I Went Vegan Like Beyoncé — Here’s What Happened

I would *literally* do anything to be like Beyoncé. Following her famous 22 days to Vegan isn’t an extreme measure by any means, but I feel like if it’s good enough for Queen Bey, it’s good enough for me.

So why 22 days, besides the fact that Beyoncé says so? Marco Borges, the author of The 22-Day Revolutionthe actual plan Bey uses (and wrote the Foreword for), explains that 22 days is how long it takes to form a habit. So after 22 days, your body will probably stop having some of the cravings it used to have and start craving the healthier things that it’s now used to.

What are the potential benefits of adapting a vegan diet?

  • Better sleep
  • Clearer (and glowier) skin
  • Excess weight loss
  • Increase in energy
  • Lowered blood sugar levels
  • Balanced hormones
  • May protect against certain cancers
  • And the benefits on the environment alone are enough to convince anyone

It’s probably important to note here that I’m already a vegetarian, but… I love cheese. A lot. On anything, with anything, any time, anywhere, any how. I love ice cream and cream sauce and I live for brunch (which ranges from milky-batter soaked French Toast to Benedict with creamy hollandaise…. my real life dream but my vegan nightmare). I am in no place to commit to adapting a Vegan Lifestyle forever.

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So what was I hoping to get out of the 22 days (besides the bragging rights that Bey and I have something in common)?

I’ve always had ranges of stomach issues and sluggishness that I have a creeping suspicion is from a dairy intolerance. I’ve also spent a lot of time researching how dairy actually can affect the human body, and I wonder how much dairy affects my skin, my energy, my sleep, etc. If I were able to wain off dairy for 22 days, then maybe I’d be able to better understand what effects dairy has on my body and, after the 22 days, start adding in only the foods that are worth it (aka Baked Brie or Graeter’s Black Raspberry Chip Ice Cream — in moderation, of course). Or who knows, maybe I really will become a lifelong convert and move to a farm and do yoga amongst my vegetable garden every day.

 

Either way, here starts my vegan journey. Pray for me that I will be able to resist the heavenliness of cheese!!

My 22 Days of Vegan (sort of…)

Day 1: I’m not sure what constitutes a pizza overdose, but whatever it is, I definitely achieved it last night at The Everygirl’s Staff Game Night, and I’m feeling the results of the greasy (and delicious) cheese pizza, even the day after, in my gritty skin and upset stomach. This is extremely motivating to start my 22 days to Beyoncé-level perfection (well probably not that drastic, but a girl can dream). I usually stay pretty vegan when I make my meals at home, so the first day feels like a breeze — smoothie for breakfast, avocado toast for lunch, and quinoa pasta with vegan pesto for dinner — piece of (vegan) cake. Speaking of cake, I had a coconut milk ice cream bar for dessert, which was delicious and resulted in absolutely no cravings. 22 Days!? Please, give me a real challenge.

Day 2: So, I guess I spoke too soon… it’s only the second day and I found myself already checking when the 22 days will be over and recording the end date in my calendar. I thought it would be motivating to check off day by day. All I want is to add a poached egg on my avocado toast and some parmesan to my quinoa pasta. That doesn’t seem like too much to ask!! And yet, I know if I fail myself, and more importantly fail Beyoncé, on just the second day, we would have more problems than just cheese-less pasta.

Day 3: I was prepared for lack of dairy but not for lack of brunch… I had to go to a vegan restaurant to get a Tofu Scramble so I could avoid the temptation of glorious Eggs Benedict.

Day 6: I didn’t have time to make breakfast before my barre class, so I picked up an almond milk latte (sounds trendy, and is vegan!) and instead of the egg wrap I would normally get, I walked across the street to the health food smoothie store to get some kind of quinoa almond butter thing (coffee shops don’t always have good vegan options, I quickly learned). It was pretty delicious, but I shelled out $6.50 instead of my usual $2.75. The price of being Beyoncé!

Day 10: I quickly realized that vegan wasn’t an automatic solution for healthy eating. When the cravings started to kick in, I found it easier and easier to justify unhealthy eating with the classification that it’s vegan. Oreos are surprisingly vegan, despite what claims to be a cream-filling, and white pasta is usually the only vegan option at some restaurants (no dismay to me, an avid pasta lover, if you couldn’t tell). But I knew if I wanted to keep this going, I actually had to put effort into what I’m eating, not just what I’m not eating.

