To a beginner, being vegan even for 30 days can seem like an impossible task. But by the time you’ve finished reading Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s The 30-Day Vegan Challenge it may feel far more within your grasp. Unlike some books on veganism that toss around harsh words and violent images in order to scare you into adopting the diet, Patrick-Goudreau’s approach is far more practical. She recognizes that an individual’s hesitancy about adopting a vegan lifestyle isn’t as simple as whether or not he/she wants to make the change — there are many other factors that come into play.
Is being vegan affordable? Will the changes feel like deprivation or will they be enjoyable? How will friends and family react? Is it possible to still get adequate protein and calcium without meat and dairy? Everyone has reasons that support going vegan as well as reasons holding one back. The 30-Day Vegan Challenge tackles each of these considerations head-on in a decisive and focused manner. Patrick-Goudreau certainly isn’t afraid to speak her mind on issues that are important to her — but she does so in a compassionate and well articulated way which allows you to make up your mind for yourself. If at the end of reading it and attempting the challenge itself you still don’t feel adopting a vegan lifestyle is for you — it very well may not be. But chances are high that Patrick-Goudreau will be able to address each of your worries in a practical way that will make veganism seem very possible.
Some of the first steps suggested are keeping a food diary for three days before you begin the challenge, asking friends and family if they want to try it with you and writing down your goals and intentions. This is a great way to get a better sense of where you stand in the present (i.e. what animal-products you consume most often, what foods you are drawn to, etc.), what you want to accomplish (i.e. losing weight, having more energy, staying positive) and what supports you can put in place (i.e. having a buddy do it with you). It’s rare to find books of this nature that so perfectly grasp how we work as people and what we need in order to succeed at our goals.
How to read labels by G_kat26
The book also gives you the tools to get started in a way that makes your chances of succeeding far higher. You won’t just learn that “eating meat is bad” and be sent on your merry way. Instead, you’ll learn about how to read labels so you can pinpoint which names of ingredients you don’t want any part in and which staples to invest in so you always have a quick meal to turn to. Another great thing about the book is it emphasizes that fact going vegan doesn’t mean you have to start from scratch. Patrick-Goudreau helps you analyze your current go-to meals, favorite dishes and kitchen staples in order to determine which ones are already vegan and which can become so with some minor tweaks.
Some Things to Consider
One of the few down sides to this book is the fact it’s American. This won’t impact your experience very much. But when it offers specific vegan brands or stores/organizations that carry certain products — you may not be able to take the advice at face value as a Canadian. This isn’t a big deal, really. It just means you might have to do a quick Google search for health food stores in your area or vegan brands offered in Canada.
It must also be said that the book is a bit on the lengthy side if reading it has come from a new-found whim rather than a firm dedication. Fortunately, every few pages offers a quick summary of what was just discussed in a few sentences. So you can always scan through these and only read up on those sections that interest you. And if going vegan is something you are fully committed to you will likely have no trouble reading Patrick-Goudreau’s passionate and knowledgeable writing from cover to cover.
Instead of having a recipe section at the end, the recipes are scattered throughout the book at points where they help illustrate what is being discussed (i.e. the chapter on the benefits and uses of tofu is punctuated by several recipes that incorporate the ingredient.) This provides a nice little break and illustration every few chapters or so. But it also means if you are someone who prefers flicking through recipes organized by mealtime, you will likely want to invest in some sticky notes in order to keep track of the recipes that catch your eye. And once you’ve learned what to look for in a recipe from this book you can track down other books such as Vegan Planet or Eat, Drink & Be Vegan to give yourself some extra recipe ideas.
The book is organized in terms of “days” in the 30-day challenge. For example, breakfast ideas are discussed in full on the 7th day. But you certainly don’t want to be struggling through your morning meal the first week of the challenge. If you are relatively new to the vegan lifestyle it might be best to read/scan the whole thing through once before beginning and then review the daily chapters along the way.
Doing It the Right Way
As with any diet or nutritional change, it’s possible to do it in a way that might not have you seeing the positive changes you’re looking for. Fortunately, Patrick-Goudreau encourages you to pursue nutritional whole foods on your journey rather than turning to unhealthy vegan options. Truth be told, there are plenty of foods (i.e. chips, vegan cookies, etc.) that don’t technically contain animal products but they won’t contribute to you achieving a healthy body and mind. The benefit of this book is it constantly provides you with healthy recipes made up of natural, whole foods so if you stick with its recommendations you’ll be consuming meals and snacks that contribute to your overall well-being.
Making the Change
A huge bonus with this book is Patrick-Goudreau puts together a list of weekly menu ideas at the end. A quick glance through it and you can easily map out a menu plan for the 30-days. There are also some lovely colour photographs throughout the book so you can visualize just how appealing vegan food can be. Long story short, if you’re at all interested in the vegan lifestyle, you will gain a lot from reading The 30-Day Vegan Challenge.