Vegan January Recap

My boyfriend, Monish, and I decided to try out veganism for an entire month because – 1. To see how our bodies felt/reacted to eating completely plant based for an entire month and 2. To see if it’s something that we could do long term. On our first ever date in 2020, we had a discussion about the Netflix documentary Game Changers and realized that we both were interested in moving towards a complete plant-based lifestyle. We chose January 2021 as our experimental month because it was the start of a new year. New year new me, right?!

Before I begin going over how the month went, I will say that having an accountability buddy – especially one that lives in the same apartment as me – made this so much easier. We both were successful in staying meat and dairy free for the entire month – something that I’m extremely proud of!

Day 1: A literal shit show… We did not prepare or plan as well as we thought we had – we ended up throwing random things together for meals that day. I consumed a pre-packaged salad from HEB along with a protein shake, a few bananas, chickpea Cheetos called Hippeas and a vegan doughnut from Voodoo Doughnuts among other various things.

Day 3: I had the WORST stomach pains that I’d felt in months (I typically eat pretty healthy and clean nowadays) along with some constipation (sorry not sorry if that’s TMI) which I found to be super odd. Then the pains started to feel cramp-like, so obviously the first thing I did was check my period tracker app…but NOPE – that wasn’t it! After a little Googling, we settled on the idea that because I was now eating mainly fruits and veggies for all of my meals, the increased quantity of high-fiber caused the cramping and constipation. Apparently you’re supposed to gradually enter into a high-fiber diet… Whoops! Click here to check out 22 High-Fiber Foods You Should Be Eating and click here to see what happens when you eat too much fiber too quickly..

Day 5: I noticed that my workouts felt easier. I didn’t feel the need to slow down at ALL and realized that my chest wasn’t feeling tight after running like it apparently always had been feeling in the past. You sometimes don’t realize that you had a problem until it’s been resolved…and that’s exactly the revelation I had during my workout on this morning.

Day 8: We tried vegan queso made from cashews along with a vegan southwest salad (Monish ate that) while I enjoyed a vegan “meatball” pesto sub sandwich. All of these were ordered from Local Foods. Holy shit – these items were incredible! The queso was delicious and was much lighter on the stomach/less greasy than real-cheese queso. My “meatballs” were made from mushrooms and other veggies and my god it tasted amazing!

Day 10: We grocery shopped and meal prepped enough meals/snacks to last us a full 4 days. The meals took quite a bit longer to make than usual because we chose more creative, time-consuming meals in order to beat the boredom with our food choices. The BBQ Lentil “Meatballs” were a HUGE success although I learned two important things – 1. bake them because using the stove top was a disaster and 2. store them without covering them in sauce, otherwise they will become soggy. It’s best to leave the extra sauce-coating until you’re ready to eat consume. Click here to check out the recipe.

Day 12: Monish’s birthday was on this day and we celebrated with a vegan cake. I told him prior to his day that we could get something non-vegan if he really wanted it but he said “no, we’re in this, let’s do it to the full capacity!” So I did some research and ordered a cake from Crumbville here in Houston, TX. It was both of our first time trying a vegan sweet treat and we noticed no difference in flavor. The texture was a little bit thicker than cakes made with dairy but it was still moist and delicious.

Day 14: I had temptations come at me while at work (queso and cupcakes that were made with dairy/eggs) and I did NOT cave! It was an incredible accomplishment and I’m super proud of myself for not giving in. Monish had also not slipped up by this point and continued to be a wonderful, supportive accountability buddy throughout the duration of the month.

Day 18: Meal prep came into play once again, this time we tried a new recipe: Chickpea Meatballs in a roasted red pepper sauce. We added in some lentil penne pasta for added protein and holy moly, talk about delicious! I ate it for dinner that night (I couldn’t wait to try it) with some toast and went to bed feeling completely satisfied for the first time all month – not too full but no longer hungry. After enjoying this meal, I realized that I had been struggling with consuming enough calories due to this dietary change so feeling full was an amazing experience!

Day 23: We felt like having pizza so we ordered a pizza from Pepperoni’s since they offer dairy-free cheese as an option. We kept it simple with tomato sauce, vegan cheese, spinach, mushrooms and tomatoes. While it did taste slightly different than regular pizza, the main difference was the lack of grease – something that I was NOT mad about. 😉

Pepperoni’s Pizza with Vegan Cheese

Day 27: We made Buffalo Chickpea Quesadillas and tried our hand at making our own cashew queso as it was part of this recipe. It was surprisingly really easy to make and is a great option for meal prep as you can store the chickpea filling, queso and tortillas separate until ready to eat. Quick heat-up on the store and voila – dinner is served!

Homemade Buffalo Chickpea Quesadillas

In conclusion, we both agreed that we felt so much better without eating meat or dairy products for the duration of the month. I definitely felt more energetic – which was shocking to myself and others considering how high-energy I already am. Monish also mentioned that he felt less sluggish during this time.

As a couple, we’ve decided to permanently stop cooking meat in the house and to only eat meat out in restaurants on occasion – meaning that we’ve pretty much taken on a vegetarian lifestyle full-time. We’re planning to do Vegan January every year as a way to cleanse our bodies while also giving us a full month annually that’s devoted to learning more about veganism so that we may slowly move towards a full-time vegan lifestyle.

On February 1st, we helped ourselves to some cheese and chocolate at The Melting Pot to celebrate our one-year anniversary that occurred on January 31st, 2021. The vegetarian entree plate was absolutely delicious for those wondering! Check out more photos here.

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