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Going Vegan Diary: Week One | 30 Day Vegan Challenge

Last week I announced that I would be taking a “30 Day Vegan Challenge” and as week one of any food-related challenge is always the toughest whilst you fight old habits and try to establish a new lifestyle, I decided to write an honest account of how I’ve really gotten on being vegan.

Here is my first week’s diary on my, “30 Day Vegan Challenge” (with appropriate emoticons to describe each day of course ?).

Day 1: Sunday ?

Day one! I woke up this morning excited for what the next 30 days would bring. Would I crave cheese and chocolate biscuits like mad? Would I feel better? Would I actually feel no different? Could I make it a whole 30 days without dairy? I was ready to find out!

I started the day by making Niomi Smart’s coconut pancakes from her plant-based diet book, ‘Eat Smart’. I have made these before as a healthy alternative to normal pancakes, except this morning I managed to burn most of them! Scrapping the last of the mix into the frying pan, I thought to myself, “this is so typical, the first day of this vegan challenge, when I want to vlog my first day and end up burning the first meal!”.

Despite not getting off to the greatest start, the rest of the day was seamless as I filmed my first vegan video on why I’m going vegan and began the editing process. After a busy day sorting out new content for the blog in preparation for the challenge, I barely had time to think about food and before I knew it, it was dinner time.

For dinner I decided to go for one of the healthiest meals I knew how to cook which was a vegetable stir fry. This is a dish that has been a ‘go-to’ meal in our house when we decide we’re going to be healthy (and not order pizza which is what we really want to do!). I put all our favourite veggies into a peanut satay sauce, including: snap peas, baby corn and yellow peppers and even added spinach to make us feel extra good.

After dinner, Mr Footsteps and I had a wedding party in the evening to attend but seeing as I had made us a healthy and filling dinner, I was confident I wouldn’t want any of the buffet or sweet treats that are usually on offer at these do’s. After congratulating the bride and groom on their nuptials, a couple of glasses of bubbly and some (questionable) dancing we called it a night seeing as we were both in work the next day. Also let it be noted that this was the first time I had ever turned down cake at a wedding, go me!

First day of veganism: a resounding success.

Day 2: Monday ?

I figured today would be a little more difficult after an early wake-up call for work (as most people usually find on a Monday morning) and indeed today I felt pretty tired. Before going vegan I would eat and drink anything that would give me energy through the day, including: mid-afternoon chocolate, coffee and diet fizzy drinks. After adopting a ‘clean’ eating approach to my 30 day vegan challenge I thought that eating fruits and veggies just wouldn’t cut it today.

On this front I was wrong. Despite feeling tired, eating fruit and veggies as snacks (such as apples and carrot sticks) kept me full and feeling lively but I felt a rumbling headache start to take hold before lunchtime that I just couldn’t shake.

By the end of the day, all I wanted to do was go to bed and sleep off the headache and hopefully feel better tomorrow. Despite feeling groggy when I got home, I made sausage and mash with vegan sausages (and normal sausages for Mr Footsteps), sweet potato mash and peas and sweet corn for dinner. I couldn’t face vlogging and went to bed super early at 9pm.

Day 3: Tuesday ?

Today, much to my surprise (and dismay!), the headache still lingered. I was furiously drinking water to try and shift it but gave in and took some paracetamol by the afternoon. Despite feeling crappy when I got up, I started the day with a bowl of muesli and dried cranberries, which were ironically bought to be used for a cake bar I had planned to make before the challenge, but now were a nice edition to my healthy vegan breakfast.

I powered through the morning, snacking on fruit and had vegetable soup with a brown roll for lunch and a couple of cubes of 70% cocoa chocolate to keep me sane. I spoke to my friend Ray today who is mostly vegan but is taking the 30 day vegan challenge as well to support me, to ask about this headache I couldn’t shift.

He reminded me of how much sugar and fizzy drinks I was having prior to this experiment and said that by going cold turkey I was having withdrawal symptoms but I had to power through to feel the benefits. After feeling a fog over my head the last two days, I wasn’t in the mood for a spoonful of cold-hard truth but I knew he was right and only wanted me to feel good.

I had another early night and hoped that the fog was going to lift in the next day or so.

Day 4: Wednesday ?

Today, I was feeling a little better and decided to make a banana smoothie with some almond milk for breakfast and even made some green juice for later in the day which incorporated half a cucumber, a stick of celery, a handful of spinach, two green apples, lemon and a bit of ginger.

I had red pepper and butternut squash soup with a brown roll for lunch and enjoyed a little energy kick in the afternoon from my green juice in place of my usual chocolate bar and diet coke.

For dinner, Mr Footsteps made me a chickpea curry with rice and it was really yummy. So glad I’m starting to feel better!

Day 5: Thursday ?

