We did a 30 day vegan challenge and we’re sharing the good, bad and fun of what happened when two parents and two young kids went vegan.
Our Journey into Veganism
As with everything in our lives, it takes us a long time. When we started talking about our semicrunchyish life, we always say one step at a time. Everyone’s journey into anything will be completely different, but we believe that cold going turkey into most things is harder. It’s also more likely to cause the person to revert back.
Veganism for us was no different. A few years ago, we started doing a meatless meal every week. Just one and really at that time, it was to help save money. As time went on, it was more for health reasons in addition to saving money. One meal turned into two. Then, over that past 15 months or so, that number continued to rise. Some weeks it was up to four nights a week that we weren’t consuming meat. I went from purchasing our chicken in bulk every 6-8 weeks to once a quarter, sometimes way longer.
Over the past 3 or 4 months, we had been talking about going vegan more and more. Finally, we agreed to just jump into it and do a 30 day vegan challenge. We set a day for October 1st and then realized we would be doing a 31 day vegan challenge since there are 31 days in October.
Did we make the kids go vegan?
This seems to be the pressing question that everyone wants to know. And the answer is 1000% yes. Then, as soon as we say yes, people look at us like we are crazy. Like I just made them run around the yard for 16 hours without food. I promise you veganism isn’t the end of the world, so our kids didn’t suffer.
But yes, we did make them also do the 30 day vegan challenge with us. Besides occasionally asking to go to Chick-fil-A they did great. The older one did ask why we were doing this a few times and said that she’s okay eating animals because she loves the taste. The little one didn’t seem to mind at all honestly.
How vegan did you go?
This seems to be the second most asked question. I learned very quickly during our 30 day vegan challenge that there’s levels to veganism. I had no idea beforehand. It’s like the mommy wars and whether or not we breastfeed or formula feed. I shouldn’t have been surprised, because everyone is going to judge you no matter what you do in life, but I was like whoa, hold on, say what?
For us, we know we didn’t go “vegan enough” for some people, but for us it was what is right. I’ll be up front and say that we didn’t give up honey. This seems to be a huge divide from what I’ve read so far in the vegan community and for us, we’re okay with still consuming it. I do realize others do not feel this way and will think we didn’t do enough.
We didn’t consume any meat, eggs, or dairy. We made sure that all the food products that we were consuming were vegans — as far as we could tell.
As far as our personal care products – we replaced things with vegan products as they ran out. For some things, like our shampoo and conditioner, we were already using a vegan brand. But other things we replaced if it ran out. We did just ditch everything in our house and replace because this was a 30 day challenge to start with and our budget didn’t allow us to replace $100s worth of items that we rarely use just for 30 days. Plus, the environmental side of me feels like wasting it is wrong even more after we already purchased it.
What were the results of a 30 day vegan challenge?
Well, we survived. That’s the first step right? We’ve also decided that we are going to move past the challenge and into living a life of veganism for good. We did continue to still eat processed vegan foods like cereals and Oreos, and our goal now is to eliminate some more of that and eat more plant based meals. I’m not sure that we will ever completely be whole foods plant based, but hey, maybe that’s the next journey that starts from here.
We learned that there’s some really gross vegan meals. But at the same time we learned that going vegan isn’t that hard and it has some really delicious alternative (like these cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting).
One of the biggest things for me we stopped feeling bloated. I used to wake up every day and feel so bloated – both in the morning and after eating meals. Within a few days all that stopped. Even eating big portions of vegan meals or snacks, I didn’t wake up feeling like that anymore. I did notice that I was hungry more often and snacked a lot. Andrew was much better at this than I was. I did still manage to loose 5lbs this month without much effort, so I’m sure if I curb the snacking habit back, this month will be even better.
Was there anything that shocked you?
There was some things that really stuck out to us during this 30 day vegan challenge. For starters, how much food contains animal products that you don’t even think about. We learned that regular white sugar more than likely has been processed with bone char, making it not vegan. Everything from our vitamins to worchestire sauce to tomato sauce to hair products needed to be checked for animals products.
