I’m a person who doesn’t eat a lot of meat to begin with. I don’t make meat at home so my only consumption of meat is either through the fast food drive-through or at a restaurant.
I’m also a person who is trying to be more environmentally conscious and I recognize that much of a person’s environmental impact comes from their food habits. If I’m doing all I can to reduce impact everywhere else, why was I not trying to do everything I can?
I found that Pinterest was a great resource for me because it gave me ideas. I can’t truthfully say that I followed any of them to a T, but searching “Vegan” on my Pinterest page opened my eyes to new ways to use ingredients, clear my pantry, and try new things.
Here’s my Veganuary board on Pinterest –
I also found Instagram to be helpful with this. In addition to recipes, these people helped keep me accountable. Below is a (nonexhaustive) list of some of my favorite follows –
My Veganuary was not without some cheating. When I had an event planned with a pre-set menu, I made the conscious decision to eat the items in front of me (within “reason”). One time I ordered vegan items for lunch but took a bite of my friend’s meal. While, yes, I cheated, I’m not going to beat myself up about it. I made more conscious decisions and encouraged others to do the same.
I also didn’t grill anyone at a restaurant. Pita bread is inherently vegan, but the internet will tell you that there is 1% of people or places that make it with milk. Or that some brands of food won’t mark “vegan” on their label because they’re made in a factory with things that aren’t vegan. I gave myself (and them) the benefit of the doubt.
It seems obvious to say “not all vegan foods are healthy,” but it is worth repeating. My vice has always been salty – pretzels, chips, pita chips and hummus, you name it. All of these things are inherently vegan. I found myself one day upset about what I couldn’t eat and starting to eat a lot of the things that I could. Instead of filling the “void” with healthy choices or a walk around the block, I sat and ate a giant bag of chips. Just because it’s vegan doesn’t inherently mean it is healthy.
What are some of the good things that happened during Veganuary?
- I read labels more. Not in the counting calories sense, but in the “what actually are the ingredients in this item” sense. This month made me realize how ignorant I am of the ingredients I’m putting in my body.
- I was more conscious about what I wanted to eat versus what was sitting in front of me.
- I put together a list of items that I truly missed (mostly consisting of good pizza, good breakfast tacos, and good quesadillas).
- I supplemented more with greens than I normally do.
- I packed my own snacks and found some delicious things I’ll buy over and over again.
- I was able to support restaurants that support vegan lifestyles.
- My friends and coworkers asked me about it. I got to have conversations about the environment and food that I normally don’t, and everyone was extra accommodating.
I’ve had many people ask if I was going to be vegan forever, and the answer is no. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of lessons, meals, and mentalities that I will keep moving forward, but I’m not going to hold myself down to being 100% vegan. My plan is to integrate 4-6 days began a week being vegan and allowing myself to eat what I truly want and enjoy on the others. I will cook as vegan as possible where all of the choices are my own. I will do even more research and meal prep planning.
Veganuary was a good challenge for me because it made me be more conscious of my decisions. I look forward to learning even more and further decreasing my impact!
Did you do Veganuary? How did it go for you? Do you have any tips to share regarding veganism? Let us know in the comments below!