One of my fellow WIMH writers went vegan and felt motivated, energetic and all-around fantastic. Since I know “Chef” Orky personally — meta alert: we were next-door neighbors for two years — I’ve heard a lot about her plant-based eating challenge. And it got me curious.
I think my energy levels are fine, but I do struggle with being an impulsive eater. My willpower comes in waves and I’m definitely guilty of giving into myself like the indulgent parent who just wants their kid to shut up already. I’ve gotten better about it, but I’ve also been guilty of this toxic train of thought: “I already ate X so today’s a wash. I guess I’ll try to be a great eater, starting tomorrow. Since today is already lost, may as well get Y and Z…”
You know who can’t be an impulsive eater? Vegans.
Being a vegan can be a lot of work. Since a plant-based diet is somewhat restrictive, you generally have to eat strategically, which means you can’t necessarily indulge in whatever, whenever. I’m an impulsive person whose relationship with food is complicated. I also happen to be motivated by challenges and games…
You see where this is going.
My vegan challenge is basically an exercise in self-control.
Nobody really gets it. “That sounds… so unnecessarily complicated. Why don’t you just work on being more disciplined?” If only it were that easy. It makes me think of 2009 when I worked in a shoe stockroom and one of my FAQ was, “Why don’t you get a job at a magazine?” I hadn’t thought of that. Thanks!
According to research from University College London, it takes 66 days to form a habit, but I’m hoping that 30 is all I need. By February 20, I will have a whole month’s practice in telling myself, “No. Not right now.” Since discipline is like a muscle, I hope that by February 21, I’m better at delayed gratification. “Yes, I would like pizza now, but I will hold off until tomorrow so I can balance it out with a lighter lunch.”
The timing couldn’t be more perfect. I just started a new job at a tech start-up, which generally spoil their employees with kitchens stocked with snacks. I can’t eat most of them during this vegan challenge— did you know Goldfish actually contain milk?— but by the time I can, I’m hoping to be less tempted.
For real, I would like pizza now, though.
I’m motivated by challenges and games… and also positive reinforcement. Like anyone else who struggles with what they eat, I like instant gratification. And while that’s not a term you often equate with weight loss, there are other, more immediate benefits of veganism. For one thing, my skin is amazing, quite possibly because I’m no longer eating any of the hormones in animal products. That’s really the only thing I noticed “instantly” (besides, TMI, the gas) but seeing one change right away is enough to placate my impatience.
Here are my other takeaways from following a vegan eating plan for the last 10 days:
- The easiest way in is to simply buy vegan versions of whatever you’d normally buy at the grocery store.
- Tofu is super bland because it’s a blank canvas. That also means it can take a lot of marinades and seasonings really well.
- There’s so much going on in a Chipotle burrito bowl that you don’t even notice the cheese missing.
- Speaking of vegan “cheese,” it’s not good to me. Sorry. I think it looks and tastes like wood chips— unless I just bought the wrong kind? If you know a brand that makes vegan cheese that isn’t an abomination, please email me.
- Getting enough protein is tricky. I bought some plant-based protein powder and find myself mixing scoops into glasses of water at night. It’s gross to me.
So far, the greatest benefit is that I’m eating healthier things, almost by default. No pizza, no bacon egg and cheeses on a bagel, no chocolate hearts filled with peanut butter. No poke bowls or sushi, either, which is going to save me a ton of money. I admit I kind of thought otherwise, but in general, eating vegan isn’t bad.
Joining "Chef" Orky's Plant-Based Eating Challenge Facebook group, and share your comments at the bottom of the page.
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