The Great Vegan Experiment

It’s no secret that I love vegetables. If you’ve read even one of my WIAW posts, you can easily come to that conclusion. And for the last few years, I’ve enjoyed eating a diet of mostly plant-based foods, with a little bit of meat, dairy and eggs. Over the last year, my consumption of dairy has increased a bit, mostly in the form of Greek yogurt (which is high protein, easily accessible, and tastes delicious). I also eat eggs or egg whites pretty much every single day. I typically go a day or two without eating meat, but the majority of my dinners include some type of animal-based protein. Regardless- besides breakfast, vegetables are usually the star of each of my meals.

A few weeks ago Greg and I watched the movie Forks Over Knives. (I’d been hearing buzz about the movie for a while, and was interested in it… but just wasn’t sure if I was ready to go there. One of the comments I had heard from friends who had seen the documentary was that “it’ll definitely make you want to stop eating meat.”) We watched the movie, and both thought that it was quite interesting, and really liked the way the information was presented. It was informative, but not in-your-face or pushy. If fact, I don’t think it ever once blatantly states that “you should stop eating meat all together.”

After watching the movie, Greg and I talked about some of the key points. It basically makes a great case for how eating a plant-based diet can dramatically improve your health- and in some cases, even save your life. And it makes sense- the points are all very logical.

Shortly after watching Forks Over Knives, we watched the movie Vegucated. And… wow. If you want to see a really powerful, funny, intelligently produced documentary, check out this movie. But be forewarned- it will definitely make you look at food differently- and might drag out some pretty powerful emotions. The movie follows three people who agree to live a vegan lifestyle for six weeks and how it impacts them. This movie was amazing, and for the first time, really made me think of the moral issue, and I will be talking much more about this movie in the coming weeks.

In the past, I’ve had a few attempts at “going vegan” for a few days, or (at most) a week at a time. But to be honest- it was hard. Greg wasn’t on board, and I still cooked meat for him… it was just too much work. And Greg is DEFINITELY a meat-eater. He eats bacon and eggs for breakfast almost every morning (along with a whey protein shake), a ham or turkey sandwich for lunch, and some kind of animal-based protein for dinner. I really enjoy seafood and a well-prepared piece of chicken, pork or steak, but eggs and dairy are much more important “staples” in my diet.

(Black Bean and Spinach Frittata)

Somehow, Greg and I came to the conclusion that it would be cool to do a “vegan experiment.” And notice I said experiment and not challenge. I don’t really want to think of it as a challenge.I’m still kind of shocked that he agreed to this- and really excited about it! I’ve stated many times before that I get so much more creative when I cook without any meat- and I’m a lot more conscious of what I put into my body. We came up with the idea to give up all animal-based foods for a specific amount of time: from October 15th – November 21st (which is the day before Thanksgiving). That ends up being about 5 1/2 weeks- and the “plan” is to eat turkey on Thanksgiving- and that will be the first “non-vegan” meal. I say “plan” loosely- because depending on how either of us are feeling, we may not have the desire to eat meat. The opposite may also end up happening- who knows?

We’re both getting physicals and blood work done this week, so that we can have something to compare to at the end of the 5 1/2 weeks. I am definitely interested to see if either of our cholesterol levels go down (or if any other positive health changes occur). We’re also both going to “journal” about how we are feeling, based on energy, digestion, etc. It’s really important to me that I am true what I’m feeling with this whole experience. I think that it’s really easy to “want” to feel different so badly, that you talk yourself into feeling better, when you really don’t. Though I would love to have more energy and just feel better in general, I’m going to be honest with the process. And of course, if I end up losing any weight- that would be awesome, but I’m not really expecting that to happen from giving up meat (because I didn’t gain weight from eating meat!). I think that if I do end up losing any weight, it will be because I have to be a little more conscious in general about what I’m eating (and it won’t be quite as easy to eat mindlessly).

One more thought- the only “non-vegan” food that I will probably still consume is honey. I don’t generally use honey as a sweetener, but won’t completely avoid foods that include it.

