The Vegan-For-a-Week Challenge—Join Us! (There’s a Prize.)

Hold onto your miso and get out your nutritional yeast because it’s time for another challenge, and this one is food based. Plant based, specifically. We’re introducing a twist on the Michael Pollan mantra:

Eat food. Not too much. Only plants.

First, a pep talk: Vegan food can be delicious! Ever eaten a cashew? How about a french fry, or an avocado, or a non-mealy tomato with olive oil and crusty bread? Even the humble, sturdy chickpea can be tasty if you prepare it right.

We’re big fans of meatless Mondays, and Mark Bittman’s “vegan before six” philosophy because we know eating a plant-based diet is better for the planet and because they reflect a reasonable and something-is-better-than-nothing approach to progress. And us? We’ve vacillated between veganism and “flexitarianism” (worst word ever) for years. So we’re going to do this one, too.

We know food is a deeply personal subject. Cost, convenience, politics, ethics, geography, spirituality, emotions, even our childhoods play a part. Like maybe you were told you couldn’t leave the table before you finished your pork chop, and so then when you were 13 and you had a cool camp counsellor who was a vegetarian, you decided to become one too (paging Siobhan!). Or maybe your mother liked to butcher chicken at the crack of dawn with a cleaver and so birds aren’t your thing (paging Alexandra!). Who knows.

We’re not trying to tell you what to eat the other 358 days of the year. But some time in the next two weeks, we want you to set aside 7 of them in a row to adhere to a vegan diet.

So join us. One week only.

The rules: No meat, no dairy, no eggs, no honey, no gelatin—no animal-byproduct edibles of any kind—for 7 days, some time over the next two weeks.

Instructions: Send one simple recipe or short description of a dish you made and loved to nomoredirtylooks (at) gmail (dot) com, with VEGAN in the subject line. It can be short, like: “Fried chickpeas with arugula, quinoa and a creamy avocado dressing.” If you are so inclined, you can share more.

Please include your first name and city of origin. (People always forget their city. Don’t forget your city!) We need all emails by end of day, Wednesday, April  20th.

Prize: We will post a whole bunch of the best recipes on our site, as well as on our Facebook page, which you should “Like,” of you don’t mind. We’ll also pick one winner at random to win a great prize from So Delicious, which makes coconut milk that we love in coffee and with cereal, not to mention unbelievably creamy ice creams.

Pretty please: Help us spread the word! Tweet it, Facebook it, scream it from the rooftops, and tell your friends to get on board with you. This only works if you guys are game. So be game.

The reason for the challenge: The burning planet. Also, it’s nutritious, and challenges are fun. And it’s especially interesting to see the changes in  perspective—and longer-term behavior—that come about when we try something new. (And if you’re already vegan, you can still share a recipe and participate.)

So who’s in?

Creative Commons Flickr picture from here

38 Responses to “The Vegan-For-a-Week Challenge—Join Us! (There’s a Prize.)”
  1. Rebecca says:

    I’m in! I’m already vegan diet-wise (although not as hardcore as some, I do use honey). So I’ll cut the honey and share a recipe.

    To clarify, is this specifically about what we eat, yes? Like, if I use a skin product that contains honey, does that count? Cutting honey is much harder cuz I love my honey for skin.

    And, technically, yeast is not vegan for hardcore vegans, so that would mean no beer or anything else that uses it like bread. I don’t count the yeast as non-vegan but some do. I’m not trying to be obnoxious, just clarify what we are doing. ; )

  2. comagirl says:

    I’ll give you one or two more incentives, (although I am not a vegan and unfortunately cannot participate – doctor’s orders). There has been a recent recall of turkey burger, not all turkey burger; only burger purchased at Sam’s Clubs, if I remember correctly. I believe the LA Times had an article on this Monday or Tuesday.

    The FDA recently announced their new webpage “”, I don’t know about you, but it is either high time they did this or a sign of how terrible our food systems are or both. I realize veggies are not immune to recall, but hopefully locally grown, organic veggies have a better chance of being cleaner.

    Anyone out there who wants to join the vegan challenge, I recommend the cookbook “Crank’s Bible”. Also, Mark Bittiman often posts his healthy recipes on Runners’ World.

