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Surviving Veganuary

My Month As A Vegan

By LA Muscle on 08.02.2019 12:30 pm


It’s been a record year for Veganuary as over 250,000 people signed up to participate in going vegan for the month of January. Despite being around since the 1940s, veganism hasn’t really been mainstream until this decade as it has continued to grow in popularity. A lot of that popularity has been down to the public’s increased awareness of the unethical treatment of animals and concern for the impact of our current eating habits on the Earth itself.

We know that as a world population, we are eating too much meat and something needs to be done about it. A study done by supermarket chain Waitrose found that a third of UK consumers have purposefully reduced their consumption of meat or have removed it from their diet completely. Other independent studies done on social media have also shown that people were willing to go vegan three or four days a week.

As a meat-lover and someone who exercises regularly, I was originally very sceptical about going vegan but I have been curious for a long time about giving it a go, even just for a short time. After all, a lot of people worldwide continue to go vegan every day and constantly talk about the benefits from the diet. So, with an ever-growing healthy lifestyle gaining a lot of media coverage I felt it only right to let curiosity get the better of me and give it a go!


The health claims made by vegans and those trying a vegan diet are extensive, with many said to be long-term solutions to common health issues. The suggested health benefits are said to include:

  • Ease bloating
  • Aid weight loss
  • Increase intake of nutrients
  • Lower blood sugar levels
  • Improve kidney function
  • Protect against certain cancers
  • Lower risk of heart disease
  • Reduce pain from arthritis

That’s an extensive list of supposed health benefits however, the exact reasons why these benefits occur are not fully known. That being said, it can only benefit everyone to increase the amount of nutrient-rich, whole plant foods in your diet.


To begin with, it felt like a huge sacrifice giving up my favourite regular staples such as meat, fish, eggs, dairy and honey. Gone were barbecue ribs, steak and grilled chicken. Protein sources were replaced with a variety of beans, lentils, tofu, edamame and chickpeas. I’ve always enjoyed a wide variety of fruit and vegetables so I simply further increased my intake of these. I doubled my intake of leafy greens and supplemented my food intake with snacks such as nuts, trail mix and vegan protein bars, usually made from nut butters.

Taking part in Veganuary, you might think to yourself “well at least I get to save a bit of money this month”. Well actually, being a vegan can be pretty expensive. Yes, like all diets it can be done on a budget, but if you want to eat with the same variety as your normal diet you’ll be spending a lot of money. Health food shops and online health food stores charge a ton for vegan ingredients so vegan alternatives such as cheese, meat and chocolate can be at least double the price of their usual non-vegan options. This is usually the cause of food retailers taking advantage of the demand by overcharging for certain products. However, depending on the food you have selected for you diet, vegan food can be very affordable as the bulk of the main foods in the diet - beans, rice, pasta, fruits, and vegetables – are not expensive.


Being someone who has actively follows a healthy diet, exercises regularly and always tries to improve their health and wellbeing, I was trying this diet mostly out of curiosity as I wanted to see what differences I would notice from my normal go-to diets.

After a month I wouldn’t say I noticed a profound difference overall but I did experience some healthy benefits. After a week or so my meat cravings subsided as I became more used to my new diet and lifestyle and I didn’t really feel too different to when I’m following my normal diet. I didn’t agree with claims from people who said being a vegan helped ease their bloating issues as, with a vegan diet utilising different types of beans as a protein source, bloating was definitely an issue with the diet.

Did I lose weight? Yes…but that would generally happen with any healthy balanced diet where you were in a caloric deficit and exercising regularly. I must admit that since I increased my portion sizes with a lot of the extra vegetables and greens, I did experience very good satiety levels and felt fuller for much longer than usual and did not often feel like the need to have a snack, even though I had healthy vegan ones at the ready.

After the first week or so when my body had gotten used to the diet, I did start to feel a bit different. Since I wasn’t having any sugars in the form of carbs and other foods that my body would usually get energy from, it felt a lot like a total detox and that my body was cleansing itself of toxins. My mental clarity and focus seemed more or less the same as usual, however my general feeling of wellbeing felt different.

Would I recommend the vegan diet to people? Well, whilst I have nothing negative to say about it, I would recommend that people give it a try and see if it suits them. Especially if you’re the type of person who likes some variety in your diet. There are lots of healthy diets out there and I always urge people to try out all of the ones that sound interesting to them because you can always chop and change them every month to few months to keep your diet interesting. You’ve got nothing to lose as your health and lifestyle will only benefit from it.

I’ve never been someone to believe that you have to go all-in with something if you don’t want to, so I would encourage people to at the very least give it a try a few days or even just a few meals per week. If everyone tried to do this with their eating habits, then little by little it can start to have a more positive effect on our planet as well as our health and lifestyles.

By Sean Dunne, LA Muscle Team Member





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