My Little Experiment: Going Vegan for a Month

During February, I’ll be cutting out all animal products from my diet. Yes, even cheese.

I recently made the decision to take a one-month stab at veganism. I’ve got a lot of reasons for doing this, from concern for animals to my own health to my subversive side wanting to be as annoying as possible to the irritatingly smug anti-vegans on Tumblr. Ultimately though, it’s something I’ve wanted to try for a long time, but have had entirely too many excuses about cheese and protein to ever actually follow through.

A plateful of kale chips.
Kale chips are basically the best anyway.

So February 1 (tomorrow!), out go the animal products. I admit, even though I’ve been a vegetarian for nine of the last fourteen years, I’m a bit nervous for a few reasons:

1. Cheese. I’ve mentioned it twice already, and I’ve only written about a hundred words. So clearly it’s been a big part of my life until now.

2. Breakfast. I do eat a fair number of eggs, and I like butter on my toast. I try to get as much protein as possible to hold me, since I often have to go from 6:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. before I get to eat again.

3. Sneaky ingredients. Outside of the obvious things, I’m not completely sure what I’m looking for on labels.

4. Take-out. There’s one vegan place that delivers to my apartment, but if I don’t figure out the rest of my options, Asian fusion is going to get really old fast.

Four strips of soy bacon
Mmm…Black Flag logo made of soy bacon.

I already know of the solutions to some of these. I’ve made pizzas with Daiya in the past, so I know that’s a decent cheese substitute, and I do love some soy bacon (even if it does, apparently, spark controversy on my Facebook wall). But I’m always open to suggestions on the food front, as long as the suggestion isn’t some stupid “joke” telling me to eat a steak.

There is one more concern: keeping my brain in check. As a recovered dieter, I don’t want to slip back into some kind of disordered mentality favoring restriction and control. This isn’t a diet, at least not in the sense that it’s supposed to make me lose any weight. Yes, some people do lose a few pounds when they make the switch, but many stay the same and others gain a few, so who knows how my body will react. That’s not what it’s about.

Pile of cookbooks - Supermarket Vegan, Vegan with a Vengeance, and Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.
It’s especially important to have cupcake recipes on hand.

I’m sure I will be constantly on the lookout for new recipes, tips, and body-positive resources. Someone please tell me what ingredients I might not realize are animal-based (yes, I know about red dye and gelatine) and whether or not “vegan butter substitute” just means I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, or if I have to shell out $11 an ounce for something special at the fancy hippie store near me.

I know there are a lot of vegan Persephone readers out there, so I’m wondering what the toughest part of making the switch was for you, and how you overcame it. Anything to keep me from weeping into a bowl of quinoa as I stare longingly at a slice of cheesy pizza.

By [E] Liza

PhD student. Knitter. Brooklynite. Long-distance dog mom. Reluctant cat lady. Majestic unicorn whose hair changes color with the wind.

15 replies on “My Little Experiment: Going Vegan for a Month”

Great idea to try this out for a month! I was vegan for about 2 years, but other issues made me stop it for a while. I noticed that my (recently diagnosed) autism makes it difficult for me to not immediately go orthorectic. So, need to find balance first.
The biggest problems I had with eating vegan was actually just other people’s reactions, and quick-and-easy-when-already-in-bad-mood.

I linked to your article on twitter, and Isa Chandra (author of books in the picture) gave these tips:
“re: sneaky ingredients- don’t worry about it for a few months. It’ll be easier when you’ve got a handle on everything else. I’m just one guy talking, but it really is a process. So much more important that you find the foods that satisfy you at first. And lastly! re: cheese. Find fatty yummy umami things that satisfy you. Cashews creams w/miso, avocado, nutritional yeast.”

I agree on the sneaky ingredients. Be careful you don’t focus on those too much (as I did). Take this time to think about what it is that YOU want to cut out of your diet, what things you find important (instead of trying to be ‘vegan’). Is veg*n more or less important to you than organic, local, etc?