    Cheers and good luck.

  3. Meredith says:

    This is perfect timing. I decided to cut out dairy and eggs from my already vegetarian diet a week ago. I’m on board!

  4. Amy says:

    I’m sort of too intimidated (no honey, no yogurt, no hot chocolate, no pasta (eggs?), no chocolate?)…
    BUT, I want to play and give it a try!
    Some of Michael Pollan’s books are on my “to read” list. I definitely agree about trying something new and seeing where it takes you… “Once upon a time I washed my face with honey and baking soda for the very first time…”
    I feel like I sort of need a few more ideas for breakfasts and a lunch/dinner.
    I’d take ideas here in the comments section if anyone is willing to share!
    Thank you!

  5. Aster says:

    Pollan’s line is “mostly plants”, he’s very much in favor of fish and has some less than kind things to say about vegetarians (along the lines of pitying their dreams of innocence/denial of reality, but envying their lack of moral dilemma: he goes on to call it hubris). I have issues with his standpoint: most people probably benefit from his advice, but I also feel that the whole eating of fish/killing our oceans thing is immoral.

    Diet-wise and otherwise: already vegan (although I am struggling with a serious shortage of vegan glue and paint, so for now I’m trying not to judge myself for using those). I just discovered a lovely low-fat coconut-lemon-bundt-type recipe. I will send it to you as soon as I get it written down. No pictures, you’ll just have to trust me on the deliciousness.

  6. Alice says:

    I’ll have a go. Why not?

  7. Alice says:

    I”ll have a go. Why not?

  8. All right – I’m in! Guess I’ll start after a trip to the market!

  9. CONGRATS everyone on going vegan!! The animals, planet, your body & wallet thank you ; ) My vegan lifestyle website is let me know if you have any vegan questions to keep you on track.

  10. I’m fascinated… but I can’t go there with y’all this time. I’m on an already no-fun restricted diet this month (trying to treat my migraines, tortured blog posts to come soon) that bans nuts (among other things including booze and chocolate). Dairy is basically the only fun I have left right now. And I can’t contemplate veganism without nuts. SIGH. But good luck! I’ll be watching with interest to see how everyone does!

  11. andreína (andre) says:

    I’m in! I’ll start Monday >_<

  12. Meredith says:

    For anyone having trouble thinking of things to eat, I’ve been finding tons of great recipes on vegan food blogs.
    One I really like is Post Punk Kitchen.
    Also, the website The Kitchn did a vegan week awhile back and have lots of helpful resources and great recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Just search the term “vegan” on the website.

  13. Kate says:

    When does this start?

  14. Siobhan says:

    We’re giving a two week window so people can psych themselves up. You can start today, or in the next week, but you need to complete your 7-day challenge before April 20th

  15. Beka says:

    I’ve been trying to be vegan-ish since I read The China Study in February. I still use honey and I have been very slowly working through all the meat I have in the freezer (I bought 40 lbs of chicken in December). Instead of doing meat every day for dinner, I have cut back to one meat dish a week. I figure I already have the chicken, might as well use it! But since changing my diet I have lost 18 lbs and it has been so easy! I don’t count calories anymore, I still eat until I feel full and I feel great! I’ll have to start the challenge tomorrow, I just had a pasta salad for lunch that had honey in the vinaigrette.

  16. Lynn Anne says:

    uhm…okay. I will need to totally plan out the week, though…and figure out how to fit it into the eating plan I’m already on. but I’ll give it a go. have been vegan-curious for a while ;)

  17. Lynn Anne says:

    ugg, quit it with not posting me because of the @$^#$T^ capcha! I’m writing what I see, dammit!!

    I am going to give this thing a go if you’ll take my post already!

  18. Genny says:

    …I’m glad you have given the “psych-up time”. I really want to try this, I have so many eggs and some yogurt in my fridge though, and as a college student I need to save what I have. Hopefully I will start in the next couple of days. Man, 7 days is a long time though. I’ve been a veggie for a few years (on and off), but I could never see giving up the dairy…it gives me another source of protein!

