Vegan For 30 Days: An Interview
Dane, one of our Wellistic team members, began following a plant-based diet in November and completed his first 30 days of veganism in early December. We sat down with Dane at his 30 day mark to learn more about his motivation, challenges, and future plans surrounding the vegan diet.
What made you want to try veganism?
D: I watched The Game Changer and [James Wilks] had gone through an injury and was trying to find different ways that his body could heal. He was going through all these different studies on how he could push his recovery and saw veganism. He tried it out and started studying professional athletes that had gone from meat eating and other diets to a specific vegan diet, so I wanted to check it out and see how it would work with my body. I wanted to do it mainly based off of how my brain would respond to it, so is it more clear? How my body felt, so did I get more energy? Different things like that.
Was it harder/easier than you expected?
D: It was actually easier than expected because everybody kept saying the hardest thing about veganism is that you need to cook every single meal, which is not always true. You can do a salad, and you can make a meal that’s actually more simple if you make quinoa with some beans or lentils, things like that, so it actually turned out to be a lot easier. On top of that I was nervous about going to restaurants and there’s always a substitute there.
Have you noticed any changes in yourself since going vegan?
D: I have felt less bloated. I don’t feel tired halfway through the day. I lost around 10 pounds over the first month and my skin is the clearest it has been in a while.
Have you faced any challenges or stigma since going vegan?
D: I mean there’s always the battle with… Your family doesn’t even know what to do sometimes. It’s a new way of thinking so they don’t know ‘do we need to announce that he’s a vegan at the restaurant’ when I can simply just order my meal. On top of that, friends look at it because some people say ‘you’re supposed to eat meat.’ It’s just something you just have to brush off. You know what you’re doing, and you know what your life is.
What surprised you most about the vegan diet?
D: I’d say how you don’t feel bloated at all when you eat meals. I had a lot of food today [at lunch] and after the meal, I was not bloated at all. You don’t feel bloated, but there is the process where you are constantly going to the restroom, so that is something that happens a lot because you eat a lot of fiber.
How have you stayed motivated to continue a vegan diet?
D: Just the changes that I’ve felt. More energy, I’ve lost weight, and I’m more clear in the mind. I just thought I’d be able to think more clearly, but the weight loss came as an extra [bonus], and it’s really not that hard. It’s weird because when I first started, I wasn’t really doing it for the animals, which a lot of people do, but the more I do it, I’m like, ‘there’s no animals dying for me to eat this meal.’ I can simply just eat plants and half the time with the plants you really can’t even tell [the difference]. If you make it right and can actually season food, it’s really good.
What is your favorite vegan meal you’ve had?
D: There’s a market near us called Weaver Street and they have this pizza there. They use hummus as the sauce, with artichokes and tomatoes and all these other different things. I really like it. Other than that, what I’ve made at the house… I’ve had some really good meals. It was like a quinoa with a tempeh mix taco bowl.
What non vegan food do you miss the most?
D: Chicken. No one ever tells you about the cravings you go through. It almost feels like nicotine withdrawals from back when I quit smoking. You start thinking about chicken and chicken nuggets… my fiance and I used to go to Zaxby’s and all those quick chicken spots. [The craving] goes by quickly. It’s like a quick 15 minutes and it’s gone, but they’re still there.
Have you had to take any extra steps to make sure you are still getting all the proper nutrients?
D: You do have to take vitamins, like B12, Vitamin D because I also work all day everyday, and get home and it’s dark; iron, if you’re not getting enough out of your kale and stuff like that. I am no person for nutrition, this is just from what I’ve learned online, but yes, I do have to take a multivitamin.
Have you had any problems getting enough protein?
D: No, a lot of the vegan meals actually have a lot of protein in them. Like quinoa has protein. You have your lentils. I eat a lot of beans. I get hummus. If you really need to, you have protein shakes. I feel like it’s something people kind of try to scare you with up front, but it’s not that hard once you start doing it, because you realize, ‘I didn’t realize how much protein was in this.’ People think it’s so easy to get 20 grams of protein from a piece of chicken or 50 from a piece of steak, but then it stacks up whenever your meal is not just comprised of three components. It’s comprised of five things in one dish right here with a side of this, and you’re getting 20 in this little dish right here, just like your chicken and 5 right there so you’re getting your 25 grams [of protein] per meal type thing.
Have you noticed any difference in the cost of eating vegan vs. non-vegan?
D: Whenever you go to a restaurant, yes. It’s about 1.6 [times the cost] is what I would say. So if I go to this burger place and get a Beyond Burger with all the ingredients, the meal is like $16 when normally it would cost me $10 for everything. When I go to the grocery store… it depends how good you are. I always thought veggies were less expensive than meat, because you buy a box of meat for $10 or you can get all these veggies for $10, so I’d say it evens out. I spend a lot on nuts and nuts are expensive. I shop at Trader Joe’s and it’s already low cost as it is, so I’d say it does even out.
Have you had to plan meals ahead more than before?
D: No, we [have] always [planned our meals]… my fiancé and I are big on that, so we have our little board that we write our meals on for the week. I guess you have to prep a little more for lunch… but other than that, no.
How did your vegan diet affect your Thanksgiving holiday… a holiday that is not traditionally the most vegan-friendly?
D: We went over to my fiancé’s family’s house and it was actually great. They were more curious about what I could eat. I prepped all of my meal, because I don’t want to put someone else through the hassle of cooking it. There are recipes for everything. My favorite dish is green bean casserole and we made… my fiancé and I did [a Thanksgiving] by ourselves, and that one was atrocious, but then I made [the green bean casserole] with her family where I used a different recipe and that one was fantastic. I made sure to split the mashed potatoes, so I could use vegan-option butters or almond milk, so that way I don’t have any animal products, and then I did mushrooms. It was completely new for me, but the hardest thing was looking at all the different ham and turkey, and they had fully-loaded buttered mashed potatoes and mac and cheese, and it’s like ugh, but I was good, I stayed good.
Do you plan to continue this plant-based diet?
D: Yes, we’re already talking about my wedding. It’s on August 8th of next year, and we’re already planning to add a vegan meal for myself. It’s all BBQ, and I can’t eat BBQ, so just adding a vegan dish. So yes, I plan on doing it for the long term, because it’s not that hard and I like the energy.
What tips do you have for someone considering a vegan diet?
D: Do research, watch videos, because you don’t want to just try to eat plants and think you’re getting everything [your body needs]. You have to do research. Like I said, I’m not an expert, so it’s about always learning and taking in new information.