I know we are often quick to judge others’ lifestyle choices and what they eat- and I’ve certainly been guilty of that. Regardless of it this vegan experiment turns into a permanent lifestyle change, or if I go back to eating meat after the 5 1/2 weeks, the decision will be based on what’s best for me and my body. I promise not to “preach,” but I will talk about any positive (or negative) changes I am feeling. I will not bash anyone else’s choice to eat meat, because that’s a personal choice. I welcome your support, curiosity and questions over the next few weeks- and really look forward to seeing what happens!

P.S.- look out for some fantastic product reviews and giveaways over the next month!

What are your thoughts on living a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle?


  1. LOVE this!! And I can’t wait to see how this experiment goes for the two of you. I am vegetarian and the thought of going vegan (even as an experiment) has crossed my mind before. I think it’s something I’ll have to try once I’m no longer living at home.

  2. i think that’s awesome! good for you. i was a vegetarian (or, pescatarian to be more specific…couldn’t give up my annual birthday sushi dinner) for over eight years when i re-developed lactose intolerance (I had it as a young kid and then it came back when i was 20). giving up dairy was HARD because i love cheese, but there are so many great alternatives now – and like you said, creativity seems to go hand in hand with meat and dairy free cooking. Delicious as they are, the processed imitation products (Daiya, ohmygosh i love you) are still that – processed – so it’s fun to experiment with whole foods to mimic the creaminess that typically comes from dairy. once i started to get serious about working out (about two years ago), i slowly integrated chicken and turkey back into my diet – but i seldom eat either (like you, eggs are the biggest animal-based staple in my diet!). i think it’s absolutely possible to feel healthy and strong without eating meat (and DEFINITELY without eating dairy), you just have to be more focused on the food you’re eating to make sure you’re getting crucial nutrients.

    *also, i don’t think that cutting meat out of your diet will necessarily change your weight (sometimes without meat, people actually feel hungrier and over-eat) but cutting out dairy DEFINITELY helped me shed some excess pounds.*

    • Thanks for this awesome comment! I definitely want to try to make my own “cheese” and things like that. I’m a big fan of using as few ingredients as possible for anything!

  3. I have thought many, many, many times about trying out the vegan thing. I truly believe that humans are formulated to consume some animal proteins, but not nearly the insane amount we eat now-a-days. Right now, I’m happy consuming moderate amounts of respsonibly raised animal proteins, but part of me wants to try out the vegan thing just to see if I can do it. I like the challenge. :)

    • I like the “challenge” too. Mostly because it really makes me think more about what I’m eating- which is definitely a good thing for me. All of the documentaries I’ve seen definitely point out the massive amount of meat and dairy people consume now. Meat used to be a “special” thing- and now it’s in pretty much every meal for the majority of Americans!

  4. I’m so happy that you are giving the vegan lifestyle a try (and impressed you got your husband to participate!). I went vegan this past January and it’s been the best decision I’ve ever made. I feel amazing in all aspects of my life, and it’s even helped me reach a whole new level with my fitness routine. I’m excited to see what you think too!!

  5. I am so torn between my occasional meat meal and being vegetarian. I am such a huge egg eater and have a huge passion for cheese, that I think I would lose my joy with out them in my diet. I could go forever without meat, but have anxiety when thinking about giving up cheese and eggs. I do love that your doing this and look forward to following your day to day thoughts on it.

    • I don’t think there’s anything wrong with occasionally eating meat (and eggs and dairy). I think that if I DO go back to eating animal proteins after this, it will be pretty seldom. For now, I’m 100% ruling all of it out- so I can REALLY see if it makes a difference! :)

  6. Very cool that you’re trying it out! I enjoy my chicken/turkey burgers –I eat that type of meat probably 4x/week, and I feel great :) I also love dairy & eggs, and of course lots o’ fruits & begs :) but more power to ya for trying this out!!

    • If you feel great with what you’re eating, there’s no reason to change it! And that’s great! I’m just definitely curious because I do NOT feel so great…

  7. Definitely try it if you’re interested and go by how your body responds. I would only add that there are plenty of alternative meat sources than those horrible conventional farms. Grass-fed animals and pastured eggs are completely different nutritionally and the animals are treated humanely getting to live much longer lives out on acres and acres of pasture. These kinds of farms are also ecologically sustainable and help local economies. Just had it put it out there ;) But I’m all about finding what works best for each person, good luck!