    I’m going to do some research and then begin…are there any websites out there you think might help in this challenge for those who are unaware of the vegan world?

  19. Siobhan says:

    @Genny I think we’ll post some ideas, but also check out Mark Bittman’s many free recipes online. He has a TON that are vegan!

  20. gretchen says:

    Already vegan, have been for years, but that means I have all sorts of recipes to offer! I second the PPK vote earlier. She’s always my initial go-to. However, I do have one salad that I make about 3-4 times a week and would eat everyday if I could. I initially got it from The Raw Chef, but have lazified it a bit from his recipe. It’s also nice because kale is tougher so you can mix it all up in the morning before you leave and it won’t be all wilty and gross by lunchtime, it will actually be better if you let it sit for a few hours! My non-vegan boyfriend goes absolutely crazy for this salad.

    Kale Salad with Avocado Chipotle Dressing

    half a bunch of kale
    sea salt
    1-2 tbsp olive oil or flax oil
    1-2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
    1 tbsp agave
    1 avocado
    chipotle powder
    nutritional yeast
    hemp seed

    1. Rip up the kale into bite size pieces. Sprinkle with a generous helping of sea salt and massage it in with your hands until it wilts a bit.
    2. Pour in your oil, acv, and agave, and stir it up [you can use a fork now.]
    3. Sprinkle on your chipotle powder [to taste], nutritional yeast, and hemp seed. Mix it up.
    4. Dice up the avocado and then mix it in with the kale mix.
    5. Slice up tomatoes [either one regular one or a couple handfuls of cherry tomatoes].

    You can also mix the oil through the nutritional yeast in a mini food processor to make a smooth dressing, but I usually don’t have the time or will to do that, as I have usually just thrown everything in a bag in the morning and assemble it at the studio.

    Yea, salad!

  21. Rebecca says:

    Amy, there are lots of ways to eat chocolate vegan…if you have a Whole Foods nearby look in their raw foods section for a great selection, or learn to make your own with coconut oil and cacao powder (add a sweetener like coconut nectar or agave or stevia if you like). Also, you can use any nut milk in place of cow’s milk. I make my own raw almond milk that is fantastic. But you can buy soy, hemp or various nut milks at the grocery store too.

  22. Steffie says:

    …. I’d love to join this one, but I can’t in good conscience while lactating (nor can I manage it easily in a houseful of adamant carnivores). However, I was on board with my parents for several months during a cleanse/purge phase of my mother’s a few years ago. They were raw vegans for a couple of months before slowly reintroducing various things back into their diet. Eventually they switched to a “vegan until Friday” approach and then just went to an organic/raw/kosher type combination diet that’s been working quite well. BUT – I’d be happy to share experiences from then, and some of the recipes I still like to fix on our meatless night during the weekly rotation – eight years later. Can that count?

  23. Kate says:

    Rebecca — I am so fascinated by almond milk. How do you make your own??
    (sorry if this is a dumb question!)

  24. Lea says:

    Hells yeah! I’m in! Definitely need to psych myself up for a couple of days (and stock my fridge a bit) before I start but I’m totally vegan curious and this is the perfect excuse to try it out!

  25. Rebecca says:

    hey Kate, not a dumb question at all…I sent the recipe to the girlz but here it is in case people want to try for the vegan challenge…

    Almond Milk
    – the best raw almonds you can get (truly raw only available from farmer’s market in many places, organic if you can afford it)
    – soak the almonds overnight, at least 12 hours
    – rinse the soaked almonds
    – 3 cups soaked almonds to 5 or 5.5 cups filtered water (adjust if you want thicker or thinner milk)
    – blend in Vitamix or other really spectacular blender, 30 seconds or less on high speed should do it
    – squeeze through a nut milk bag (try, or an internet search will turn up lots of other sources)
    – store in glass bottles/jars for a week
    – use for hot chocolate, cereal, in a cup of chai or other strong tea, awesome in smoothies

    If you don’t want to bother with the nut milk bag you can use a fine strainer and squeeze the milk through by using the back of a large spoon. This takes a lot longer but it’s a good start until you realize you love it so much you want to get the nut milk bag. Once the nuts are soaked, I can get 4-5 quarts made plus clean up in 45 minutes. Also, you can save the almond pulp for lots of other recipes, like raw vegan cakes/cookies.

