The Vegan Challenge

Today is the last day of the Vegan Challenge that I took part in via veganchallenge.nl. This website organized a challenge in which abo...


Today is the last day of the Vegan Challenge that I took part in via veganchallenge.nl. This website organized a challenge in which about 3000 people took part in the month April. They sent each participant a daily e-mail with new recipes and information about a plant based diet lifestyle. A plant based diet basically means that you do not consume meat, fish or dairy products such as milk or eggs.
After doing this challenge for a month, I decided now would be a great time to share my experience with you!

Why did I participate in the Vegan Challenge?
  • In the first place I'd like to explain to you why I decided to start the challenge. Part of the reason was that recently I've met a lot of people who follow a plant based diet. After I moved to a new city where I study I university, I first got in contact with vegans. Before that I'd never heard anyone talk about veganism and to be honest, I didn't really know what it was. When I found out that vegans only eat products that are plant based, I was kinda shocked. My initial idea was that these people were crazy and that they probably only lived on raw vegetables and fruit. I think that this is the biggest misconception about veganism because there are so many products that are plant based but still delicious, for example, Oreo cookies, different types of crisps and dark chocolate.
  • Another reason why I was really motivated to try the challenge was because I watched the documentary Cowspiracy. I would recommend everyone to watch it because it is so interesting and I think a lot of people are not aware of the damage that the animal husbrandy does to the environment. I was not aware of this before I watched it either. I used to think that vegetarians or vegans only skipped eating meat because they felt bad for the animals, but after watching the documentary I realized that there are so many more reasons (as you can see in the picture above).
My experience with...
  • Changing what I eat in a day
    When it comes to my daily food schedule, I didn't feel like I had to change a lot. On a regular day, I always start my day with a bowl of oat meal porridge (with water) and an apple. For lunch I usually have bread. The only thing I had to change was that I used to put butter on my bread but that is a dairy product so I had to buy a vegan friendly variant of that. I also had to look for plant based bread spreads, so I've been eating a lot of peanut butter, marmalade and hummus over the past month. For the majority of the week I cook dinner for just me so it was easy to adjust to my new lifestyle because I never used to eat that much meat or fish anyway. There are so many vegan recipes out there so I had no trouble finding something to eat.
  • Finding plant based alternatives
    I've tried a lot of different vegetable burgers, mock chicken and mock meat and most of it was really good! It surprises me how much of these products are available in normal supermarkets and how much they actually taste like real meat. I was happy to find that there are even vegan chickens nuggets! However, just because these products are vegetarian does not mean that they are also vegan. Some types of mock meat of chicken do contain milk so I still had to check the ingredients every time I went to buy some.
    I've also discovered how much variants there are to yoghurt, ice cream and milk. For instance, the brand Alpro has a lot of soy based variants to yoghurt or pudding.
  • Finding vegan snacks
    As I already mentioned, there are cookies and crisps that are vegan but it is a good idea to look on the internet before you go to the supermarket which are plant based. My trips to the supermarket have taken me a lot longer than usual because I had to check the ingredients on almost everything I bought. A lot of products contain milk powder even though you do not expect them to have milk in them.
  • Eating at someone else's place
    This has been the hardest thing for me this month. When I was cooking for just me and able to check all the ingredients in everything, I was fine, but when you're eating at someone else's house you are not always able to do that. Avoiding meat is easy, but avoiding dairy products is hard when you do not know what most standard products contain. For instance, the first day of my challenge I accidentally ate crisps at a birthday party that contained milk powder because I didn't check the ingredients. I've also found that most people do not really understand why someone would follow a plant based diet and do not really want to make an effort to support them.
  • Going out for dinner
    Going out for dinner was also a bit more difficult than I expected. When I went out for dinner with friends and they were all eating meat while I was eating from the vegetarian menu I didn't feel like I was missing anything, but for dessert they only had options like cheese cake or ice cream (which all contain dairy products). Another restaurant I went to was happy to make a change in their menu for me so that I could still stick to my plant based diet. There are also lots of restaurants in the city where I live that offer special vegan menus so it just depends on where you go.  
  • Baking
    I love baking and I was a little afraid that I would not be able to make my favourite pies or cakes anymore because most of them contain milk and eggs. But I've learned that you can so easily replace normal milk with a soy variant and that you don't need eggs to make a great pie. You can basically bake anything by using plant based varients and it will taste just as delicious!
My advice... 
  • If you are interested in veganism I would definitely try to do a challenge like this one! The one I did was only for Dutch speakers because all the recipes were in Dutch, but I'm sure there are also many other challenges on the internet that you can participate in. The great thing about a challenge is that you cannot postpone it, because if you start to think about it, it seems like it is always a bad time to start a vegan diet because you'll probably have something planned like going out for dinner, a dinner party, a festival or anything like that where sticking to your plant based diet may be a little more difficult.
  • Do research on the internet about which products are vegan friendly because it is probably better than what I did, as I on multiple occasions just wandered around the supermarket for half an hour because I didn't know what I could eat haha.
  • Tell people around you that you are going vegan. They may not be as enthousiastic about it as you are, but it is better to let them know anyway.
My plans after the challenge ends...
  • This month I learned that I can live perfectly fine without meat, chicken or fish and that the mock variants to this are also pretty good. I didn't miss meat at all so I think I am not going to eat it anymore after the challenge ends.
  • I've realised that diary products are a lot harder to avoid so I think I'm just going to have to learn more about which products contain milk (powder) or eggs and that I will try to ban these products from my diet more gradually. In the meantime I will also have more time to find variants.
  • I'm not going to label myself as vegetarian or vegan just yet but I think I definitely will work towards this in the coming period!

I hope you enjoyed reading about my experience! Let me know in the comments if you have any questions or comments :)

Image: Leonie Wise via Unsplash

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