Health: 22-day vegan challenge

After bingeing on beefburgers and bratwurst during a Berlin mini-break, Emily Bridgewater tried the 22-day vegan challenge.

Health: 22-day vegan challenge

Veg fest – getting your five-a-day is easy when you go vegan

Here’s how she got on...

After an over-indulgent weekend eating lots of what I fancied including plenty of meat, I made the decision to get healthy. When it came to how to do it, I wanted a new challenge. So, for three weeks I was to give up meat, fish, dairy and eggs. Madness, you cry! This is what happened.

Pre-diet

I have a healthy and varied diet with plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables, lean meat and fish. 

I avoid processed foods but I over-indulge in dairy and crave cheesy pizzas, milky coffees and creamy salad dressings. 

I am not overweight but I do carry a few extra pounds around my middle, which I’d like to blitz before bikini time. 

So when I read that Beyonce and Jay-Z taking on the vegan challenge and dropping 70 pounds between them, I decided to give it a shot. 

If it’s good enough for the Carters, it’s good enough for me. 

Here goes. . . 

See also: Tried & Tested: Vicky's 7 day slim 

Day one

The first day’s over and it has been easier than I expected. I’ve still managed to have porridge for breakfast but have substituted cow’s milk for soya. It tastes a bit different but not unpleasant. 

Preparation is key and I spend the evening making batches of bean chilli and vegetable stews. It’s a good opportunity to learn some new recipes, I guess.  

Day three

It’s off to Holland & Barrett, where I stock up on nut-roasts, nuts and seeds as well as staples such as soya milk and yogurt. 

I avoid the meat substitute items. I’d rather stick with natural goods, besides they look revolting. Tofurkey? No thanks.

Day five

I am down in London for the day and I grab breakfast-to-go for the train journey. Eating out is proving a bit of a struggle. A lot of packaged foods say they are suitable for vegetarians, but few are truly vegan-friendly. 

I make the best of it and opt for a cinnamon roll, some fresh fruit and a soya cappuccino, which is delicious! I could get addicted. Lunch is a better as my friend and I head to the Whole Foods Market which boasts a salad bar to die for. Hummus, vegan falafels and chickpea salad are all fantastic. Who needs meat?

Day eight

Today, I am feeling fantastic. My tummy feels flatter and, when I went for a run, I felt full of energy. People have commented that my skin looks clearer and smoother. Maybe I could stick with this!

Day 12

Feeling weak today. I’m concerned it’s down to a lack of protein despite going literally nuts for nuts. However, I read up on vegan diets and many health experts suggest taking a B12 supplement to combat anaemia. So I go back to the chemist and stock up.

Day 17

After a few days of feeling lethargic and weak, I am back to normal. The B12 supplements seem to be helping and I’ve introduced some soya protein to my diet for an extra boost. Believe it or not, it’s not vegan-certified but I don’t feel too bad about it and tuck in.

Day 22

Can’t believe I have done it. I feel so good I want to continue.  

See also: Fitness trends for 2014

Post-diet

Well, I haven’t lost 70 pounds, or even 35. But my clothes feel looser and the texture of my skin has improved. I’ve also felt less bloated. 

I haven’t missed meat or fish, although my craving for a cheesy pizza blow-out has really  gone through the roof and I admit I have succumbed but only once. 

I found eating out tricky as very few places cater for vegans and, when I did find something suitable, it was bland and dull. 

However, I’ve really spiced up my home-cooking and even my meat-loving boyfriend has enjoyed my vegan creations.

Typical day’s diet

Breakfast: Porridge made with soya milk and a banana

Lunch: Slices of nut roast with hummus and salad or falafels in wraps with harissa dressing

Dinner: Moroccan root vegetable stew served with couscous and mango chutney

Snacks: 85 per cent cocoa chocolate, soya yogurt, nuts, rice cakes, and lots of fruit and vegetables

What the expert says. . .

Holistic nutrition therapist Elizabeth Montgomery says: “Veganism is gaining popularity. Many sceptics believe veganism is a fad diet eventually leading to nutrient deficiencies. However, scientific evidence suggests veganism is the diet that leads to optimal human health.”

Pros
  •  Vegans are less prone to illnesses including: heart disease, colon cancer, diabetes and gout. It also helps lower cholestrol levels.
  • Vegans tend to maintain a health weight.
  • Healthy veganism supports the body with a full range of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and antioxidants.
  • Veganism is cheaper than consuming meat and dairy.
  •  The human body is primarily alkaline and requires an alkaline plant-based diet for healthy blood and body PH.
  • Vegans get protein from green vegetables, nuts and seeds. There are also protein powders from hemp, pea and rice.
Cons
  • Many vegans (and meat eaters) show deficiancy in Vitamin B12.
  • A vegan diet can be tricky when socialising or dining in restaurants. l It requires knowledge to eat a healthy vegan diet. Do your research.

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