    • Yup- I’ve written about my feeling of “fake meat” before on here, and I’m NOT a fan of that kind of stuff. The only kind I’ve found that is “okay” is the Field Roast brand- which isn’t made of anything scary (it’s got lentils and veggies and stuff). In recent years, I’ve pretty much only bought eggs from a few different local farmers and only beef from a local farm where I know that the cows have a great life. (Trust me, I’ve researched this a lot and definitely believe in supporting local farmers). That being said, you should really check out Vegucated. It made me look at some farms (even organic ones that I thought were “safe”) a lot differently. The FDA regulations as to what constitutes as “humane” is pretty scary.

  8. Great post, Lauren!! I’ve been playing with the idea of going vegan (or at least vegetarian) for a while, but like you said, it can be difficult. I think seeing it as a moral issue will make the difficulty less of an inhibiting factor, so maybe I’ll check out the films you mentioned. Anyway, kudos for taking on this experiment (and getting Greg to do it too – I know too many men who would never be on board with this!) and I can’t wait to read all your thoughts about it!

    • DEFINITELY check out the movies- especially Vegucated. It’s a real eye-opener.
      I’m still shocked that Greg was on board. :)

  9. Alexandra says:

    This is such a fabulous post!! So excited to read about your journey! Going vegetarian and/or vegan has been an idea that I have toyed with for a long time and I would love to gain a honest and open perspective. Good Luck!

  10. Love this post Lauren. My husband and I just watched Forks Over Knives as well and were talking about doing a ‘vegan trial’. I thought the movie made a case for eating more vegetables, but it wasn’t quite as hard core as I anticipated. Have you seen Food Inc.? That’s an awesome movie that gets into the actual butchering of animals and how they’re kept. I will definitely check out Vegucated!

    • I saw Food Inc a few years ago, and that got me really inspired for a while… but then I started slacking. Vegucated definitely takes it a step further- it really doesn’t hide the truth at all. DEFINITELY check it out.

  11. I’m so excited to hear about your experiences over the next month – and I’m here if you have questions or need support! The cheese cravings were the hardest for me, but I have lots of cheezy recipes that you can use to help with that. And Daiya, of course. YAY!!!

    • Yay! I’ll definitely be talking to you. And I’m already looking at different vegan restaurants that we can go to after the MCM next weekend. :)

  12. Good luck on your “experiment.” I’m curious to see how it goes. I haven’t eaten any meat for about 16 months, although I still eat eggs and cheese. I stopped drinking cows milk years ago and switched to almond instead. I cook with almond, rice or soy milk too. As a result of switching my “diet” (hate this term), I have more energy than ever before and the weight fell off. It’s different for each person though, so I can’t wait to hear about your journey. Maybe it’ll inspire me to ditch the eggs and cheese.

    • Wow- no meat for 16 months! I’m assuming that you probably don’t miss it then- and that’s great that you feel better! I don’t know how I feel about giving up eggs and cheese for good… it makes me a little sad right now. But, I guess we’ll see!

  13. i think it’s totally great that you guys are doing this together :-) can’t wait to read about your vegan adventures :-)

  14. This is a really exciting/interesting endeavor. And good for Greg being on board. I’m definitely with you on eggs and dairy being staples. I want to try vegan for at least a week, but I don’t think I could be so hardcore as to look at the ingredients in EVERYTHING (like OMG there is honey in this), but I could definitely make an attempt to cut all animal-based products from my life.

    • As for honey, it is in SO many things (even the wraps that I bought), so if a bit of that sneaks in, no big deal. It’s pretty easy to know if anything has eggs or dairy though because it’s always CLEARLY labeled as an allergen warning. I bet you could do it for a week- and get the beef on board too!

  15. I so love that you are doing this and that your hubby is onboard!!! I’m actually vegan myself, and people may judge that I don’t eliminate products either that have honey. Just cause you can’t do it all doesn’t mean you don’t do somethings!!

    Can’t wait to hear about your results and I think that it’s so smart of you to go and get your blood work done. That’s so key for seeing how you changed!! Good luck and I’m sure you’ll both do fantastic!!!

