I've been eating vegan for over a year now. I know vegans have a total reputation for shoving their beliefs down your throats and it's totally annoying. I try REALLY hard not to be that person, but instead encourage other people to try going vegan for at least 30 days. It's something I think everyone should do in their lifetime. it's truly an eye opening experience! (And if 30 days freaks you out, why not 15 days? 7 days? 3 days? Whatever works for you!)
Eating vegan is when you abstain from eating any animal products including meat, poultry, fish, diary, eggs, honey and anything else that may have animal parts or by-products in it. So what DO you eat instead? A beautiful variety of fresh veggies and fruits, whole grains (rice, bread, quinoa, pasta), potatoes, beans, nuts and seeds, smoothies and specialty vegan food like faux meats and dairy products.
1. Feel the health benefits
Eating vegan for 30 days, you should be able to see some of the amazing health benefits that a vegan diet offers. After going a week without dairy, my acne and skin issues almost completely cleared it. After that, I was totally sold. I also saw my headaches and horrible PMS symptoms disappear. My anxiety lightened up and I felt like I had a ton more energy.
2. Try new ingredients
Turning vegan had me trying things like Mejool dates, nutritional yeast, mushrooms, chia seeds, and quinoa. These are things I would never have tried if I had never started eating vegan. Honestly, these foods are now some of my favorite ingredients to use in cooking. I wonder what new foods you would experience if you went vegan too!
3. Try new restaurants
Eating out as a vegan is an interesting experience. So, I am always on the look-out for a great vegan place to eat. This has led me to some of the most wonderful places to eat like Harmony Bakery in Baltimore, Petunia's in Portland, Breakaway Bakery in Los Angeles and The Mill on MacArthur in Richmond.
4. Get a peak into the vegan community
By looking up vegan videos on YouTube or #vegan on Instagram, you'll get a peak into the vegan community. Better yet, head one of those new vegan restaurants and you'll probably have a new friend in a few minutes after ordering. There is something so welcoming and wonderful about the vegan community. It's so awesome to meet someone and know that they share the same moral and healthy values as you.
5. Gain understanding for your vegan/dietary restricted friends
I've dealt with food allergies for 5 years. So, I'm not a stranger to it. But I still remember the day that I found out I had to go gluten-free. I cried. Because food is delicious and wonderful, and I felt like that was being taken away from me. I went dairy-free, egg-free and meat-free by choice but going vegan truly opens your eyes to what it is like for your friends with food allergies. The questions for the waiters, the delight over finding a place where you can actually eat, the joy in having a meal out, the planning ahead it takes to make a meal. You'll be a better friend for it.
6. Gain a deeper appreciation for the planet
There's something about eating things that only come from the ground that makes you feel a little more connected to our planet. It'll make you appreciate going to farmer's markets and meeting the people who actually produce your food. It'll make you want to learn about how you can actually help the earth from which your food comes because you feel just a little more tight knit with this beautiful planet. And, oh, I cannot describe to you what a WONDERFUL feeling that is!
7. Know you're making the world better without really trying
By eating only vegetarian for ONE DAY a week for one year, you will save 84,000 gallons of water, 245 pounds of grain, 7,700 square feet of rain forest, 15.5 gallons of gasoline and 400 pounds of animal manure. Not to mention the amount of animals you'll save. Imagine how much greater the impact would be if you cut out dairy and eggs as well. Everyone can do one day a week! One day a week is easy!
8. Learn a new skill (cooking!)
Being vegan has forced me to learn to cook. No longer can I just pop in a frozen pizza or macaroni and cheese for dinner. I needed to learn to actually eat like an adult. So I learned to make eggplant meatballs, black bean burgers, loaded vegan baked potatoes and cauliflower chicken wings.
9. Be adventurous
Why not try something new? If eating vegan for 30 days is something you've never done, why not try it? I promise you that it is the ultimate adventure. It totally takes you outside of your comfort zone. You realize you can't depend on Chick-fil-a anymore. You have to learn to feed your body with things it actually wants.
10. Grow as a person
Eating vegan has completely changed me into a more open-minded person. I'm more compassionate and tender hearted. I'm quicker to listen to opposite points of view. I see the beauty of doing what works for you. I appreciate our planet in a way I never did before. I actually think about being a responsible citizen of the earth. I've learned to question the "norm". I've learned to not be afraid to be different or go against society. It's been a beautiful thing.