I decided to go vegan for thirty days last month. I’d been toying with this idea for quite a while. One of the reasons was that I wanted to lose weight. Apart from that, I felt very sluggish and wanted to get rid of whatever was making me feel all fogged up and slow. And then I announced my plans to my office mates and it was on.
Now that the vegan experiment is safely behind me, here are the things I learned:
1) There really was a lot to eat
For some reason, I was worried that I’d be on a super restrictive diet. I think it’s because I was used to watching vlogs by vegans from western countries. I was all prepared to buy yeast to make vegan cheese and eat tons of tofu. Then I realized how rich Indian cuisine is. I ate my way through many south Indian meals which had no milk or milk products. Another favorite was Middle-Eastern cuisine – hummus, pita bread, olives, salads, etc. Whenever I went out or felt like treating myself, I ate Chinese food. I didn’t go hungry at all.
2) It was easier than I thought
I was worried that thirty days without cheese would be brutal on me. It wasn’t. In fact, I learned that weaning myself off meat and dairy was easy. The real culprit turned out to be sugar. I had a constant hankering for cake. And fries. And chocolates. Especially on days when I was stressed or bored.
3) Hanging out with boring people was a challenge
I realized how I used alcohol and indulgent foods to sit through boring outings with certain people. Now that alcohol (well, why not?), meat and dairy were out, it came down to the quality of the company. I canceled many plans. But the people I did meet turned out to be fun and interesting. This was such a breakthrough for me that I’ve decided to ask this question before meeting anyone,”Can I tolerate them over salad?” It’s a good way to know whom to keep and whom to lose.
Did I stay vegan for all 30 days? Nopes. I had milk tea a few times, a few chocolates and biryani at least thrice. But compared to my previous months’ consumption, I did really well. In fact, the exercise was so successful that I’ve decided to have more vegan and vegetarian meals going forward.
Here’s the thing I learned – our body can survive and even thrive on nutritious healthy food. All the fun foods we crave are for the mind. Vegan food didn’t give me the same high (or subsequent crashes) that I got from, say, a pepperoni pizza. And that got me thinking – why do I even need to feel high to get through my days.
It’s funny how changing our diet can end up changing us. This month I’ve embarked on a more mindful way of eating. And no, I’m not cutting out anything. I’m just planning my meals so that they’re more wholesome and filling. Lifestyle changes and not quick fixes – that’s what I am after.
Image Credits: Isidor Emanuel