Guest Author - Gretchen Goel
About the Challenge
Commit to eating 100% animal free for 3 whole weeks. If you have a family, this is much easier to do if the whole family commits to the challenge. Remember, this is ONLY 3 WEEKS, not a lifetime!
After 3 weeks you may decide to continue eating a Vegan diet, or you can choose to slowly introduce small portions of animal foods back into your diet and notice how foods taste differently. You may notice that some of the foods you once enjoyed may not be so appetizing. If you chose to go back to eating animal foods, it’s okay! The idea is to notice how your body feels eating 100% animal free. I am betting you will feel more energized and healthier!
Mentally prepare yourself for the challenge. Start thinking about the obstacles that may keep you from being successful and find solutions now. Write down those obstacles and come up with solutions. For instance, if you are in the habit of going out to dinner every week and normally have chicken, seafood or steak. Call ahead to the restaurant to find out if they have vegetarian options and decide ahead of time what you are going to eat.
Also decide why you want to do this. Why is this challenge important to you and your family? Are you wanting to improve your health? Have more energy? Get more servings of fruits and vegetables in your diet and your children’s diets. Find that internal motivator and write it down! Put it on the refrigerator or somewhere you will see it daily and read it every day.
Sit down with your family and ask for their full participation and support. If you have older kids, let them look at the websites I have listed below to pick out recipes. Younger kids can help with shopping and food preparation. Get everyone excited about the challenge and think of a reward for meeting the goal.
Plan all meals for the entire week. Block off one hour of time to plan your meals for next week. You will want to go to the following websites for recipe ideas:
-Fatfreevegan.com (this is hands down the best website for healthy vegan meals)
-cancerproject.org (this one has limited recipes, but they are low fat/low sodium which is what you should ideally be cooking)
-vegweb.com (tons of recipes but be careful with sodium and fat in some of these recipes)
Plan for healthy snacks in between meals. The biggest complaint that people have when first embarking on an animal free diet is that they “feel hungry” all the time. So plan for eating some healthy in between meal “mini meals”. Here are some ideas. I recommend that you try reduce or eliminate granola bars, dry cereals, crackers and other processed foods, even if they are organic.
-Hummus and any favorite raw veggies (The hummus can be store bought, but it is less expensive and tastier if you make it at home!)
-Cinnamon Raisin sprouted wheat bread lightly toasted with Agave nectar (no oil or nut butters!)
-Whole pieces of fruit
-Green Smoothies (only if you have a Magic Bullet, Vitamix or Blendtec Blender)
Go shopping! Realize that you may not find everything you need at a mainstream grocery store. Find a health food store near you, like a Whole Foods, Chamberlains, or Green Wise.
Take a look at my Healthy Pantry & Kitchen Shopping List for more ideas on substitutes or transition foods like veggie burgers, vegan butter, soy yogurts and cheeses. You may want to consider buying some convenience items like frozen vegan pizzas or pastas. Amy’s Organic and Kashi both make Vegan pizzas and microwaveable meals. Realize that these are not optimally healthy food items but it is okay to have these on the days you know you will not have time to prepare food due to work schedules or late evening activities with the kids.
If you are on a budget and cannot afford convenience foods, it is time to break out the crock pot! Crock pots are so handy and you will find it is quick and easy to throw together some healthy vegetables and/or beans in the morning and have a hot meal waiting for you when you come home from a busy day.
Good Luck with the challenge! Check out the Holistic Health forum for continuous support on this challenge.