Hello friends! How are you?! Sorry for the accidental break. It wasn’t completely intentional. I just sort of lost track of the days with Marlowe out of school and Alex crazy busy at work. It’s just been a different kind of week, ya know? I’m sure you feel it too though. Cause even if you don’t celebrate this time of year, it gets hectic. I’ve just wanted to slow down and enjoy this time with my family. Anyway, I wanted to come on here to talk about #Veganuary… and I guess #AnyoneCanGoVegan too. I saw these hashtags floating around online lately, and well, I thought it would be fun to encourage you guys to give the ideas a go!
#Veganuary (without actually looking into it myself) is pretty self explainable. Vegan for the month of January. Pretty easy, eh? Well, easy depending on what way you look at it. If you eat dairy, going vegan might actually be harder than you expect! You gotta get over some pretty serious casein addictions to make it happen! It’s hard for some, trust me, I know firsthand. But it is straightforward for sure! An entire month free of animal products, and ideally unprocessed foods 🙂
And #AnyoneCanGoVegan, well, I sort of touched on this the other night on instagram during a whim moment. I didn’t actually mention the hashtag, but I shared a bit of my story and the very (VERY) toxic lifestyle I lived before deciding to dive into this whole food plant-based vegan lifestyle. The reality is that if someone like me could make such a drastic 180 switch to veganism, then anyone can. Seriously, anyone CAN go vegan! I did it!
A bit of backstory of my diet and life, if you don’t know it…
I literally didn’t eat a single vegetable for years. The closest thing I ate to a vegetable was boxed mashed potatoes or frozen or canned corn (not actually a vegetable, guys!). I had two high school phases: my Massachusetts one and my Florida one. In Florida, I ate Dunkin donuts bagels for breakfast. Poptarts for lunch. And Dominos pizza or cereal for dinner. In Massachusetts I ate frozen waffles for breakfast, chips (Munchos, omg so crunchy) and a candy bar, or styrofoam packaged instant ramen for lunch. I’d come home and eat more waffles, pizza bagels, or some other frozen meal. And typically dinner consisted of instant mashed potatoes, fried corn, or grilled cheese.
Oh and during this time I absolutely loved making sandwiches of peanut butter, fluff, and fruity pebbles (yep) or grilled cheese with about a three-inch-thick layer of cheese. During my college years, I existed on pizza every single day (sometimes multiple meals a day), waffles, candy bars (at least one or two a day), bagged shredded cheese that I would heat up on a skillet, microwave rice, nachos, or pasta with alfredo sauce.
Leaving college I didn’t eat much better. I put on a ton of weight (I was about 30 pounds heavier than I am now). I drank myself silly. I lived off all forms of cheese and bread. And I considered myself fancy because I put basil on pizza or because I drank wine with my nachos. My roommates would buy a small bag of shredded cheese for themselves for the week, and I would buy the family size bag for myself. Never was I aware of the fact that my chronic sinus infections, my deathly periods, my acne, my depression, and my chronic constipation were due to my diet. Hell, I didn’t even know I was constipated! Because of the fact that my whole life I had never pooped more than once every three-four days… and no one told me I should be doing otherwise. Yeah, thats a one-way ticket straight to colon-cancer-ville.
I had crazy anxiety, crazy, unshakable depression, fibrocystic breasts, nonstop cysts and tumors in my ovaries (and just about everywhere else too), and more. I took over 50 rounds of antibiotics in my lifetime. Constant rounds of ance medications, anti-depressants, anti-anxiety meds, and more. I was miserable and I never understood why. I remember laughing one day when a boss I had told me that there were people in the world called “fruitarians” that only ate fruits. I legit, did not believe him. I was vegetarian at the time. The idea still seemed crazy.
But veganism didn’t seem that crazy…
And so one day (well, actually it took quite a bit of time if I’m being honest)… I decided to go vegan. I tried. And failed. And tried. And failed. But eventually, I committed. I told myself that there wasn’t an all or nothing goal. That I would aim for a few weeks and take it day by day. It turns out that was the best decision I could have ever made for myself.
At the time I was going vegan *for the animals*. I hated animals being mistreated (hence me giving up meat almost a decade earlier). But I didn’t realize how tortured dairy cows (or chickens) were by conventional factory farming. Well, the day I discovered this, I was so grossed out by the idea of pus, mucus, and blood in dairy that I decided to keep this in mind with every cheese craving I had.
It wasn’t always easy. Going vegan was a bit of a learning curve for me. At the time veganism was a whole other world. There was ONE brand of vegan cheese in the supermarkets (and it was gross), maybe two kinds of soy milk, and a few crappy processed meat replacements. Veganism was nothing like it is now. Now there are entire supermarkets filled with exclusively vegan products! It’s INSANE guys! New vegans have no idea how difficult it was then. I feel like an old person saying that, but seriously. These kiddos and new inspiring vegans have no idea how easy they have it!
