So, if you recall, one of my main health goals for 2019 is to do a Veganuary: one month of eating vegan (with a few caveats). This will definitely also help kickstart my goal to follow Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen checklist of healthy foods you should eat every day.
I’ll be drawing inspiration from their website’s many free monthly vegan meal plans, and will try to use their free downloadable template too. (But I’ll probably end up just writing in meals on the whiteboard like I usually do).
Curious to know more? Read on…
What is Veganuary?
Veganuary actually started in 2014 in the UK as a nonprofit. It has since grown by leaps and bounds every year, with more than 250,000 people in 193 countries signing up for 2019.
From their own site: “Veganuary is dedicated to changing public attitudes, while providing all the information and practical support required to make the transition to veganism as easy and enjoyable as possible.”
So, before you start rolling your eyes and saying “I’d DIE without cheese!”, just realize it doesn’t mean you have to never eat those things you love ever again.
Just try one day, one week, without it.
Try ONE plant-based meat or cheese alternative. Try one meatless meal, there are plenty out there. I bet you eat some already without realizing it. Veggie lasagna, a million kinds of soups, salads, curries, tacos, pasta, all kinds of ethnic foods like Ethiopian and dal.
I bet you can make it one week. And then keep going, for one month.
Why should I try vegan for a month?
There are a ton of different reasons why people try or choose a vegetarian or vegan diet. If any of the below things are of concern to you, then give it a go.
Health -it is no secret by now that vegetarian and vegan diets are crazy good for your heart and your health and lowering your cancer risk. I don’t want to belabour the point too much, but whole grains, legumes, and veggies are f*@%ing good for you. Eat them.
Nutrition – today’s industrial, monocropped, chemicalized, carbohydrate-and-corn based “foods” are basically leading to a double pronged epidemic of obesity and malnutrition. Think about how crazy and confusing that is. Meanwhile, plants are jam-packed with the fiber, vitamins, and minerals your body is so desperately craving, which it uses to maintain blood pressure, rebuild cell walls and proteins, and keep your guts working normally.
Environment – if you think about what it takes to raise an animal to slaughter weight, you realize all the resources that go into it. Tons of food, perhaps literally, that had to be watered and fertilized and processed and trucked to where the animals live. Water, for them. Probably some amount of antibiotics or medications. Several months or possibly years of feed and care.
Then they must be transported to wherever they will be processed, be processed so they use electricity and manpower and machinery, then be packaged up and transported to the store, and finally be transported to your home. So each 1 pound of pork or chicken or beef costs gallons of water and oil and feed. Meanwhile, one pound of raw barley, oats, tomato, beans, or zucchini also takes water and oil, but far far less. A diet heavier in plant products than animal products is easier on the planet with very few exceptions.
Money – any diet can be as cheap or as expensive as you want it to be, depending on how much self control you have at the grocery store and how good your home cooking skills are. Unfortunately, due to demand, it is ususally cheaper to prepare convenience foods with animals, like a $12 salad versus a $8 burger. But it is always cheaper to cook at home, and better for you too. Want to know more about just how you could save nearly $200 a year by trying vegetarian? Read here, here, here, here, and here.
Animals – the industrial scale food production system is horrific. Just watch any documentary like Forks Over Knives, Food Inc, etc. or do some basic internet search. Beaks and teeth and tails cut off, animals crammed into living spaces just inches larger than they are, constant streams of antibiotics and growth hormones just to keep them alive and increase profit per pound, substandard and contaminated feed. Opt out of the industrial system at the very least, and if you eat animals, choose ones that were raised the way nature intended, out in the open on fields of grasses and bugs. Find a Farmers Market near you, there will definitely be people there you can ask.
How do you Veganuary?
One of the New Years’ Goals this year is for the boy and I to do a one month Veganuary. I foresee this not being too tough a challenge, as we already eat a large volume and variety of plant based foods. This will be harder on the boy, without turkey burritos, but I will try my darnedest to make him enjoy it with creative cooking!
We do have some specific caveats to our Veganuary, which is more like a “healthy-foods-only-anuary”, but that’s not as catchy.
- Animal foods we raise are okay. My quail eggs specifically.
- Animal foods that meet very strict criteria are okay: basically free range and/or mostly pastured, no added hormones or antibiotics or other non-medically-required chemicals. I.e. the dozen free range chicken eggs a friend gave to us for Christmas.
- No wasted food. If someone gives us a consumable gift, that can’t be preserved, we will eat it. Like a delicious banana bread loaf.
- The boy will keep using plain Greek yogurt on burritos and such. Because I don’t want this month to be torture.
- I will eat honey, dates, and things made with yeast. Because that definition of vegan is too strict for me. I’m in it for the health of it.
And that’s pretty much it! If it is made from or literally is a plant, we will eat it. We are trying to check all the boxes on the Daily Dozen by starting with a smoothie containing frozen berries, flax, and amla powder, with occasional banana or other fruit or almond milk or chia seeds tossed in. Lunch and dinner will be leftovers or a rotation of meals I know we like and new ones we will try together.
Is it too late to start?
No way! Just because it is no longer January 1, you can still start wherever you are.
You don’t even have to commit to a full month if you don’t want to.
Try vegan for one week maybe. Or go all in and do 6 months, it is up to you and your family. But I highly recommend giving it a shot, at least once. Worst case you end up finding new foods you might not have known about before.
You feel better than you have in years, you get off all long-term medications, your skin clears up and is radiant, your hair and nails are shiny and strong, and you are as regular as a clock.
What do you have to lose?
What do you say? Would you try eating more plants?