Many Peaceful Dumping readers are experienced vegans whether for health or ethical reasons. But many of our readers also just love discovering ways to be healthy without having committed to a vegan lifestyle. This is for the veg-curious who have either never tried going vegan, or have tried in the past and didn’t stick it out. The point of this vegan challenge is to give it your best effort for a limited amount of time–just one week. For the next 7 days you will eat nothing derived from animals. No milk, eggs, cheese, butter, meat, honey or gelatin. Nada. Now don’t worry, let’s think of this as just a food experiment, not a lifelong commitment. If you must, you can chomp the week away while wearing leather pants or holding a leather purse. These steps are based on my own personal journey and should help you along your way. When the 7 days are up, please share your experience!
1) Grab a Buddy. This is not a sign of weakness. You can do this on your own but having the extra support may just be what you need to get you through the week. You can dine, cook or shop together to keep each other in check. The Oprah Winfrey show was my inspiration for going dairy free after several failed attempts on my own. Remember the episode when Oprah and her staff went vegan for a week? That was my start date three and a half years ago!
2) Don’t go to the Supermarket. Traditional supermarkets are filled with temptation and processed things that are not actually food. So start shopping at your local farmers market, health food store or both, and read labels. If it has more than a few ingredients, ditch it. Have you ever seen the label on a typical loaf of sandwich bread? Milk, sugar and high levels of sodium have no business being in there. Look for artisanal breads with ingredients like yeast, water and salt. Simple and delicious. Ever see a label on a tomato or a head of lettuce? That’s because they don’t need one. Aim for organic but stay within your normal food budget. Research the clean fifteen list of foods you do not necessarily have to buy organic and the dirty dozen that you should.
3) Get Creative. Experiment with real healthy food alternatives, not processed anything. Meat replacements and “dairy free” ice cream can be filled with undesirable additives. Forget about trying to replace the flavor and texture of meat and dairy. This will just make you sad. Instead, just appreciate the food your eating for what it is. Try cashew cheese opposed to processed soy or tapioca cheese. Swap out traditional mayonnaise with mashed avocado or make chickpea salad instead of tuna. Make your own salad dressings and feel free to experiment! Just tonight I used tahini in my vinaigrette because I was out of olive oil and it was fantastic. Buy spices like chili powder, basil, oregano, cinnamon, garlic powder, cumin, turmeric and dill, etc. to kick things up a notch. Cook lentils or brown rice in low sodium vegetable broth instead of water for a more unique flavor. You get my point…
4) Re-Examine. When the week is over, eat something that you gave up and see how it tastes. For me it was a tortilla chip (brand name excluded). I remember how greasy and fake it tasted even though I never questioned it before! Hopefully your taste buds will be just as renewed as mine were. To this day real food tastes better and better!
The final step,
5) Enlightenment. At the end of the 7 days you will likely feel lighter and have a whole new perspective on food. You may not be the “V” word forever but you can certainly incorporate your new-found eating practices into your everyday. Notice how you feel walking into a traditional grocery store again. I bet you will shake your head, shield your eyes from the harsh lighting and ask, “Where’s all the food?”
Any veg-curious readers out there who want to try the challenge?
Related: How to Lose Weight on a Vegan Diet
Photo: Peaceful Dumpling