Three weeks ago, I made a commitment to go vegan for 21 days…no meat, no dairy, and as little processed sugar and food as possible. I had no cookies, no fried chicken, no pizza, and no soda, among other things. I’m glad to say I was mostly successful. The only thing is I had a little bread that had milk in it, but that doesn’t really matter to me. Supposing I make it the next couple of hours without eating meat or dairy, I’ll consider the challenge complete.
This was more of an experiment than anything else. I watched quite a few food and health related documentaries, and seeing one of my friends and his family try their own 21 day challenge, I decided “why not?” He lost ten pounds, and at the end of my own experiment, I’m about seven pounds lighter than when I got back from Houston three weeks ago.
My diet before the challenge was basically eating whatever I wanted, usually out, and very little of that grew out of the ground. More often than not, I ate fast food. I have never been majorly overweight because I run quite a bit and rarely drink soda, but there’s always room for anyone to improve.
After 21 days, here are just a few of the things I’ve come away with:
1. I’ve found that I like fruits and vegetables a lot more than I previously thought. There’s hardly anything I don’t like now (except raw tomato. Can’t bring myself to like that).
2. If you want to go out and eat something vegan, or even vegetarian, your options are a bit limited. Many restaurants don’t serve vegetarian or vegan options outside of the few places specifically cater to that. Even salads are loaded with ranch, meat, and cheese, and are far from healthy. For the purpose of my challenge, this meant eating in most of the time. It was an opportunity to get more comfortable in my kitchen, and I had a lot of fun learning new recipes, some of which were very different from what I was used to.
3. There’s a lot of evidence suggesting Americans eat too few fruits and vegetables. Many of our problems related to health would be solved if only shifted the balance in our diet so that most of our calories came from things that grow from the ground. It’s easy for anyone to learn a few vegan recipes to mix in with everything else. Unfortunately, we take a very nonchalant view toward what we put in our bodies, as if it doesn’t matter. But in a nation where heart disease and diabetes are chronic, nothing could be further from the truth. We are obsessed with crash diets and pills when the answer might actually be spinach and broccoli.
4. Even after 21 days, it’s hard to imagine me ever becoming a full vegan, but I definitely don’t think I’ll ever go back to how I ate before. Consistently eating trashy fast food no longer fits into my worldview. It seems nonsensical. It’s been good to fast from all that stuff, so much so that I never want to go back. If I eat fast food, it will be only rarely.
After this, I’m going to continue to learn to cook vegan food and eat that the majority of the time. My experience has been that positive, and I’d recommend for anyone to try it. For those not willing to commit to three weeks, it’s easy to learn a few vegan recipes and mix them in. There are hundreds of vegan recipes on YouTube, and all of the ones I’ve tried have been quite tasty. The hardest part about going vegan is learning those recipes, but once you have something of a repertoire down, it’s easy. Getting your vegetables doesn’t have to always mean a salad. It can be curry, masala, soup, pasta, sandwiches, even pizza. Veggies are far more versatile than I ever thought, and when prepared fresh, they are just as tasty as anything else, if not more so.
I’ll still eat cheeseburgers and pizza on occasion, but nowhere near the level I was before. As I’ve said, I enjoy eating this way and it works for me. The past three weeks have been positive, fun, and eye-opening, but tomorrow, I’ll enjoy eating my first pizza in three weeks. I’ll probably go for the vegetarian.