For all who would like to go vegan but who don't know where to begin, there's now a comprehensive multimedia guide that breaks it down day by day. The 30-Day Vegan Challenge, created by vegan chef and author Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, is a guide that includes audio, video, and written resources in bite-sized chunks, delivered daily to your email inbox so you can take your vegan experiment one day at a time.
Colleen Patrick-Goudreau wasn't raised vegan or vegetarian, but her family taught her from a young age to respect all living things. "My parents encouraged me to love animals. I was taught that this relationship was so special and important," she said. "And yet I grew up eating everything that walked or swam or flew. It created this split and this contradiction in how I viewed animals, and the fierce compassion I was born with became dulled."
The mainstream behaviors and attitudes toward animals are extremely confusing, Patrick-Goudreau pointed out. "If a child is not kind to animals, we know it's a danger signal that the child is very troubled," she said. And yet we give kids the message that passive violence toward animals and eating of animal flesh is just fine.
Patrick-Goudreau ate meat for all of her young life, but she often felt guilty about it. "That guilt forced me to make excuses to enable me to keep doing it."
When she was 19 years old, however, she read Diet for a New America, the best-selling book by John Robbins, who was heir to the Baskin-Robbins fortune before he renounced the family business and became an evangelist about the negative effects of the dairy and meat industries on animals, the environment, and the health of consumers. Her compassion was reawakened, and she made the transition to vegetarianism and ultimately veganism. "And the new compassion I developed was almost more valuable than what I'd felt as an innocent child, because it was the informed compassion of an adult. You know the choice you have, you know that the right choice is not the easiest one, and yet you choose compassion."
Patrick-Goudreau is now the author of five successful books on the vegan kitchen and lifestyle. She also hosts a popular podcast on plant-based food, stars in her own vegan video guides, and teaches sold-out cooking classes. She created the 30-Day Vegan Challenge to take the guess-work out of going vegan.
The program delivers new web-based content to the user every day, including simple recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner, usually using foods that are already in most people's kitchens, and audio- and video-based how-to guides. Some of the topics Patrick-Goudreau covers include how to stock a vegan kitchen, navigating the grocery store, checking food labels for vegan-friendliness, dining out vegan-style, and how to make veganism affordable. Again, these little lessons are delivered once per day, making the new information easy to digest, so to speak.
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On the other hand, if the "vegan challenger" has the time and curiosity to learn more all at once, there's a tab labeled "resources," under which common questions and concerns are addressed. Examples of these include "Recommendations and Food Sources for B-12," "How Much Protein Do We Need?" and "Aren't Humans Designed to Eat Meat?" In other words, the site is a one-stop-shop stocked with all the tools one needs to go vegan in an informed and graceful way.
Joining the challenge costs $20 for the month. You can buy it for yourself and have your blood work done before and after the 30 days to get a glimpse of the health benefits a vegan diet affords. Or you can give a subscription as a gift if you've got friends who are vegan-curious or whom you'd like to nudge in the vegan direction. Candidates for heart disease or cardio-vascular ailments might be particularly good targets for the healthy gift. "When you stop putting animal foods in your body, you stop clogging your system with things that decrease blood flow. Most ailments arise because blood wasn't flowing where it needed to go," Patrick-Goudreau said.
"The biggest hurdle people have when they attempt to go vegan is that they remove the familiar foundation from their diets but they don't replace it with something else. With this program, you can do it for 30 days, and in that time I will guide you on how to use familiar foods that are already vegan, and I'll also introduce you to some delicious new ones," Patrick-Goudreau said. "It's not about what you lose, but what you gain - a new paradigm, a new perspective, a new and connected way of being in the world, and physical health."