How helpful the vegan community is. I think everyone thinks of vegans as people who shove their lifestyle down your throat, but what we found was that other vegans were insanely helpful. They went out of their way to find us meals they thought our kids would enjoy, to help us with any questions that arose, make book suggestions, and more. We truly love some of our vegan friends that we’ve made in this short amount of time.
Lastly, we were shocked at how seamless the transition went. We were expecting it to be really rough and quite honestly it wasn’t. The hardest thing for me was no longer having a long list of go to meals. Rather, we spent most of the month trying out new meals during our 30 day vegan challenge. Some of them worked and others, well, left a lot to be desired. The second hardest thing was probably the detox. I had some rough headaches for the first 2 weeks, but since then so much better. Luckily, I had read about that and knew to expect it.
What did you eat during your 30 day vegan challenge?
I know this is what a lot of people want to know. If you can’t have meat, eggs, and dairy, what the heck can you eat? It’s so funny that people get seriously mind boggled around what to eat if there’s no “meat” involved. Luckily, now more than ever, it’s much easier to find everything from vegan burgers and hot dogs to vegan cheese, sour cream, and milk in stores. As more people continue to switch to vegan, plant-based, or dairy-free diets, I’m convinced it will only get easier.
For breakfast, we mainly consumed smoothies and oatmeal. This is what we already ate before going vegan so it wasn’t a big deal. We make french toast using a vegan homemade bread and flax eggs.
For lunch, we either had leftovers from dinner, salad or PB&J. Luckily, my kids love both salad and PB&J so switching these three ideas around worked well for us.
For dinner, we tried lots of delicious meals. We used different beans in place of meat, as well as trying a few plant based meat options in our meals too. Some of our best meals came from meals we already loved and making a few swaps to make them vegan. For instance, one of our favorite meals beforehand was this 3 bean chicken chili. In order to make it vegan, we took out the chicken, added another cup of beans, and 2 cups of veggie broth. It was delicious!
We continued to love our black bean burgers and even found Daiya cheddar slices tastes great on them. One of our favorite meals was a chickpea stew and a super easy lo mein. I also made a veggie stew that I’ll be posting about soon. We took our homemade pizza dough and made pizzas with vegan shredded cheese and that was a big hit with everyone. Black Bean Tacos were a great hit too and there’s so many more.
What about eating out?
We were able to try a few places out while doing a 30 day vegan challenge. We went to HipCityVeg in Philly and LUHV food at the Reading Terminal Market our first few days because we were at a conference. Both places were a hit! Also since we were at a conference, we were invited to a place to eat for dinner. I was able to find a few dishes to try and loved the one I did, but it proved tricky to Andrew who is much pickier than I am. He ended up having two orders of french fries and stopping at a CVS on the way to the train for vegan ice cream.
We went to another local place near us – Heartbeet Kitchen in Westmont, NJ and were left a little disappointed. The price was way higher than we are used to paying for similar styled foods and we just weren’t that impressed. The Queso was delicious, but otherwise we could have passed on the other things. Maybe it was what we ordered, maybe it wasn’t. But it’s hard to want to go back there with the taste of what did had. The atmosphere and service was great though.
We also found a pizza place local to us that serves a vegan pizza and we also got french fries. We loved being able to go and have a a meal that everyone enjoyed without a giant price hike.
What happens now?
Well now, there’s no more challenge. This is just going to be our new normal. We will continue to find meals that we love, places that we love, and products that we love that are vegan. We will work towards switching out our household and personal care products to make them vegan. Also, we will continue to watch and monitor our kids to make sure they are getting enough and proper nutrition at this vulnerable age. We are both taking vitamins for us and for the kids, as well as a B12 spray for nutrition. With the holidays coming up we are nervous about how that will go, but we’ve done well with parties and such so far, so we are sure that it will be fine.
What about you? Have you or would you done a 30 day vegan challenge? Do you have any questions about how it went for us? Let us know!