I had zero idea how to cook either. ZERO. The closest thing to cooking I did was buying pita bread and make a pizza out of it, boiling noodles and jarred pasta for sauce, or putting cheese in a sandwich and calling it a meal. It’s not like I jumped into the kitchen with all these amazing ideas, skilled techniques, or years of experience.
I jumped into the kitchen with a crappy Ikea knife, a goal, and a whole lot of light-heartedness and self-compassion for my time of learning.
Seriously, if I can go vegan. Anyone can go vegan.
So what about Veganuary?
Well, I’m not telling you guys that you need to make a change and be vegan forever. I get how a commitment of that caliber can be overwhelming or scary for some. (Commitment scares me too). Veganuary is about going vegan for one month…. testing the waters so you can understand the benefits of it firsthand! Can’t knock it til you try it, right? So what about going vegan for the month of January? Sharpening up your knife (no matter how crappy your knife might be) and diving into a vegan (or we can call it *plant-based* if you prefer) diet for the month? I mean, we can get super technical and talk about nutritarian diets, fruitarian diets, high carb low-fat diets, and more. But the reality is, we don’t need to even think that hard. Just cut out the extra meat, dairy, eggs, and call it a clean, earth and body-loving month!
What do you think? Do you think you could manage the month? And see how you feel? And create a positive sustainable change? Even if it’s just short term?
Vegan for your health
I tell people the first two weeks are the hardest. You start to detox your digestive tract and feel, well, unwell. But give it time… about two weeks in and you’ll feel amazing. You’ll have new and improved bathroom trips like never before. Your skin can clear up. Sinus congestion can go away (Alex stopped snoring and his breath stopped smelling bad when he went vegan). Your digestion will improve. And (this is dependent on situation and person to person) but there’s a good chance extra anxiety and depression can clear too. For me, it lessoned ALOT but really cleared out once I made extra diet and lifestyle changes. I would never think of taking an anti-depressant EVER again. Seriously, with that new and improved digestion, your mood will greatly enhance and you’ll be a kinder, happier person. Your microbes will be fed and happy. Your hormones will balance. Your menstrual cycle will improve. And so much more.
I didn’t go vegan for my health. I went vegan out of pure disgust for the animal agriculture system. But after two weeks of being vegan? I knew I could never go back to my vegetarian lifestyle again. I stayed vegan for my health. Did I miss cheese? Of course. My mouth still waters walking by a crappy pizza place, but the health I received from giving up cheese was well worth the challenge. And hey, it’s not challenging anymore. The first two weeks are also the hardest because cheese is highly addictive. No joke, it’s been compared to opiate addictions. But once you break that addiction to milk protein (casein), you’ll find it easier too.
Vegan for the planet
The reality is that we’re at a tipping point on our planet. Our planet cannot sustain our current consumption rates and resource use. We don’t have enough land to feed people the standardized western diet. I touched on this in my post about composting, but we could save 26.7 gigatons of CO2 emissions by all going plant-based. AND an additional 39.3 gigatons of CO2 emissions by not cutting down our rainforest for meat production. That’s a crap ton of CO2 that would no longer be a threat to our atmosphere! 68.28 gigatons of CO2 saved by going plant-based alone. This doesn’t include reforestation and oxygen emissions that could happen by all the land being used for food-growing. 80% of the Amazon rainforest deforestation is due to animal agriculture. And 30% of animal species extinction has been linked to animal agriculture.
Honestly, there are so many more reasons, the list could go on and on (land loss, water-usage and shortages and more more more). But if one person went plant-based for ONE year, they could save 168,000 gallons of water! And if everyone in the world consumed a primarily whole food, plant-based diet, nearly 5 billion football fields of land could be restored to forests of the world! That’s a lot of renewal!
You don’t need a set reason or plan to be vegan… though it can help.
Your reason for going vegan for the month (or forever) could be for the animals, for your health, or for the planet… or it could be for the mere fact that it’s a new year and it could be really great to step out of your daily habit. You have the opportunity to create new and empowering habits! Charge up new neurons in that human brain of yours! Woot!
You absolutely won’t lose anything by going vegan for the month (well, maybe some pounds or some acne). And you have so much to gain! How ever, you want to dive into the challenge that is up to you. Maybe ask a friend to join? Maybe make a plan for the whole family. Maybe dive right in with eyes closed and an open heart and be creative in the kitchen. Or maybe you need a game plan and should consider binge-watch 15 hours of youtube vegan cooking videos first. Whatever is best for you!
What do you think? Can you do it? One month and then go from there! maybe you decide it’s not for you, maybe you like to keep your addictions (that’s a thing), or maybe you too feel the health benefits so many have experienced and you stick to it too. There are SO many resources and products out there these days that there really is zero excuses not to dive right it. You could legit eat a rice and bean bowl from Chiptole for every single meal for the next whole month and call yourself vegan. For real, no excuses not to!
Some tips for going vegan and making this the best vegan month EVER:
- Don’t overthink it. For real. That’s the biggest setback. Don’t psych yourself up. You can figure out all the details as you go, but for right now, the goal is to break unhealthy food addictions and to feel the benefit of eating so many plants! You can get to the little details later.
