30 Day Vegan Challenge

People have followed vegan diets for decades, but this way of eating has not become mainstream until more recently. The food landscape has evolved so much to meet the demands of consumers for more plant-forward options. These options include minimally-processed plants as well as plant-based alternatives to conventional meat, seafood, dairy, and eggs. 

But what does it mean to follow a vegan diet, what benefits does it offer, and how can you stay committed to it for a 30 day vegan challenge? 

Understanding Veganism

A vegan diet is one that excludes animal products and byproducts. It excludes eggs, poultry, seafood, fish, meat, and sometimes honey, and animal derived dairy products like cheese, butter, and milk. Instead, a vegan diet is made up of plant-derived foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and grains. 

The principles of a vegan diet generally also extend beyond food choices. It may also involve aspects of everyday life, such as the types of clothing, materials, and personal care products one uses. The underlying premise of a vegan diet is to do the least harm possible to others — including animals, the environment, and other humans — with one’s food and lifestyle choices. 

Benefits of Doing a 30-Day Vegan Challenge

There are numerous misconceptions about veganism. While many people may be under the impression that a vegan diet is too restrictive to meet your nutritional needs. Or is too difficult to adhere to or find satisfaction in, or doesn’t make much of a difference. These perspectives couldn’t be further from the truth. 

In fact, a vegan diet that incorporates plenty of minimally-processed whole plant foods can do wonders for your health, while advocating for animals and practicing stewardship toward the environment we all share.

Health Benefits

Regardless of the overall diet pattern, extensive research has demonstrated the benefits of consuming an abundance of minimally-processed plant foods. These benefits grow the more plant foods — and fewer animal products — make up the diet. Plants are rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. These nutrients offer benefits for the heart, digestive system, brain, immunity, healthy weight maintenance, and chronic disease prevention.

Environmental Impact

The way animal products are made is largely unsustainable and has many negative effects on the planet around us. Industrialized animal farms — also called concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) — are overcrowded. They also require an abundance of natural resources, and pollute the air, water, and land with chemicals and waste. 

Not to mention, one 2021 study concluded that people who lived in close proximity to CAFOs had a significantly higher risk of anemia, and cardiovascular and kidney disease mortality due to their exposures.

Animal Welfare

Many people adopt a vegan lifestyle because its moral implications align better with their personal ethics. Eating plant foods instead of animal products spares the lives of many animals being raised for food in industrialized farm settings. In the long run, this helps reduce consumer demand for said products and increase that for plant-based alternatives. 

Preparing for a 30-Day Vegan Challenge

In order to be successful in any kind of challenge, it’s important to adequately prepare for it, especially if it’s something you’ve never done before. 

First, set clear goals and intentions for the month ahead.  Consider what is and is not realistic for you to take on and what you’re most interested in getting out of the process. This also means educating yourself on the reasons why so many people are ditching animal products. After all, no sustainable change occurs unless we have a deep-seated reason to believe in its positive effects.

Next, if you’ve never adhered to a vegan diet before, it’s important to become knowledgeable about what it will look like for you. This includes understanding the basics of vegan nutrition, what foods and supplements are going to help ensure that you’re meeting your needs, and how to prevent potential nutrient deficiencies.

Finally, prepare your kitchen for the upcoming change. This might mean getting rid of any non-vegan items from your pantry, fridge, and freezer. Start thinking about how you’re going to replace certain foods and what types of meals and snacks you’re interested in making. 

Navigating Potential Challenges

As with any new habit, especially one involving major changes to your diet pattern, it’s realistic to expect obstacles. This also means that it’s to your benefit to begin thinking of how you can be prepared to respond to certain challenges. 

Some of the most commonly reported challenges of those who are new to adopting a vegan diet include: 

  • Navigating social situations, including fielding questions from others
  • Responding to cravings with plant-based alternatives
  • Planning vegan meals and snacks
  • Using vegan ingredients you may not be used to 
  • Having ideas for where to eat out and what to order 
  • How to use dietary supplements appropriately to ensure micronutrient needs are met

Some of these things will just become easier with time and practice. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do some forethinking to prepare yourself as much as possible. Talking with others who follow a vegan diet, perusing supportive resources, and experimenting with new ingredients right away can be game-changers. 

Beyond the 30-Day Challenge

It may be hard to visualize what the end of your 30-day vegan challenge will look like. I can promise that you will have new perspectives, experiences, and likely even a transformed palette. 

If after these 30 days, you find that a vegan lifestyle worked well for you, the next best step is to continue exploring. Ongoing education and advocacy for environmental issues, animal welfare, and personal and public health are essential for maintaining a connection with your food and lifestyle choices. 

A vegan diet based on predominantly whole plant foods can offer so much in the way of nutrition, long-term wellness, and awareness. Embrace the experience presented to you in these 30 days. Make more conscious choices and don’t be afraid to take some risks along the way.

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I work with people to help them eat more plants.  

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