A Month of Eating Vegan

Aaron and I usually do Whole30 and dry January to reset our eating and drinking habits after the holidays, but this year I suggested we try going vegan.

Ever since my mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease at age 61, I’ve done a lot of reading about how to maximize my healthspan, and nearly every resource has encouraged eating more plants and fewer or no animal products. I wanted to commit to a month of eating vegan to find out how it made us feel and whether it was a sustainable way for us to eat long term.

I believe everyone needs to find their own way of eating to feel their best. No matter how desperately I wish I could enjoy dairy, it will always make me feel miserable the next day thanks to increased phlegm and post-nasal drip, so I choose to avoid it while many people can eat it and feel just fine. Food is a touchy subject and I’m not here to advocate for a single best diet for everyone; I’m just exploring for my own health and happiness.

There are also plenty of moral arguments around eating animal products, but for the purposes of this experiment and post, I’m not going to touch those. I welcome you to do your own research and do what you think is right.

I’ll also say that I wasn’t 100% perfect and did eat a few animal products in January, but I didn’t stress about it; the perfect is the enemy of the good. But for transparency, here’s what went down:

  • On January 2, we went out to happy hour with friends and I had tomato soup that probably had cream in it.
  • I had a bunch of Superhero muffins in the freezer that I made in December with eggs in them, and I wasn’t about to waste those; I typically eat one first thing every morning before I walk the dogs. It helps get things moving, if you know what I mean.
  • I made a triple batch of Superhero muffins in January and used eggs again since I didn’t want to experiment with flax eggs and potentially ruin them; all that almond flour is expensive!
  • On January 29, we celebrated a friend’s birthday and I ate beef and pork at the catered taco bar. The margaritas were flowing and it was nearly the end of the month anyway. Sue me!
  • On January 31, I majorly craved a salmon filet and made one from our freezer for dinner. It was so, so good; no regrets.

When we went out to eat, I also didn’t go so far as to question whether vegetables were cooked in butter or if French fries were fried in beef fat or anything like that. We didn’t eat out often, so it wasn’t much of an issue.


In short: great!

I didn’t feel depleted or lacking nutrients. I didn’t even crave anything non-vegan until the very last day, when that need for salmon took me out.

I felt energetic, well-fueled and light in the sense that no meal felt like a brick in my stomach afterward the way a meal with meat sometimes can.

I had no trouble ramping up my running in January from less than 15 miles a week to 25+ miles a week. I noticed it was easier to keep my heart rate low (under 145 bpm) on easy runs than it had been previously. I have no idea if this is connected to the way I ate, but wanted to note it since it was unusual for me.

My, um, bathroom output was fantastic.

I did not lose weight, nor was that my intention.

I embraced processed carbs in a way that I haven’t in a long time. I got on a grilled-vegan-cheese sandwich and tomato soup kick for a while, and started eating bagels with vegan butter a few times a week to fuel longer runs.

I also tried (and really liked) some vegan processed foods, like Impossible plant-based chicken nuggets. It’s probably not something one should eat every day, and I sometimes went a little hard on processed stuff as comfort food when I was feeling low. Just because something is vegan doesn’t mean it’s healthy, and you can certainly follow a vegan diet but eat like total garbage if you want. The more I stuck with whole plant foods—like stuff from the produce section—the better I felt.


I continued to eat mostly vegan through the first half of February since I felt so great. Then we went to Phoenix for a week, and I wanted to try all the delicious foods at a bunch of restaurants, as I always do on vacation, without any limits. That kind of reset me to an anything-goes (minus dairy) mentality ever since.

But ideally, I would like to eat a plant-based diet—which is different than vegan, I discovered, even though I feel like the terms are often used interchangeably. According to the fine folks at Harvard:

“Plant-based or plant-forward eating patterns focus on foods primarily from plants. This includes not only fruits and vegetables, but also nuts, seeds, oils, whole grains, legumes, and beans. It doesn’t mean that you are vegetarian or vegan and never eat meat or dairy. Rather, you are proportionately choosing more of your foods from plant sources.”

Katherine D. McManus, MS, RD, LDN

That sounds great to me. I couldn’t say I’ll never eat meat again, and I wouldn’t want to live without seafood (salmon! sushi! yum). I avoid dairy, but I’ll often have a slice of regular birthday cake at a party or eat regular ice cream on vacation. Being strict about not eating something feels so restrictive, which will ultimately not work for me personally. Again: The perfect is the enemy of the good.

I would like to eat mostly vegan at home, and sometimes eat seafood and less often eat meat. When I eat at a friend’s home, I’d like to eat what is served and not make a bunch of requests. When I go out to eat at a restaurant, I’d like to eat whatever sounds good to me; probably something I wouldn’t normally prepare at home.