Day 12: My focus is now more on eating plant-based foods, rather than just avoiding animal products, as The 22 Day Revolution suggests. I’m making more of an effort to eat healthy fats (like avocados, nuts, olive oil) with every meal, and adding in more vegan protein sources (like tofu, lentils, quinoa, nut butter). Turns out, a vegan diet takes a lot more research and work than just “no meat and no dairy.” I also made sure to take a daily b12 vitamin (which we get mainly from animal sources).

Day 13: I am starving. All of the time. It feels like no matter how big the salad or how many grams of protein I get, I’m just not feeling satisfied. I want junk food or some kind of hearty, unhealthy meal. I snack a lot on vegan yogurt (surprisingly tastes like normal yogurt), nuts, and fruits or veggies (I know, I sound so healthy!).

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Day 15: Bless my mother, who always supports and indulges me in the crazy things I do for the sake of an article. She enlightened me with a delicious and easy recipe for a cashew cream sauce (yes, it does sound very Beyoncè-y). Surprisingly, it was not that hard to make, and totally satisfied my cream sauce cravings.

Day 16: I’ve stopped feeling so hungry! I actually feel satisfied after meals, and even some things like lentil and quinoa soup fill me up so much, I’m barely hungry for dinner (I never thought I’d be that girl who would get full from soup). This is probably from a combination of my body adjusting to the new diet, and being more conscious about getting enough nutrients for my body. AND my skin has been 100% clear for the past week (and it may just be my imagination, but I’d say kind of glowier too)! I’m already starting to feel like Queen Bey.

Day 18: Pro tip: I’ve learned Asian is the way to go when you must go out to eat. A good vegetable maki and miso soup is a godsend when I feel like I’m missing out on life and just want to order something at a restaurant without asking for substitutions.

Day 19: Today… I ate dairy. I was having a really stressful week (my vegan journal is starting to sound a little bit like a life diary… this is making me nervous how much cheese actually matters in my life), and it was a late night run to a grilled cheese restaurant with friends that made me crack. I mean, could Beyoncé resist that!? I certainly feel the effects immediately after, even though it was only half of a sandwich. My stomach was bloated and nauseous and I even have a headache. It’s like a full blown dairy hangover. I silently vow to myself, as I regretfully throw away the wrapper, that I will carry on through the next few days completely plant-based and I will not let cheese control my life!

Day 22: Well, the day that I marked on my calendar 20 days ago is finally here. I’m sure you’re wondering, and yes I did survive the final three days without dairy, after the Grilled-Cheese-Disaster of Day 19. It actually motivated me to add in more nutrients, and I didn’t even have any cravings. My last few days were filled with sweet potatoes, tofu, beans, lentils, lots of avocados, and bucketloads of quinoa. I also spent basically all my money on açai bowls.

 

The Outcome

So, the vegan life is not totally for me. But here’s what I did learn: after 22 days of being vegan (okay fine, 21 and a half — curse you, grilled cheese!!), I felt more energy, I felt lighter, I slept better, and my typical bloat and digestive discomfort came a lot less often. My skin is clearer and glows more than usual, and I probably lost a pound or two (though this isn’t scientifically tested — I prefer not to weigh myself, for sanity’s sake.)

The benefits were great enough that I couldn’t ignore them. I also loved how healthy and energized I felt. But I think I enjoy and appreciate food too much to limit myself too much from anything (after all, you only live once!). So from now on, I’m going by the Chegan lifestyle (or “cheating vegan”), which means vegan most of the time (so I get to reap some of those great benefits I felt) with the occasional cheat, when it’s really, truly, worth it (key word: occasional).

These 22 days have taught me to be much more mindful about the direct effects dairy has on me, as well as what nutrients I’m giving my body. I actually think about each thing I eat in terms of what good it will do for my body, instead of whether or not it tastes good. But I won’t completely say goodbye forever to that baked brie, ice cream, or, you know, grilled cheese. I’ll leave that kind of self-control to Beyoncé.

 

 

Have you ever gone vegan? Would you try going vegan? Tell me about your experience in the comments! 

  • Been vegan for almost 2 years now, with a few mishaps or cheat meals in there, but it was overall the best decision I’ve ever made for myself. And once you become conscious of all of the amazing reasons to go vegan, it’s impossible to just pretend you don’t know them.

  • Kelsey Novotny

    I’m two years Vegan, and I was also addicted to cheese prior to going Vegan . For me I think I had to fully wrap my head around the dairy industry to kick the habit. So for anyone interested I’d recommend listening to this podcast episode: The Rich Roll Podcast, episode entitled “Dr. Neal Barnard on Breaking the Dairy Addiction”. Also if you haven’t seen Conspiracy, go do that too.