Today I felt way better and was awake bright and early at 6.30am to do some vlogging and film a little morning routine before I went to work. I made a banana and strawberry smoothie with soya milk, a dash of vanilla extract and a handful of frozen mango and pineapple. I then made a beetroot, carrot, apple, lemon and ginger juice for me to take to work for later on.

For lunch, I went to the local cafe near our office and had red pepper and butternut squash soup with a brown roll for lunch and enjoyed the sweet beetroot juice I’d made in the morning as an afternoon snack.

I can’t believe the difference a few days make. I have got so much more energy then I expected to on this challenge and find myself making small healthier changes to my lifestyle (juicing fruits and greens being one of them) without feeling I have to, I actually want to!

I got home late this evening because I went to get my hair cut after work so I didn’t end up getting home until around 8pm. Because it was so late I opted for a quickie dinner of muesli with a chopped up banana, dried cranberries and almond milk. I still had energy to burn at the end of the day so finished editing my, why I’m going vegan video, which will go live tomorrow!

Feeling fab and had a super productive day.

Day 6: Friday ?

Happy fri-yay! I made it a whole working week being vegan and I’m feeling fantastic. I’m now looking forward to a relaxing weekend at home, but not before we celebrate our work mate’s 30th birthday!

Everyone was heading down to the local Wetherspoons pub for a couple of drinks to celebrate and at first I was apprehensive because I thought if I had a couple of glasses of wine it would make me want to break and I might give in and order a pizza or something! But I checked the website before we left and there were things on the menu I could eat (yay!) and after a quick google search found out that prosecco was definitely vegan (thank god! ?).

I checked with the bar staff to make sure the particular curry I had picked out was definitely vegan and in response he passed me a vegetarian and vegan dedicated menu, I was floored. I couldn’t believe that somewhere like wetherspoons (which isn’t primarily somewhere you get something to eat, especially if you have dietary requirements) had an entire menu of dishes for me to choose from. It was amazing and a huge relief. 

And you know what? The chickpea and sweet potato curry with pilau rice was so so tasty. Also pleased to discover that poppadoms and mango chutney are also vegan, awesome! The only snag was, there was no vegan dessert I could have but it was a small price to pay (and probably for the best!).

Day 7: Saturday ?

Woke up this morning feeling a teeny tiny bit fragile and couldn’t face a smoothie or juice so I had a simple bowl of cereal with a banana and headed out to do a few errands. The weather has been absolutely glorious here in Manchester today, I didn’t even have to put on my coat on and it always makes you feel like getting ready for the summer doesn’t it?

With a busy morning running errands I ended up missing lunch so I stopped off whilst birthday present shopping to have a mango smoothie from the Fuel Juice Bar and it was so refreshing in the  spring sunshine, let me tell you.

Whilst I was in town I popped into Holland and Barrett (our local health food shop) to pick up a few vegan snacks to see me through the next week. This included a selection of healthy ‘crisps’ replacements like lentil chips and pop chips and some vegan chocolate bars. I also picked up what has helped stave off my fizzy drink cravings (when I occasionally have them) which is innocent juice with sparkling water. They’re just like fizzy drinks but all natural and without all the chemicals and rubbish they usually put into them to make them sweeter.

I found that I enjoyed the chickpea and sweet potato curry with pilau rice from Wetherspoons so much I decided to make my own version for me and Mr Footsteps as our Saturday night ‘take-out’ alternative. And I’m pleased to report he loved it and I’m actually starting to enjoy cooking for the first time in my life!

So there you have it folks, a full report from my first week as a vegan.

I’ve got to say this week has been a real eye opening experience for me. It wasn’t until I started eating cleaner as a result of going vegan (and having fewer food options!) that I realised how much bad food I was eating. I have been drinking up to a litre of diet fizzy drinks for as long as I can remember and in less than one week as a vegan, I’ve managed to kick the habit of a literal lifetime.

My bad food cravings have mostly stopped and now I’m actually starting to crave healthy options like fruit and veggies. I never imagined that I would be one of those people, especially being the fussiest eater in our family growing up and then becoming a vegetarian four years ago.

I’m looking forward to the next few weeks to see where this experiment will take me and how I’m going to feel after a full four weeks on this lifestyle.

For more on my first week as a vegan, check out my first week’s vlog below. You can also follow my progress on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Tell me, have you ever tried a vegan lifestyle? Do you have any tips for leading a healthier life? Please comment below, I’d love to hear from you ?

About the author

Hi! I'm Mel a full-time Marketeer and part-time adventurer. I’m a British travel blogger who loves nothing more than immersing myself in different cultures and exploring new places. My goal is to inspire all of you office dwellers to follow your travel dreams whilst still working your 9-5.