- Drink loads of water, especially in the beginning. You’ll be detoxing a bit, so extra water will lessen any ill detox feelings you might experience.
- Buy or borrow some cookbooks! The Plantiful Table is a great one 😉 Super easy, family friend, comfort meals! All the good things!
- Check out blogs or youtube for recipes. There are TONS of recipes on this blog. And tons of inspiration in the What Marlowe Eats post.
- Find your “why” — there are SO many documentaries on veganism and health these days. Legit, there are probably 30 on Netflix alone. Maybe more. (I have no idea). Dive into them! I’m not really into vegan docs (I’m already vegan), but I just watched Game Changers last month, it was great!
- Ask a friend a join! Or get your family on board! Gosh, community is so important when making big changes! Have a friend join in on the challenge and check-in with each other daily.
- Ask a vegan friend for help. Most will be happy to share a meal with you, suggest their favorite tips, recipes, products, etc.
- Clear out your fridge and cabinets! Donate non-vegan non-perishable items to a food drive so they won’t be in your cabinets taunting you. Start with a nice clean slate of health, natural, mostly unprocessed vegan foods.
- Be mindful of how and when you eat. Check out this post on food combining.
- Fill up on fruit and vegetables! The act of going vegan alone will help, but to get the absolute most benefits from this month, you should fill up on real foods found in nature the most. Sure, you can treat yourself to that coconut milk ice cream or a processed vegan burger, but remember, just because something is vegan, doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Fruits and vegetables first.
- Seriously– fill up on fresh fruits and vegetables. Don’t worry about calories so much. As long as you’re eating food made in nature and mostly unprocessed, the calories won’t matter, you can eat until you’re full (and you should). It gets hard when you let yourself get hungry. Starving won’t benefit you!
- Meal plan if you need to. I don’t plan meals for the week, but I do have a general idea of the meals I may or may not prepare. This tip is specific to how you function best, but many will find it easier to have a plan in mind so they don’t fall back into old habits.
- Eat locally, seasonally, or whatever you like best. I don’t expect you guys to be going out and stocking up on jackfruit and rambutans. That’s not practical for 99% of you. Eat what’s local and in-season for you guys… maybe that’s pumpkins and potatoes. But hey, if you love pineapples, and it’s not exactly local for you, maybe buy bags of frozen pineapples for the month. I mean, yeah, it’s not great the earth from a CO2 emissions standpoint, but overall, it’s about adjustment. And committing to making the switch will create an array of long-term planet benefits. You can make the transition to a local and seasonal diet later (so many health + planet benefits to eating this way). For now, focus on the vegan, plant-based part.
- Check out HappyCow or Yelp to find restaurants and stores near you. There are so many vegan-friendly restaurants in the world these days. Just because you’re going vegan, doesn’t mean you’re locked at home!
- Check out some informational (non-cookbook) vegan books. Off the top of my head: 801010 and The China Study, and How Not To Die, are great ones!
- Smile. For real. Jump in with a positive mindset. Your body is going to feel some major benefits and your mind is going to feel more calm, clear, and kind than ever before. You’re going to feel really good. So smile and remind yourself of that 🙂
What to kick it up another notch?
I feel like I can’t do this post without mentioning this… if you’re into it and up for a challenge, consider cutting out gluten, processed sugar, and alcohol too! For real. You’ll see even more health benefits this way! And cutting out processed foods would be AMAZING! Or at least lowering your intake of processed foods, either way, aim for primarily unprocessed. But definitely cutting gluten, sugar, and alcohol would be crazy beneficial for you guys! Think about it!
One last thing… The Plantiful Table giveaway!
For fun and inspiration, I thought I should give away a few cookbooks! I’ll be sending out a cookbook to two email subscribers. You can go ahead and sign up on the right there (if you’re on a desktop) or on the bottom of the page. And I’ll be giving a few copies on instagram and maybe facebook too! So if you’re feeling lucky and want to enter for a chance to win, go ahead and enter your email. I’ll never, ever spam ya. Promise!
Alright, guys! I don’t want to overwhelm you! I could seriously go on and on for health tips and how to eat best (intermittent fasting, how to tell if fruit and veg are ripe, what processed foods to avoid, yada yada), but let’s start here! The best tip I can give you is just to not overthink and enjoy it! Breathe through the tough days and celebrate the good days. That’s all you can do in life, right?
I really hope you join in. From personal experience, going vegan was truly the best decision I ever made for myself. I HIGHLY suggest you at least give it a shot for the 30 days and see for yourself 🙂
Happy almost #VEGANUARY!
Oh ps. (sorry last thing, haha). If you’re really wanting to dive into this whole vegan, sustainable, and regenerative lifestyle, we only have two spots left on our retreat! Totally a great opportunity to fully immerse yourself in a plant-based world and make some really amazing changes for yourself and the planet!