  • Justin

    Please understand the difference between being vegan and eating a plant based diet. Being vegan goes far beyond just a diet.

    • Edee Phillips

      Vegan 4 2months. Gained weight but its becuz i have a big appetite. Need to get rid of a few bad things even thou they r vegan. I do believe this is a healhier way of life, u just have to make good choices.

    • Ray

      I wish people would understand this. Vegan is a lifestyle. Plant based is our food choices.

  • Lorraine

    My use and I had a meal plan for 1 month in a doctor’s. program. The meals were prepare for us and we were motivated. My husband and I have been trying for 4 months on our own. We are hungry most of the time because we are not eating enough.. Cooking 3 meals a day is too much. I haven’t done batch cooking be a use I do not know what to prepare. Cookbooks really recipes are not appealing. I go on YouTube for some vegan dishes. I need a coach or support group or someone to physically teach me. My husband is ready to go back to be a non vegan and sometimes, I feel like reverting back. Knowing what I know about the food, makes me rethink going back. I need help!

  • Sepideh

    CHEGAN! That’s awesome haha
    I did the 22 day challenge two summers ago and my IBS symptoms disappeared – no bloating, no pains, no issues. It was glorious. But it was also a lot of work.
    I’m with you though – I try to avoid dairy as much as possible but I wont be too hard on myself with dairy and meat once in a while. Although.. lately I’ve been having more meat because a lot of the vegan ‘meat’ alternatives don’t settle well with me (i.e. tofu and too much beans) so I’m trying to find what a happy balance is for me.
    http://www.elleisforlove.com

  • Anna

    I totally appreciate this effort! Even 21.5 days into a new habit should be a success as each lifestyle change takes work. An important highlight here is that going ‘chegan’ was a pipeline to get you in front of more types, maybe better types, of foods that otherwise wouldn’t have been seen as an option. Trying different types of diets (consumable food) is always interesting since different foods are substituted for others like your cashew cream sauce. Also A+ to the folks that keep their vegan / vegetarian commitment.

  • Lisa Mair

    If you understood the horror of the dairy industry, I think you would never be able to consume dairy again. Mother cows are artificially impregnated (on what the industry calls a “rape rack”), and then their babies are stolen from them after one day. I’ve seen many videos of them running after the farmer to get their baby back. Then they moo over and over, calling for their baby. Can you imagine that? The milk that was supposed to go to that scared, lonely calf is milked by a painful machine that causes mastitis, pus, and bleeding. All so we can have cheese and ice cream. It’s one of the saddest stories that is happening on an unimaginable scale in this world. We all talk about being compassionate, about making the world a better place. Let’s not turn a blind eye to those whose whole life is suffering, who have no voice (that we recognize). Please go vegan. Stay vegan. It will benefit your health, the environment, and you will feel such peace knowing that that mother and baby are not suffering because of you prioritized a temporary taste over their whole life. To learn more, here’s a quick video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UcN7SGGoCNI

    • Tikiri Herath

      Excellent point. I’ve noticed those go don’t stick to the vegan diet haven’t educated themselves on how their food comes to their plate and the processes in between. Once you do however it’s very hard to relapse. Been a vegan for a year and never felt better.

    • Tikiri Herath

      Excellent point. I’ve noticed those go don’t stick to the vegan diet haven’t educated themselves on how their food comes to their plate and the processes in between. Once you do however it’s very hard to relapse. Been a vegan for a year and never felt better.

  • Stewart Lands

    When my health deteriorated after giving up meat I decided to add wild fish and game to my diet. I feel so good now that I am convinced that the problems that many associate with commercial meat must have to do with additives rather than the meat itself. For me, lots of vegetables and plenty of wild venison, turkey and fish fit the bill perfectly. Also, considering that it takes more than 1/8 of an acre to grow the equivalent protein in a single elk, I am thrilled that I can save animal lives, too. Imagine how many creatures inhabit 1/8 acre of native land that are lost in converting it into crop fields. A single acre may support thousands of small birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians, and so I feel good about my environmental impact when I consume wild fish and game.

  • Anna Ivanova

    Thank you 🙂 Nice story and it was also fun to read 🙂 I’m not a vegan but I’m planning to switch to a vegan diet this summer. I’m ok without meat or fish but give up on cheese will be super challenging for me. Hopefully in the future I can lead vegan lifestyle …