  • Wowza — these meals look really awesome! The Day 1 breakfast particularly has me drooling. The issue for me with Vegan eating, however, is that I just don’t feel full unless I have meat and cheese every few days. I wish you luck, though!

    • Mel

      Thanks so much Lillie :) You do need to eat more food being veggie or vegan, that I have noticed but I do enjoy snacking throughout the day though instead of having one big meal so I don’t get too hungry :)

  • Wow! Not just vegan but “clean vegan.” That’s a much bigger challenge. You’re doing great!

    • Mel

      Thanks Donna! :) I’m trying haha! It definitely seems to be working for me. My energy is up and my skin has started to clear up too which I didn’t expect!

  • Good job! I’m a vegetarian but don’t think I could pull off Vegan. I just love cheese and eggs too much. I sometimes do only raw fruits and veggies cleanses with coconut water and I always feel lighter and more energetic, too. Btw, that sweet potato curry looks amazing and not I predict there will be Indian food in my near future. ;) Good luck with the next week!

    • Mel

      I felt like that going vegan from being vegetarian but I wanted to challenge myself and try eat better and I didn’t think it would make such a difference but I’m actually really enjoying it! I love coconut water! It’s so refreshing and tasty isn’t it? I only wish I had the beach to go with it ;) Curries are so versatile and I find that whatever veggies I have left over at the end of the shop week, I can make into pretty much any curry, which stops us wasting food which is a bonus…more money for travel haha!

  • Kelly

    Congratulations on week one. Vegan food can be super tasty and nourishing – so much so that you don’t even miss meat. I do still eat meat, but can be pretty happy with vegan meals a lot of the time. Good luck!

    • Mel

      Thanks Kelly! When I tried going vegan I was surprised at how many things I already ate and didn’t know were vegan. My boyfriend is exactly the same as you, he likes a bit of meat with a meal but he is happy to eat vegan if I’m cooking which is a relief! Some nights I can’t be bothered to cook if I’ve been working late so I’ll have something really simple and just say to him to have a meaty meal without me :)

  • Congratulations on the first week. I find that the first few days of a clean eating are often the most difficult. Keep it up – the food looks delicious!

    • Mel

      Thank you so much :) You definitely feel the difference, although I would have hated to say so before starting this challenge haha! I’m finding the food delicious and I’m experimenting more in the kitchen which can only be a good thing.

  • I think I will try to cut down on meat but I don’t think I can give it up completely…I like it to much. I like the idea of juicing and those desserts look delicious…How do you find vegan meals when travelling abroad?

    • Mel

      Juice is a great way to get your fruits and veggies in everyday no matter what diet you are on because you literally drink one glass and you have your quota for the day. It also makes you feel great, I would definitely recommend it. I’ve not crossed the vegan abroad hurdle yet, just a couple of domestic trips and the theme park I went to had nothing for me so I had to bring a packed lunch! I’ve spoken to a lot of vegan travel bloggers and it really depends on the country you’re in. Europe seems to be a bit more difficult whereas more asian countries seem to be better places to be vegan I’ve been told. I’ll have to try it and let you know! :)

  • Ben

    Congrats on your first week, as you said it always the hardest! Now that you got that out of the way you will easily breeze through the next three weeks! Love seeing people making a concisous shift to eat healthier!

    • Mel

      Thanks Ben! The detox was definitely a little rough but that’s the price I paid for eating so much junk food before haha! I’m starting to find it a lot easier now and I’m reaching for healthier options by default which is great when you think it’s only been a couple of weeks. Apparently it takes 21 days to make a habit so we’ll see!

  • Tamara Wilcox

    Congrats on turning down the wedding cake! I have the same struggles trying to keep sugar out of my diet. Believe me! It’s easier to turn down wedding cake than the birthday cupcake your granddaughter is trying to feed to you!

    • Mel

      Thanks Tamara, I know, turning down wedding cake at a wedding, I almost felt rude! Aw bless your granddaughter, she just wants to make you happy because a bit of cake makes everyone happy :D Maybe share the guilt and say you want to halve it with her? ;)

  • I went vegan for three weeks back in January and the first week was the toughest! I was so dizzy the whole time! Congrats on making it through your first week and excited to see where you’ll be after a month’s time!

    • Mel

      Oh wow! Kudos on making it through, feeling dizzy is the worst but you stuck at it which is fantastic! Thanks for the support Izzy, I’m looking forward to see where the next few weeks take me too :)

  • This is one tough challenge, and I admire you for your discipline and commitment to what you have started! Keep going, Melissa! Xx

    • Mel

      Thanks Trisha! Luckily I was half way there being vegetarian already but I loved dairy a lot so having to skip cheese on some of my favourite meals has been tough but I’m starting to look into alternatives now and I find that the further I go into this the less I miss it which is good. Thanks so much for your support :) xx