    • Thank you! Most “vegans” that I know don’t completely avoid honey. I’ve found that they have the same view as me- they won’t go out and buy it as a sweetener, but if there’s some of it in something, no big deal. I definitely think everything else makes enough of a difference. :)

  16. Can’t wait to hear how it goes. I think that eating vegan would be fairly easy at home, not so much going out to eat though. Looking forward to reading about it and hearing if your cholesterol changes. I had to do this home blood test for insurance and mine came back borderline high (though it might not be correct)!

    • It’s DEFINITELY easier at home- unless you’re going out to vegan restaurants that don’t serve any meat, eggs or dairy.
      My cholesterol is crazy high- BUT my doctor said not to worry, because my HDL (good cholesterol) is the highest she’s ever seen. Still, I’d like to see it go down… (though I haven’t had it tested in about 3 years now, so it may have changed already)

  17. I can’t wait to hear how it goes!! I was a vegan for years, but I ended up adding eggs and fish back into my diet. :)

  18. I’ve been vegan almost a year and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Still can’t convince my husband to totally give up meat. He eats vegan at home though so cooking is easy. Hope you both enjoy the experience.

    • That’s good that your husband eats vegan at home- that makes it pretty easy. That’s how Greg will be if I decide to continue eating vegan and he doesn’t- because he’ll eat whatever I cook (and then he’ll just order meat when we go out).

  19. That’s awesome!!! Have fun!!! So happy Greg is on board! That will make it so much more enjoyable. Can’t wait to see all your creations!

  20. This sounds great–I’ll be extra curious about what Greg has to say.
    This might sound kind of bad, but for me, the “moral issues” are always in bigger play than the “health issues” associated with what I eat. I know I should care equally about what is physically going into my body, but I get so much more emotionally outraged at the treatment of animals and the environment, and that’s what honestly motivates me to “eat clean”…

    • I don’t think that sounds bad at all! You really need to go watch Vegucated (and Forks over Knives if you haven’t yet). You would really appreciate it!
      BTW- I made a “chicken salad” with Beyond Meat today. :) YUM.

  21. Good for you, I’m excited to follow along! I was vegan for a month during a cleanse and felt much better but I think that was more from the lack of gluten. Good luck! And yay for Greg being on board!

    • I cut out gluten for 3 months once and felt AWFUL. It made me tired and bitter AND I gained weight. I really, really wanted it to make a positive change, but it just didn’t. But, I’m not complaining that my body happens to like gluten- bring on the bread!

  22. I am so excited to see what you guys come up with! When I went vegan for a while I loved the way it made me feel. You definitely get used to cooking at home, and even navigating restaurants. Some of the best meals I had were when I called ahead to (nicer) restaurants to see if they could accommodate a vegan diet. I got some of the coolest dishes custom-made by ATL’s best chefs!

    • Ooh good tip about the restaurants! :)
      Do you think you’ll go back to eating vegan after your figure competition (when you no longer have to eat 50000 grams of protein a day)? :)

  23. I love that you’re experimenting to find the best way to eat for you, and I look forward to hearing about how it goes!

  24. This is going to be so interesting to read about! I’ve been vegetarian for 10-ish years, 5 of those as vegan, and just recently (the past month or so) back to being vegetarian (eating eggs and some dairy). I’ve definitely become less innovative in the kitchen even with that small change–I love the creativity of vegan cooking. I also love that it’s overall an “experiment” and not a “challenge” for you guys. Challenges sound so combative :D

  25. I watched Forks Over Knives with BB this summer and we both agreed that it was very well done. I’ve actually only heard of Vegucated from the couple of times I’ve heard you mention it, but now you’ve got me curious. I love the type of food-based documentaries that show a person’s progression during an “experiment” and I’m always curious to hear them speak about how they feel during and after the whole process. I can’t WAIT to follow you on this journey. I think it’s AWESOME that the hubby is on board too! That will make things SO much easier! I’ve thought about “trying on” veganism a few times (mainly just because I like a good challenge) but have just never gotten around to committing to it. I will say it would be hardest for me to give up my precious #yolkporn…and cottage cheese, but I think I could do it if I really put my mind to it…at least for a week anyway! ;)


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