Do you have those books in the picture? Cause you should be fine, then :) VCTOTW!

Also, check out That is a brilliant community with great advice, and a good tag system.

Good luck and have fun trying new foods!

I love soy bacon. I don’t do pork at all (Jewish) but I like the soy bacon, and veg burgers. Love those…

Re: vegan cheese. It rarely melts the same, so there may be some recipes that you’ll need to tinker with.

I’m neither veg nor vegan, but I love both types of food. Deliciousness. I second the veganomicon, as some of the best and most faithfully vegan cooks I know swear by it.

I do know people who can’t do vegan for medical reasons. I hope this isn’t the case, but do watch your health. Depending on where you are you can even find vegan friendly health practitioners who you can ask questions of if xyz reaction is normal. I have additional health issues so any sort of difference in certain domains can be a big deal, but I don’t know your health status.

Enjoy the next month, and good for you for trying the experiment!

When my now husband and I started dating, he was vegan. Consequently, I was semi-vegan, by which I mean that the meals we ate together (lunch and dinner) were vegan, but I still occasionally ate eggs or dairy for my own breakfast. We found the PETA cookbook “The Compassionate Cook” very helpful – tasty, vegan recipes of “traditional” favorites like mac-n-cheese or lasagne. I’m not really a fan of PETA, but this cookbook is good.

Now, I’m going to be one of *those* commentors… While I was eating this not-even-fully-vegan diet, I developed vitamin B12 deficiency. So, I would like to advise that you know what the symptoms of B12 anemia are, and head to your doctor if you develop them. This is NOT terribly likely, mind you. Most people who eat a vegan diet can absorb B12 just fine; I just happen to be one of the lucky people who have trouble absorbing it. And if we were going to return to a vegan diet, I would have to be very conscientious about getting enough B12.

I admire you for trying to go vegan. I have given up cheese and most dairy, but that’s because of skin related problems (and it’s a shame because, like you, I love cheese). I still eat meat, but I’m trying to eat a majority veggie diet. Living in Asia doesn’t make it easy to be a vegetarian (unless you’re in India) and being vegan seems almost impossible in some places.

Good for you for trying something new! I tried veggie-dom for a month last year, and since then I’ve eaten less meat but if I’m anything I’m flexitarian :)

I did find this article thought-provoking recently – because one of the issues I would have with veganism personally (apart from the cheese! Mmm cheese) is the environmental and social impact of the food I would have to eat to keep myself healthy. If the soya products are imported from half the world away (with the fossil fuel use that implies) and the Western popularity of quinoa means people in Peru can’t afford it anymore, then it’s more complex ethically than just ‘no animals were harmed in the making of my diet’.

I haven’t done the sums on this – and I would love to see them if anyone has – but I suppose my conclusion is the ethics of consumption are complicated, yo.

There was just an article published on Slate or maybe Salon (I’ll try and find it when I’m not on my phone) that demonstrated how quinoa Is not actually harming the people in Bolivia. It was a massive oversimplification written for page views, basically.

Good for you — I keep thinking about going the full length, but I can’t give up moist baked goods or cheese. Here’s the sneaky thing I know to watch out for — CONFECTIONER’S GLAZE. It is made with insects and is used solely to make baked goods shiny.

This sounds like really interesting experiment. It’s not something I’ve tried to do for a whole month, but when cooking/baking, I’ve often posed myself the “challenge” of doing something vegan.

As for suggestions, risotto is a meal we often make vegan and there are some fantastic vegan stews out there, our favourite is a butternut squash and bean one. Also, for baking: bananas can be used instead of eggs. It’s been a while since I’ve made a banana-instead-of-egg cake, but they are delicious and since I usually bake with vegan spread … well, vegan cake can be awesome. Also: don’t forget that cocoa is vegan. So cocoa + soya milk = super delicious hot chocolate. So going vegan doesn’t mean giving up chocolate yumminess!

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