  26. Kerala says:

    my roommate and i are gonna give it a try! but we have people in town soon and already have major plans to eat our way through portland… As vegan friendly as it is, it’s hard to resist all the delicious non-vegan possibilities! However, my roomie and I have decided, during our next big shopping trip, we will eschew animal products, and lock up everything else. we’re committed!

  27. Kris says:

    Awesome – I’m in!
    I did a 1 week cleanse a couple of months back and it basically involved a vegan diet.
    1 week, and a 2 kilo loss later, I felt fantastic! No bloating in the belly, and really clear in the head.
    Old habits crept back in however, as they do, and I am super keen to do it again.

  28. Gina says:

    I am practically vegan except for butter & honey.
    Can’t seem to part with those two, maybe I will give it a go.
    Why not, sounds like a fine 7 day challenge. I’ll do it!!
    One week, no butter.

  29. Ariel says:

    I’m going to give it a try. It’s something I’d been thinking doing about anyway.

  30. Sam says:

    Count me in! I’ve been a vegetarian for 28 years, but tho I’ve made it over to the vegan side of things (for 6 months or so at a shot) a few times in my life, I’ve mainly relied pretty heavily on cheese to make it through the day. :) Lately, however, I’ve been thinking strongly about whether I could transition to veganism, and have been doing a few deliberate/mindful “all-vegan” days throughout the week. This challenge is a great way to take that further. So I’ll give it a whirl, starting this Saturday.

  31. I’m in!
    Siobhan/Alex, when are you starting?

  32. Clemence says:

    Hi there!

    My colleague & I are going to try!!
    Kind of hard as we are coming from France and LOVE meat & eggs! But we ve just watched Food,Inc …. and have been a bit chocked by how the meat is processed and its impact on the planet….

    And we are going to start now!!!!
    Thanks for this challenge – really cool!

  33. Lynn Anne says:

    Starting day three today – after a couple of false starts, like milk in my coffee the first morning (oops – habit! lol) and a bite of challah (that would be the bread with the egg in it!) at the kids’ school, also the first morning…much better go yesterday and I’m now armed with new groceries and a new vegan cookbook. Next hurdle: the Rabbi is buying all us teachers lunch this afternoon…was originally planned to be middle eastern fare, like falafel and such, which seemed promising..but I was told a couple of days ago it might have been switched to kosher ‘sloppy joes’ instead…uhmmm…I think I’m packing just in case!

  34. Lynn Anne says:

    Amy – did anyone comment on your listing pasta?? Most pasta does NOt have egg in it, only a few varieties that I can think of (like egg noodles) – check labels and you should be good!

  35. Lynn Anne says:

    All right…last vegan-challenge meal this morning for breakfast (since I goofed up twice at breakfast the first morning..I am ending at lunch today instead! lol)

    Gretchen, that salad sounds great and I have everything in the house except for the agave (but I have brown rice syrup which I’m pretty sure wil be a fine sub) and the chipotle powder – what can I sub in for that?

    Used this week as an excuse to pick up Supermarket Vegan by Donna Klein – some yummy recipes, a couple less inspired. Loved the maple-orange-mashed sweet potatoes (though I added walnuts – it did need ‘something’, I thought) – and the tomato-parsley salad. Not an unusual recipe, except that I had no idea I liked flat leaf parsley as anything except an occasional basil sub for pesto….I am having it on salads and everything now.

    I ended up eating less this week, which wasn’t great – I spent some time hungry, because the main reason I was eating less is I would get caught without time to prep something, and my go-to grab-and-eat foods include cans of sardines or tuna, and chunks of extra sharp cheddar cheese. By the end of the week I was doing ‘better’ and eating more (and eating more fruits and veggies, too!) I relied very little on processed stuff like seitan (one meal) and fake vegan stuff (one meal). I relied a lot on my favorite condiment – nutritional yeast :). A great learning week. THANKS!

  36. mikerosss says:

    My cousin recommended this blog and she was totally right keep up the fantastic work!

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