06 January 2012

'The 30-Day Vegan Challenge' offers priceless guidance for those transitioning to veganism

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s 30-Day Vegan Challenge – A dual review by vegetarian, Alexandra Beane and experienced vegan, Ryan Leitch

I have read many books in my life, but there are few that have inspired me and interested me as much as The 30-Day Vegan Challenge. As a vegetarian who is interested in furthering my journey, veganism is my next step, and I will be so proud once I do get there. I hadn’t thought too much about the next step in my journey before reading The 30-Day Vegan Challenge, but Colleen Patrick-Goudreau helped strengthen my vegetarianism and taught me so much about the importance of becoming a vegan.

Colleen did an excellent job of showing me how important, yet how simple, it is to make the change from a vegetarian to a vegan lifestyle. Her recipes are absolutely fantastic (I especially loved the Carrot-Ginger Soup recipe, p. 226, and the Garlic and Greens Soup, p. 231). She does a great job at describing foods that I am unfamiliar with, and it makes me interested in trying them out for myself. Not only that, but you’d be surprised how many of the delicious products you consume daily are already naturally vegan.

For anyone who says they could never become vegan (or take the 30-day vegan challenge) because they simply don’t know how or think they’d starve during those 30 days, they’d be completely wrong. Each meal plan and serving suggestion is written out and made very easy to read and understand.

I will admit, before I read this book and learned more about being vegan, I was a little skeptical on my ability to give up dairy products. Giving up meat was easy for me, because it was not something I have ever enjoyed eating. I felt bad eating it, and the whole thought of how it got on my plate disgusted me. However, dairy allows us to put our blinders on, whereas with meat we see the finished product of a dead animal on our plates. It is disguised because it is the product of an animal, not the animal itself.

As someone who suffers from many food allergies and gets sick from eating dairy and many animal products, I can honestly say how bad consuming dairy is for a human. I have always thought it was just me that had sensitivities to dairy, but really, we are not even supposed to consume it, so of course I am going to have bad reactions to it. We don’t need to consume it in order to live healthily.

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau teaches us these important things in her book, and I am so glad I learned about them now. I don’t have to believe the lies I’ve been told my whole life, such as without milk our bones will become brittle. I can eat plenty of other things to get the calcium and other nutrients I need to be healthy. Most importantly, there are so many alternatives to my favorite things, such as cheese and ice cream, and they most likely won’t send me running to the bathroom after I finish eating them. Colleen teaches us which foods are most nutritious and what we should eat if we’re deficient in any nutrients. She provides a solution to every question that we may have thought about when considering a vegan diet.

Something I really enjoy about Colleen’s book is that she doesn’t discuss the dirty details about the meat industry—I think she assumes that we already know this and I find that a relief. It is hard for me to continuously hear about all the horrible things animals go through, because I’ve already been through that learning process and at this point, I don’t need any more persuasion to stop eating meat. Yes, I do think it is important that we constantly remind ourselves of the horrors of factory farms, but we also need to know when to move on and visit the next step -- which is doing something about it. Plus, the aspect about animal products that really turns me off the most is the horrible effects that meat and animal products have on our bodies, and I think that Colleen does an excellent job at getting that information out to readers.

Colleen is not judgmental in her writing, and she is not one-sided. She talks about what we can do on holidays when we are surrounded by meat-eaters, how to compromise, and what we can do when we live with a meat-eater. This information has been so helpful to me and it has shown me that just because we choose to say no to meat, or all animal products, we don’t have to cut out the people in our lives that choose to live differently than us. Yes, it is hard to witness the distress they are causing to their bodies, but we just have to let them learn on their own, like we did. Chances are, one day they’ll be interested and they’ll begin to do their own research. They just don’t want to hear it from us.

I know that veganism is in my future. At this point, I don’t know when that will be, but I know that I will gradually ease myself into this complete transition. Colleen lets us know that this is okay, that we don’t have to change overnight.

The 30-Day Vegan Challenge should show anyone how interesting, delicious and fun vegan cooking is. It’s not weird or boring, which some people may think, and there are so many new and great-tasting things to try. Most importantly, it’s a cruelty-free and healthier way of eating, and with each decision we make, we can feel good about it. I can only hope that others will read this book as well. This book is a great starting point for us all, no matter where it will ultimately lead us or how it will change the world.

As Colleen states, “Don’t do nothing because you can’t do everything. Do something. Anything.”

Alexandra Beane

When I went vegan several years ago, I initially decided that I would try it for thirty days. After the end of week two I knew that, while it would be a constant evolution as veganism permeated my entire way of living, I would never go back to my old, omnivorous ways. Before my personal thirty day challenge was even complete, I had found Colleen Patrick-Goudreau and what I’ve learned from her has dramatically altered every aspect of my veganism.

I was initially connected to Colleen through her podcast, Vegetarian Food for Thought, and was hooked on every word. Colleen’s way of presenting a whole-foods, plant-based diet is so refreshing and accessible and as an animal rights activist, I appreciate the subtle, non-judgemental ways that she’s able to weave in critical information about animal suffering without scaring her audience into ignoring the facts. As a long time fan, I’ve seen throughout her different mediums (podcast, videos, cookbooks, essays, etc.) the painstaking detail that goes into everything she puts her name on.

I had the opportunity to meet Colleen a couple years ago and she discussed some of the projects she was hoping to be able to accomplish, this book being one of them. Having known about the concept for this book for some time, I was extremely eager to find out how this book would turn out. While I had no doubt that it would be brilliant, I was excited to find out how she would be able to put the vegan experience to paper in a way that seemed like a fresh perspective and as usual, she did not disappoint. One of the unique challenges a long term activist faces is finding a way to relate to and engage the veg curious without coming across as arrogant or abrasive, something that many vegans struggle with every day. Colleen’s sparkling, joy-filled personality makes a reader (or listener) not only able to easily understand the dense material in which she’s educating on, but keeps her fans engaged and passionate about becoming joyful vegans themselves.

Although I managed on my own back when I made the transition, I can’t help but wonder how much easier things would have been if I would have had this step-by-step guide, holding my hand through the most difficult time in the process of becoming vegan. I think this book, along with its delicious recipes mark a time in history when it’s never been easier to go vegan (right along with the advent of Daiya and readily available rice-milk chocolate).

This book is the perfect companion piece, even for seasoned (ha!) vegans because it serves as a way to help friends and family understand why you’re making new kind choices in a way that won’t terrify them. If for no other reason, pick it up simply for the recipes. In my experience, that’s one thing vegans can never get enough of.

Ryan Leitch

Alexandra Beane | Facebook | Twitter
Minnesota Alexandra is a lover of all animals, but has a soft spot for especially dogs and rabbits. She believes that life is not complete without an animal to love. Alexandra is highly passionate about animals and animal rights, and wants to raise awareness of the cruelty that many animals suffer in the best way she knows how, and this is by written word. Alexandra is a recent graduate of Metropolitan State University in Minnesota, with a degree in Professional Writing and a minor in Creative Writing. She absolutely loves to write news and creative nonfiction, and obsesses over spelling and grammar.

Ryan Leitch
Minnesota Ryan is an abolitionist vegan activist and her passion for all things vegan consumes her. Animals are here with us, not for us. Her favorite outreach activities include writing and blogging, hosting movie screenings, tabling and leafletting, demonstrations, potlucks, and vegan drinks.

Photo credit: The 30-Day Vegan Challenge