in loss of wildlife due to loss of habitat or due to inability to forage for food.
Effects on antibiotic resistance: Approximately 90% of the total use of anti-microbials in America is used in agricultural production. Livestock production has been associated with antibiotic resistance and has also been associated with the emergence of microbes which are resistant to multiple anti-microbials.
Other factors to consider that tax the environment greatly include air pollution, green house gas emissions, effects on the aquatic ecosystem, energy consumption, effects of air pollution in human respiratory health, land use for rearing animals, land use to grow crops to feed animals and many more.
I’m not here to suggest we all go vegan – I’m simply highlighting the repercussions of our choices and the fact that our food trends are not sustainable.
As I previously mentioned, I had decided on going vegan but with the addition of free range eggs into my diet. However, seeing as the current situation has minimized our options in terms of food shopping, vegan alternatives are very difficult to find. Many of the items I try to purchase are out of stock or unavailable from small grocers which is where I’m purchasing most of my food from at the moment seeing as many online supermarkets are inundated with requests and don’t allow for more customers to make orders. Also, I feel that this is not the right time to be super strict when it comes to diet; I’m sure we’re all stressed and I for one am having a difficult time dealing with everything going on so, for my mental health, I am not going to impose any more restrictions at this point. Furthermore, I do have some fish and other animal foods in the freezer and now is not the time to waste food so I will of course use them.
I do however intend on eating vegan as much as possible moving forward. I’m going to be posting many recipes using panrty staples that are easy and healthy.
For anyone reading this who is interested in reducing animal food intake, I’m going to leave you with one of my favorite quotes:
‘START WHERE YOU ARE,USE WHAT YOU HAVE, DO WHAT YOU CAN!’
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Until my next post, be well xXx