the end of the 30 day vegan challenge

Yesterday officially marked the end of my 30 day vegan challenge! I am not going to lie, the last 30 days seemed quite long but I definitely learned a lot about myself by being a (temporary) vegan. I began the challenge with a 3 day juice cleanse with my fellow an avocado a day (AAAD) teammates. This was a great transition because all my meals were prepared for me in advance and so I assumed (na├»vely) that all my meals would be vegan. So how did I do? 

I am going to be completely honest: I failed. It was a lot harder then I had ever expected. The changes I had to make were minor compared to many others but it still requires a lot of thought into what you can and cannot eat and what is in every single thing you consume. For example, one of the juices on the cleanse had honey in it, which is a vegan no-no. My other 'cheat' was with Clamato juice as it contains fish clam broth. Even though I had a few small slip ups I did not consume any dairy, eggs or flesh throughout the 30 days. I definitely learned that making mistakes is all part of the learning process.

I am sure you all want to know how my energy was...well, it wasn't at its best. However, I am finishing up my final year before entering clinic, which means countless assignments and exams so I know this was ideally not the best time to do a vegan challenge (or any other major lifestyle change). I am open to trying it again in the summer when there are more options for fruits and vegetables and of course less studying!  Since I was feeling tired I contacted some of my vegan friends and asked them how they felt when they first became vegan and what foods they found really helpful. A good friend, Kim, told me that she relied on mock meat alternatives. Mock meats are often made of soy and I am personally, not the hugest fan of consuming it on a daily basis. One of my goals was also to maintain a whole foods diet, which mock meat is not a part of. Another problem with mock meat is that it is designed to taste like meat - another issue for me because I do not like the taste of meat (I know, I'm crazy!).

However, there were a lot of great changes I have made that I plan to implement indefinitely. I did not realize how many skin, hair and other cosmetics were tested on animals and/or contained animal by-products. I have switched all my cosmetics to brands that are cruelty free (just look for the bunny rabbit symbol on your products).  

Being aware of the amount of animal products and by-products that we consume (whether it be through food, clothing or cosmetics) is a great starting point. By making small changes that are maintainable and are a result of well-informed decisions, you will be much more likely to be successful in making long-term changes. These changes will have a positive impact on yourself, the environment and of course on the animals!

By definition, calling yourself a "vegan" requires avoiding ALL animal products or food.  I know I am not perfect in anyway and for some this may seem hypocritical, but I do not believe that making vegan-friendly choices needs to be all or nothing.

Here are some more changes I have made in my life, and ways that you can make a difference as well:
  • I obviously do not condone animal cruelty or animal entertainment. 
  • I do not support the wearing of fur.
  • I do engage in meat free Monday, every Monday. 
  • I do not support animal poaching. 

Thinking about the food choices you make everyday, because you do have a choice, can make a large impact. Becoming aware is the first step and implementing the changes that provide balance is the second.

This process was definitely a challenge that I recommend to each and every one of you. I had to learn how to make smarter choices and forgive myself when I messed up. If you know better, you will do better. You should always do things that make you happy, that challenge you and that make you grow as a person. Do not let other people’s opinions, or pop culture hype deter you from trying something new — or revisiting something old.

best in health,
kate kokoski

All images from


Anonymous said...

Well done! I admire you for challenging yourself and your motivation and don't worry about the slip ups you've definitely made me want to be more aware of the products I use as I am sure you did for others as well :)

J. Reid said...

Not an easy challenge! Good for you for attempting it!
I found Brendan Brazier's Thrive books helped me a ton when I started looking at a diet with less meat. So impressive that a professional athlete can compete as a vegan.
Keep it up AAAD

Kate Kokoski said...

Thank you! I appreciate all the support :)
I love the Thrive book it is a great resource - he is definitely a motivating man!


Kim said...

Fantastic that you gave it your best Kate! Going vegan is a BIG deal and slip ups are totally a part of the process. Yesterday I stupidly assumed a product was vegan (because it was based on a similar product that was) only to find out it had honey in it. No one is perfect all the time.
I think it's important that anyone who is seriously considering veganism as a permanent lifestyle should do it with a slow transition through vegetarianism first (much like the elimination diet in the Clean program). Doing it whole-foods-wise like you did definitely makes it even harder, but it is far better for you to avoid the processed stuff if you can. Those items really make the transition for meat eaters a lot easier.
If you do it again, make sure you let yourself eat out too. Check out Happy Cow for all that Toronto has to offer:

Kate Kokoski said...

Kim thanks for the great advice! I am definitely looking forward to making changes towards a more vegan diet and lifestyle. This challenge was a great way to begin the process. Thank you for the website - I will for sure check out a few of the restaurants!


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