One Month Challenge: No Meat, No Dairy, No Problem, Week Five

Alas, my challenge has come to an end. But rewind a week ago and it was Thanksgiving – a pretty big hurdle as a vegan. Yeah, the whole not being able to eat Turkey thing was obvious but I didn’t know just how many Thanksgiving meals are made with eggs or milk as well, so a lot of dishes had to be made differently to make them vegan. Luckily, my family had a low-key holiday and cooked ourselves. So I got to make all sorts of vegan goodies like sweet potatoes, stuffed mushrooms, sautéed spinach and brownies. Of course we did get a tofurkey to top it all off, which was a total disappointment. But overall, I actually didn’t miss the meat and it turned out well.
The whole experience has made me want to continue with a vegan diet, but I’ve definitely had my doubts. Even as I hit my stride and it got easier toward the end, I still get tempted to just get a slice of pizza or chicken teriyaki for a quick dinner, but I try to remember that more often than not, this is what I want and after learning about the ethical reasons of veganism, that food just wouldn’t taste as good anyway.
Doing a challenge like this has actually really made me realize a few things:
1) I can do it! I know it’s cheesy to say “you can do anything you put your mind to!” but really, it’s possible to take a step totally out of your comfort zone and actually finish strong. I NEVER would have thought that I could live without chicken fingers, mac and cheese, or froyo, but I did it because…
2) Pulling it off is easier when you tell someone what you’re trying to do. In my case, I was broadcasting my challenge to all of you lovely CollegeCandy readers. But for any sort of goal you are working toward, filling someone in on it makes you feel more accountable for actually achieving it. I sure wasn’t going to chow down on a steak because I knew I’d have to come clean about it with all of you later. But sometimes…
3) Social factors can really throw you off track. Holiday traditions, going out with friends, the pressure of what everyone around you seems to be doing – all of these things can stress a girl out when she’s trying something a little different, especially if it’s something food-related. I know, it’s not groundbreaking news that any kind of dieting can be hard when you’re influenced by people around you, but this was something I hadn’t felt this extremely until this challenge. And finally…
4) Eating is not an automatic, robotic action. Giving thought to what foods I am and am not eating has made me realize how people are able to actually focus on what they choose to eat. Yes, we need to eat to survive and it is a necessary, natural thing, but a chance for people to think about what makes them feel best. I’ve definitely learned about how eating differently can totally affect my mood and body. And also that junk food and pigging out is a completely real possibility for a vegan – it’s not all kale and wheat grass – and it’s just as bad to go on a binge, even if you’re staying true to veganism!
Just because this happened to work out well for me doesn’t make me feel like some sort of crazy vegan cult recruiter. I’m not necessarily into converting people; it just makes sense the way I see it. It’s interesting to think that what people think of as the “norm” is not always the best way for everybody. It makes me wonder what other things seem normal just due to the fact that people haven’t tried it differently. So go and try something way out there that seems too hard, too weird or too unexplainable. It’s fun! And you might learn something about yourself you never would’ve before.

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