Our annual World Vegan Month offer to friends and family: Go totally vegan for 2 weeks, or eat a vegan lunch and/or dinner for 4 weeks, and we (actually Susan) will bake you a batch of her award-winning Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies or Vegan Apricot Pecan Cookies! The challenge must start any day in October (World Vegetarian Month) or November (World Vegan Month). Those who are already vegan or vegetarian could get a non-veg friend to do it, and they EACH got their own batch of cookies!
One rule: You can’t be a junk food vegan. You don’t have to be a health nut, but you must make an effort to eat a varied healthy diet that includes vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.
TWELVE of our friends tried the challenge in 2012. Some challenge takers from previous years encouraged their loved ones to join them. One of Susan’s friends did the challenge by herself in 2010, and with her husband in 2011. Then in 2012, their high-school son and elementary-school daughter agreed to join them!
Another friend did it for two years with her college-aged daughter (who remained vegetarian after the challenge and became an active member of her university’s Animal Rights Club), and the two of them got their high-school son/brother to try it in 2012. Susan recently had dinner with them, and they said that even now, almost a year later, he still seeks out meat-free meals!
The challenge included both moments of joy and some mishaps. One person was thrilled to find out that most wine is vegan. Another friend did her happy dance when she found out that dark chocolate is vegan. Among the things that people confessed to mistakenly eating during the challenge was an egg roll, “one small bag of Doritos”, and half a jar of Nutella. Susan of course gave passes to these people, stressing the challenge is about progress, not perfection.
There were two films that we loaned out this year that seemed to have an impact on quite a few people. One was Vegucated, an award-winning documentary that followed three meat-and-cheese-loving New Yorkers who attempted to go vegan for six weeks. It’s one of our favorites because it is a great balance of entertaining, informative, and touching. The other one was Forks Over Knives, another very powerful award-winning documentary that covered how diet directly affects health, especially when it comes to maladies such as cancer and heart disease.
In mid-December 2012, one of our friends who had been thinking about trying the vegan challenge told us that she would try it as soon as the holidays were over. That evening she watched Vegucated with her husband, came into work the next day and said she they were both giving up meat immediately. They are still a veg-strong family today. Both their elementary and middle-school sons are veg when they’re at home, and often choose vegetarian/vegan options when they are at school or with friends. This friend passed on the DVD to other friends, one of whom also has remained vegetarian since watching it.
But the thing Susan was most excited about was that her own mom and dad agreed to watch Vegucated and Forks Over Knives over the holidays. In December 2012, they both switched from dairy products to almond milk and vegan butter! Susan was so happy because after several years of helping friends eat healthier, she was able to help her own parents on their way towards better health.
We are extremely grateful to the many vegan companies who once again offered us coupons (some even for free items) to give to friends taking the challenge. And we are truly appreciative that these coupons were given to us with no strings attached. Not a single one of these companies asked us for anything in return. We are already so grateful that they are creating products that are making it easy for people to eat less animal-based foods, so this generosity is just icing on the (vegan) cake.
A huge THANK YOU to: Gardein, Earth Balance, Soyatoo, Whole Soy and Co., Follow Your Heart, So Delicious/Turtle Mountain, Daiya, Field Roast Grain Meat, Larry and Luna’s Coconut Bliss, Pacific Natural Foods, and Upton’s Naturals for all the coupons they sent us to share with challenge takers!
We’re happy that four years later, our friends are interested trying our challenge. There are several of you that have been on the fence for the past two or three years (you know who you are), and we are hoping you will give it a try this year!
Peace and love to all who live,
Ryan (& Susan)