After watching a series of health/do-good/humansareassholes documentaries over the past few months, Lauren (the wife) and I decided to try being vegan for a month – our own little Vegan-vember™.
The purpose of this was three-fold:
- To see if removing meat and dairy products from our daily intake would affect our bodies in any way
- To forcefully educate ourselves on creating meals that didn’t include meat or dairy – a little education on our part
- A personal challenge to see if we could actually last the whole month
Four big, scary facts that led us to this decision:
- For every 100kg of grain a beef cow eats, it yields only 1kg of meat.
- Dairy milk is basically baby cow food. It never properly dawned on me until recently. I know, I know.
- The amount of land required for beef farming (which includes the grain grown specifically for them to eat, as well as the land they need to roam) is staggering. Forests are being mowed down at a crazy pace to allow for more growth in the industry.
- Cow farts are bad for the earth, apparently.
Before I continue, let me just state that we both agreed to not starve ourselves should a non-vegan meal be the only option on the table (out of our control). I figure any vegan who wouldn’t slaughter a pig to feed his starving family is not a purist, he’s just an idiot. Hence, I didn’t last a full vegan month.
Of the total 90 breakfasts, lunches and dinners in November, I scored 91,1% vegan success. It’s like I could’ve passed SA matric 3 times, so I consider that a huge high-five for me.
How was the month in the end? Not bad actually.
Stats on health:
- I lost weight (in the right places).
- My weight dropped from a high of 80,5 kg (start on the month) and ended on 74,5 kg. No dramatic additional exercise was added to my regime, this I believe was purely diet.
- My snoring (which is a serious problem, we’ve actually considered surgery to fix it) stopped almost entirely after the first week. I haven’t worn my snore-guard since 10 November (and still going strong).
- I used to get quite tired around 4pm every day, now I only get tired at around 9pm just before bed.
- I’m sleeping like the dead and waking up feeling strong.
Thoughts/epiphanies on eating vegan:
- Before we started, we read a lot about the dangers of eating vegan by replacing meat/dairy with vegan-friendly-but-unhealthy food. We avoided that for the most part. Sometimes we made vegan-cake-in-a-mug which is basically sugar, with cocoa for colour. Hey, we’re only human.
- Vegan meals consist of more than just steamed vegetables. I know, right!?
- It’s almost impossible to ‘pop in to the shops’ and grab a delicious vegan readymade bite to eat. Almost every readymade meal you see on the shelves (sandwiches, pastas, even salads) includes meat or dairy. I never realised how much so until now. It’s crazy.
- Also, almost all restaurants don’t cater for vegan. The best restaurant options we found for any vegan (or at least vegetarian) diets are Asian.
- Eating at home however is way easier, and we’ve found a bucketload of new delicious recipes we’ve added to our repertoire. Yes, repertoire.
- I’m almost entirely off dairy, and will continue to live so. The occasional cheese platter will still be smashed with great wine, but the days of dairy lattes are a thing of the past. Rooibos and green tea are amazing choice alternatives.
- Meat intake will also be dramatically reduced. Not entirely, but vegan meals will be far outweighing meat/dairy meals from now on.
Our original decision was to try save the world one little moo-moo at a time, but the health impact, personally, is far greater for me. If I can be healthy and save a cow or two in the process, it’s a win-win.
For us it’s about small changes that will make a big impact in the end. Finding a balance that’s personally and globally sustainable isn’t terrible either. Try it.
All meals pictured above were full-on vegan creations by either Lauren or myself (or both of us) at home.