So when I stumbled upon some vegan food blogs in college, they piqued my interest. I hadn't been eating much meat when cooking for myself at school, maybe chicken or salmon once a week, and cheese was never something highlighted in my meals. The main animal products I consumed were eggs and greek yogurt. I switched to almond milk, experimented with numerous vegan recipes, and found it delicious and doable. I bought my first vegan cookbook, "The Kind Diet" by Alicia Silverstone, which highlighted the three main reasons why people go vegan: personal health, welfare of animals, and environmental sustainability. At the time, I was most moved by the way animals were treated by the industry and shocked to find out how products like milk or eggs could do so much harm.
From that point forward I consumed any lingering animal products in my fridge (or pawned them off on my roommates, because veganism does not support being wasteful) and either didn't replace them or found a fitting plant-based alternative. The journey was not always easy. Just because something is vegan does not mean it is healthy. Living a successful and healthy vegan lifestyle requires extensive research, planning, and time. So I call my veganism a "journey" because I am always learning new things, exploring new ideas, trying new approaches, and encountering new challenges.
I am at somewhat of a transitional period in my life, having just earned my Masters degree in Health and Exercise Science at Wake Forest University and subsequently moving home to Colorado, hoping to find a job in the area. This is a time that requires patience and "Divine anticipation" (for those of you who believe in that kind of thing) and also presents a great opportunity to pursue some of my passions. That is why I am starting up my food blog again. I aim to do some dramatic "revamping", including reformatting, changing the blog's name, and buying a domain. This will take time, but I hope that my content reflects this goal.
That is why I am beginning this reintroduction with a "21-Day Vegan Challenge". I have spoken with my family members, and they have agreed to participate in this challenge with me. In the next few days, I will introduce you to each of them and delve deeper into what this challenge entails. For today, let me answer the same questions they will be answering before the challenge launches on July 10th...
Q #1. How confident are you in your ability to complete 21 days on a vegan diet on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being not at all confident and 10 being extremely confident? (My HES friends will recognize this as "self-efficacy" - a vital parameter in the health psychology world)
Eight. The reason I am not a 10 is because I plan to challenge myself extra, by placing stricter guidelines on my challenges. These include abstaining from added sugars and most processed foods, but I will talk about these more at a later time. If it was about simply maintaining a vegan diet, I would be a 10.
Q #2. What are the foods you will miss most while on this diet?
Sweetener in my coffee, alcohol, eggs. Side note - Although I am a vegan, I do eat (and use occasionally in baking) eggs from a local farm, because I have seen the living conditions of these chickens and they are also Animal Welfare Approved. This is the only way I would eat eggs, I do not eat anything containing eggs under any other circumstances. While not all vegans will agree with me, let's all remember that veganism is about impacting the welfare of animals, the environment, and your own health to whatever extent you can. This lifestyle extends into the clothes we wear and other products we buy...and we are all just doing our best. Yes, I know they are chicken periods...but they are delicious, dang it!
Q #3. What are your general perceptions of or attitudes toward veganism?
Veganism is a way of life that extends beyond a plant-based lifestyle. With enough people on board, it could have a huge impact on healthcare costs, an extremely positive effect on our environment, and end so much unnecessary animal suffering. The challenge is spreading the word in a non-threatening, non-judgmental manner. This movement is harmed just as any other "extreme" viewpoint on religion or lifestyle can be, when the loudest voices attack those who don't agree with them. Vegans are responsible for making sure they are welcoming and understanding. Our government and other organizations which hold power in society have a responsibility not to allow money to drive their decisions and not to claim ignorance.
Q #4. If you were ultimately convinced to go vegan, what would most likely be your reason: personal health, welfare of animals, or environmental sustainability?
All three drive my choice to maintain a vegan lifestyle.
Q #5. What do you hope to gain from this experience?
Convincing my family to consume less animal products. Personally, I would like to lose some inches and have clearer skin.
Q #6. Is there anything you absolutely do not want to eat while on this diet?
Nope! I'm open to anything that falls within the requirements I'm setting for myself and my family.
Q #7. Any guilty pleasures that may act as temptations on this diet?
Sweets, simple carbs such as bread, nut butter, coffee, alcohol.
Q #8. What do you do for physical activity?
Since I am living at home without access to a gym, I am relying on walking my dogs 2-3 miles a day and doing body weight resistance training every other day. I also like to hike. I am a swimmer, so as soon as I have access to a pool again, I will swim 2-3 times a week.
Q #9: How much energy would you say you feel you have throughout the day on a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being feeling lethargic or fatigued and 10 being alert and as if you always want to be on the move, with energy to spare.
Six, currently. There is definitely room for improvement here and I know that it is closely connected to my diet, exercise, and sleep habits. I have had weeks where I feel like a 10, even under pretty intense stress.
Q #10. How much sleep on average do you think you need at night to feel rested and energized?
Nine hours. But I know I can get by on seven and a half. Anything less and I struggle.
So those are the 10 questions I will be asking my family members. What questions do you have? Anything else that you feel should be addressed?