The veggie challenge

Truc Nguyen + Helia Elahi // How can we live a more eco-friendly lifestyle? 

Helia Elahi’s veggie challenge

Veganism and vegetarianism are frequently mentioned lifestyle choices which could help the environment. The influences of meat and dairy on our greenhouse gas emissions are mostly accepted, but still vegetarianism and most of all veganism have come under criticism, quite likely because of the influence they might have on our body. Some people say it is unhealthy to refrain from animal products, others just like meat too much and others simply do not think about changing their nutrition. But is it really that hard (for your body and healthy) to go veggie?

The Idea

We have both always liked meat and dairy products and have no experience whatsoever when it comes to living a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle. So, we decided to find out how hard it really is to change our nutrition and challenged ourselves to be vegetarian for two weeks. We planned to take pictures of our meals and report our experience.

The Goal

We wanted to find out how hard it would be for someone who has always eaten and liked meat to become vegetarian. On the quiet, we also hoped that more people become open to the idea of vegetarianism and get inspired to challenge themselves.

What was it like?

Being vegetarian was surprisingly easy for me. Since my family does not cook much meat on weekdays, there were many dishes that I would have eaten anyways and other only had to be changed slightly. Many recipes that I found were even vegan, so by accident I was vegan for a couple of days. To be honest, there were also those days when I ran out of ideas on what to cook and felt a bit frustrated because it would have been easier to cook a meal containing meat. When it comes to my health or other habits, I did not feel any change. Of course, sometimes I would see my friends and family eat meat and food I really liked, and I have to admit it was hard to resist but once I got used to it, I was fine. I could see myself eat less meat or even going vegetarian for some time and think everyone should try it.

Truc Nguyen’s veggie challenge

During the first couple of days of being vegetarian I recognized that I had less energy than usual and that I was extremely tired when I came home from school. But since Homo sapiens is a ‘creature of habit’ I got used to my new diet after around a week. I also was very motivated to win my challenge and did some sports to keep fit.

However, to abstain from meat and fish also meant to be more self-reliant since my whole family eats meat daily. I often had to cook meals on my own, which was again a new experience for me. Although I sometimes got appetite for meat, I knew that I actually did not want to eat it anymore (at least for two weeks).

All in all, I would say this ‘veggie challenge’ was a great and useful experience, which I recommend to anyone who tries to live a more sustainable life. Personally, this challenge was very easy, but perhaps because I had been vegetarian for a very short time before. After these two weeks now, I still want to continue that lifestyle or at least eat less meat.

So, try it out!