What I Learned During the Week I Chose to Go Vegan

During the first week of January, a group of friends and I committed to going vegan for a week, and it was interesting to say the least. To be honest, I laughed when the idea was proposed to me. How could I plan for such a thing on such short notice? Would I even survive to tell the tale about the week I gave up meat, eggs, sugar, and bread in my diet? (AKA, standard Ashley-staples). 

I thought about it for a few hours after the proposal and decided it might be something fun to do with people I care about. Then it transpired into an entire lesson on what it means to develop a plan and execute it well, take up space, and cooking for my own personal well-being. 

Before we get going, here are some vegan stats. You can read the article I gained some of these facts from here.

Vegan Stats
In the United States, 3.2%, or 7.3 Million adults are vegans. This lead me to ask the question “why?” and research a little more about the vegan lifestyle. This is what I found to be most interesting about why people go vegan:

1. Health and Nutrition - For years, vegans have been fighting this fact: it’s not necessary to have meat and other animal products to lead a healthy lifestyle. Plant based diets are the better choice, and by pure experimentation alone, I’d say I would agree given the stomach aches I endured for a few days after returning to my normal diet.

2. Morality — Unrelated to the article I got this point from, I watched a seriously convicting video that appeared on my Facebook newsfeed a few days after finishing my fast. It was a teacher / professor arguing the difference between the kinds of animals we decide to eat and the kinds of animals we would pet and call “cute.” He talked about how some foreign countries eat dog, which would be appalling to the greater population of Americans. This then caused him to ask his audience about the moral difference between eating the animals we protect and care for as opposed to ones that we eat as bacon on Saturday mornings. This comes down to a question of your own morality: What is the difference to you (if there is one)?

But without further adieu, here are the things I learned during my week of vegan-living, and why I would consider doing it  again. 

It’s one thing to plan, it’s another to actually execute the plan accordingly. Before the week even began, I started planning what I could eat and made lists based on things I had researched about a vegan diet. I’ve always loved making grocery lists, so this part was fun for me, and looking up simple recipes to help guide me on my way was super entertaining. 

I planned to get oatmeal, fruits, vegetables, and quinoa, which left me with a variety of ways to mix and match food in the morning and evening. What ended up happening for dinner and lunch was in all honesty, a mistake, but also the best thing that happened. It made my time in the kitchen — something I am SLOWLY learning to love — maximized to about one night (because I accidentally cooked for an army… oops).

Physical Benefits and Sharing a Story
Within two days, I was well aware of the physical benefits that moving to this diet was having on my body. I found that I could actually eat more without feeling bloated and when you love food as much as I do, this is a fantastic plus of moving toward this kind of diet. I sometimes find myself worrying about the little pouch in my stomach, but this week was very different and helpful in making that pouch disappear — and that boosted my confidence in a huge way physically. 

Not only physical benefits happened during the week, though. This was something I found to be helpful in bringing people alongside my story for a blip in time. It gave me a huge revelation about the difference in kind of writing I need to be executing on my blog and the kind of writing I need to be saving for a larger project I’m working on.

Relating to Others and Having Fun
Doing this with the friends I did was fun. I found myself thankful for the challenge throughout the week and the small laughs that it incited as we shared our “heartaches” and struggles about not being able to eat ice cream, dreaming about real chocolate milk, wanting cheesy pizza, or accidentally sipping on milk. 

Why I Would Choose It Again in the Future
Doing this for a week cleaned my system and made me think seriously about what I was putting inside of my body, something I never considered before. It’s funny how taking just a few little things out of my normal diet helped me focus and take the time to make sure it was good for me. 

Taking that time changed everything.

In a place where everything feels like “go go go” I am often swept away in the mindset that I need to be faster. I forget to sit and slow down. Slowing down looks different for everyone, but for me it looks like taking the time to plan and executing that plan in a manner that makes sense to the way I operate as a human being. 

I would choose a vegan diet for a longer period of time if I were fasting for something important, but personally, I do love meat, so I am beginning to see that I need to take the time to figure out how my normal eating habits can form into my everyday lifestyle.

That can look like meal planning and taking up space on the stove and in the kitchen at dinner time when I need to. It can also look like being intentional about the things I buy at the grocery store and choosing to eat in moderation.

If you’re vegan, why are you vegan? If you’re not, what helps you plan your meals for any given week accordingly, and what does eating in moderation look like for you? I’d love to hear about your experiences with food and cooking in the kitchen in the comments below.