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 Revolution, the 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.
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!).
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.
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.