Veganuary is a non-profit organization that encourages people and businesses to participate in a New Years’ Resolution to eat entirely plant-based for the month of January and beyond. Their website includes eating guides, tips, and recipes for those who are interested in tackling this change in diet.
I determined that I was interested in participating in Veganuary back in November 2021, when I was seriously contemplating making a permanent switch to veganism. As a vegetarian, I would eat meat, eggs, and dairy products, and fish, when my friends and I would out to sushi—which I know, would technically make me a pescatarian but I’m not sure less than once a month of tuna roll counts—but I avoided dairy milk like the plague and the texture of eggs always made them difficult for me to stomach.
I figured if my diet was already 90% plant-based, spending a month without cheese, the occasional egg, and taking a month off sushi would be easy. What I didn’t anticipate was the cost of everything.
Suddenly in order to bake a loaf of banana bread, I needed to buy egg replacement ($7) and vegan chocolate chips ($6). I could no longer eat the popcorn that my roommate would make for movie night and when I went to eat at a restaurant I was triple checking everything on the menu and I would still end up eating exclusively french fries.
I think the most difficult animal product that I had to live without was cheese—I never realized how much I ate cheese until I couldn’t anymore. I couldn’t put mozzarella in my pasta sauce or go to the pizza vending machine my campus just got or make the cheese roll-ups that I would snack on at all hours of the day and night.
The cost of eating vegan for a month completely drained my wallet and finding places to eat was more difficult than I would have imagined. That being said, I was only two weeks into the month when I started feeling better than I have in a while. The constant stomach aches I would get before become infrequent at best and I no longer felt as lethargic going through my day as I did when I ate animal products. Personally, I attribute these changes to specifically my lack of dairy and all of the vegetables I was suddenly eating.
Even though the month hasn’t ended yet, I know that I won’t be keeping a strictly-vegan diet moving forward. When I first started Veganuary, I thought that I might like being vegan so much that I would stay vegan forever, but I think that the difficulties finding food and the costs associated with the diet are too much for me to handle now as a college student who doesn’t have a ton of money.
Despite not permanently altering my diet, there are a few products I tried that I think are too good to give up: Country Crock’s vegan butter, Ben & Jerry’s Non-dairy options and Forager’s Cashewmilk yogurt.
I’m not disappointed in myself for not staying vegan, I’m proud of the changes I made and that I was able to spend 31 days with a new diet and I’m excited to be able to make more permanent changes in my diet that fits my lifestyle and still benefits the environment.