People really like to identify with and advocate for the specific way they eat, which is fine. My approach is: You do you, I’ll do me, let’s all mind our own business and be happy. (Should I put that on a T-shirt?!)


When it came to planning meals, I really only had to figure out dinner since my go-to breakfast and lunch are already vegan (aside from the aforementioned Superhero muffins).


After my morning workout, I’d make a green smoothie. See recipe below in the Instagram caption!

I switched to vegan protein powder for January, and I liked Four Sigmatic plant-based protein powder in Creamy Cacao so much that I continue to order and use it today.

My favorite non-dairy milk for smoothies is Milkademia macademia milk or So Delicious unsweetened coconut milk (both found at Costco), but choose your own adventure!

I also started adding Kuli Kuli moringa powder after I heard about its brain benefits on the Huberman Lab podcast. You can read more about it on Good Housekeeping as well. It’s important to note that you shouldn’t use it while pregnant or nursing.

Finally, sometimes I use blueberries instead of strawberries, or a combo of the two. You could also substitute your favorite fruit, like pineapple, mango, raspberries, etc. Go wild!

I didn’t track calories or macros in January, but one day I input all my food into My Fitness Pal to see how much protein I was getting. I discovered this smoothie is indeed a meal in itself with 610 calories and 31 grams of protein. I find it very filling. If I have a lighter workout or am not super hungry, I leave out the almond butter, and then typically eat almond butter with an apple as a snack between lunch and dinner.


I’m a creature of habit and have eaten the same salad for years.

Some of the veggies vary, but it usually consists of:

  • 1 small head Romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 1/2 bell pepper, chopped
  • 3-4 white button mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/2 avocado, mashed
  • 2 Tbsp hemp hearts
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2-3 Tbsp homemade lemon Dijon dressing
  • Salt to taste (I do 5 turns of a sea salt grinder)

Specific! I’ve honed it to perfection.

The homemade lemon Dijon dressing is based on the lemon-miso dressing from Run Fast, Eat Slow. I used to make it as written, but discovered in 2019 that garlic gives me terrible intestinal gas pain and was the reason I felt bloated and like I needed to lie down after lunch every day. So, I started leaving that out, and the dressing was still delicious. Then I did Whole30 and had to swap Dijon mustard in for miso to be Whole30 compliant, and I liked it so much that I kept it.

Here’s my version of the recipe; I always double the following amounts so I have a lot on hand:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper

I use an immersion blender to combine the ingredients, but you could also whisk vigorously or shake in a jar to emulsify.

The dressing is pretty tart, and the key for my salad enjoyment is mashing up the avocado and mixing all the ingredients well so the avocado, nutritional yeast and dressing combine to make more of a creamy/cheesy/lemony dressing. Hard to explain, but trust me, it’s good!

The salad pictured above also contains a serving of black beans (1/2 cup), which I added the first few days of January to get extra protein, but it made the salad way too filling. It’s hard to tell in the photo, but this salad fills a medium-sized mixing bowl, so it’s already quite satiating due to the sheer volume of food. If I were in the middle of marathon training and running a ton, the addition of black beans might be just right. Again: choose your own adventure.


This is where it was fun to try new recipes and make some of our old faves vegan. I usually double recipes to make a ton of leftovers so we can eat the same dinner 3-4 nights in a row.

Clockwise from top left:

Pinch of Yum red curry lentils. This has been a favorite for years! I like to stir in chopped kale at the end.

Figs Not Pigs unstuffed pepper skillet. My vegan friend Hallie recommended this and it’s so good! We’ve made it multiple times. Aaron isn’t a huge fan of vegan cheese, so I leave it off of his half.

Minimalist Baker tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwich made with with Violife vegan cheese slices and Miyokos spreadable oat-milk butter. This combo is the ultimate comfort food for me; I crave it on rainy days and after a hard workout or long run. The tomato soup recipe is top notch and even drew wild compliments from my picky Italian stepdad. The Violife cheese slices get nice and melty and approximate real cheese just fine for this former cheese lover. I could (and for a few weeks in January did) eat this every day.

With so many amazing food blogs out there dishing up free vegan recipes and plant-based food products tasting better than ever, it’s never been easier to be vegan (or vegan curious). If you have any vegan favorites you’d like to share, please send them my way via a comment below or on Instagram. I always love to try new things!

This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

One thought on “A Month of Eating Vegan

  1. I am reading and learning some really groundbreaking information from Dr. William Li who is a Harvard graduate doctor, as well as a brilliant scientist, who has a following all over the world. His nook Eat to fight Disease is brilliant. He is also got the current number one best selling book on all of Amazon called eat to fight your diet, which has groundbreaking information on health, Microbiome, metabolism, etc. You may want to check him out. I also have been doing some reading from Dr. Mark Hyman, with his new book Young Forever. Also really interesting and you may have interest in it as well. Love you! MIL


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