At the end of March, I challenged myself to go vegan for an entire month. As a decently picky eater, the idea had always seemed far-fetched to me. I was curious to see if I could do it and how my body would react to it. Now, more than 30 days later, I have a deeper understanding of the entire experience.
People have many different reasons for going vegan. For some it’s cultural, for others it’s because of dietary restrictions. Some do it because of the meat industry’s environmental impact. The reason I went vegan, you ask? Bimini Bon-Boulash.
Bon-Boulash was a contestant on the most recent season of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK. The second they walked into the Werk Room I was obsessed with them. They are a 5-foot-7-inch nonbinary vegan self-described “bimbo” drag queen with a yellow mullet down to their shoulders, no eyebrows and they’re also jacked.
I originally thought they had no chance of winning, so I jokingly started saying, “If Bimini wins then I’ll go vegan for a month.” As the season went on, and they won four maxi challenges, I started settling in with the reality that I was going vegan.
They lost. But at that point I was already in the mindset of going vegan, so I decided to challenge myself to do it anyway.
The hardest part was the anticipation. What had always held me back from going vegan was the anxiety about what I could and couldn’t eat. Since I was actually committed to doing it, I took the time to realistically think about the dietary framework of veganism.
But this made me realize that eating plant-based is not as hard as it seems. For everything I couldn’t have, there were several alternatives that tasted the same, if not better.
In preparation for the month ahead, I asked friends and the internet for any advice they had. Across the board, there was a similar sentiment that veganism is not as hard as it seems.
The hardest part was the first week of dieting, during which I had the most accidental mess-ups. The funniest mistake I made was when I ate “Kettle-cooked butter toffee pecans,” because for some reason I thought a food with the word “butter” in the title would be vegan. I will not take any questions as to why I made that assumption.
Now, I can’t pretend I was 100 percent vegan for all 30 days of April. There were definitely days when I woke up and felt the existential dread of life and needed a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich. During April, I also went home one weekend and didn’t have the willpower to not get a “The Lipsmacker” sandwich from my favorite local deli that included chicken, cheese, bacon and caesar dressing.
At the end of the month I took a moment to reflect on the entire experience. All in all, I think it was very enjoyable and not that difficult. The thought of going vegan was significantly more daunting than actually being vegan. On top of that, there are a lot more vegan-friendly options in restaurants and grocery store aisles in 2021 than there were a few years ago. Some vegan snacks I had are far better than non-vegan ones and will possibly become staples in my everyday life.
I also noticed a difference in how I felt. I’m lactose intolerant, so cutting out cheese and other dairy products definitely helped my body. When I ate non-vegan foods I felt a heaviness I did not feel after consuming vegan products.
In terms of some negative takeaways, veganism is not sustainable for me as a regular practice. I don’t think it’s a diet I could do full time, just because of the nature of my eating habits. I’m definitely a picky eater and for as much as I am willing to eat, there is a lot more that I’m not willing to eat. I think I could sustain being vegetarian full time. I just love cheese too much.
Another issue I ran into was the lack of options I had in terms of eating out. I like to cook, but I also like to treat myself on the weekends. Unfortunately, the scope of what I knew was available to me as a newly-vegan person without a car was limited in College Park. I also think having the option to go vegan can be a privilege. Veganism isn’t the most accessible for everyone from a fiscal and dietary standpoint. Depending on how you do it, being vegan can get expensive, and is definitely not in everyone’s budget.
My final takeaway is this: Nobody is perfect. If I had to guess, I would say I was a “perfect” vegan for about two-thirds of the full month. I’ve noticed there’s this notion around veganism — and many other diets — that you have to be completely in line with the dietary framework all the time. But you can be somewhat plant-based and consume animal products every now and then, and still experience the benefits of a plant-based diet.
I think everyone should try being vegan at least once in their life — it was truly a great experience.