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Entering the Challenge

What if I am already vegetarian?

How about trying a vegan challenge or a mostly vegan challenge?

What if I am already vegan?

That’s great! How about getting a friend, partner, or family member to try it. Inspire them to give it a shot and support them on their journey. Or maybe you could try a week eating entirely organic or locally-grown food. Tell us how it went. What foods did you discover? Which ones couldn’t you find?

How do you know we really went veg or not?

We don’t… but we trust you! Besides, all the prizes are vegetarian-related, so a committed meat-eater would not likely want to win any of them.

How are the winners selected?

After every year there will be a draw of prizes for those who have completed the Challenge, fill out the final survey and share their experience. Winners are determined using a random number generator. See the Prizes page for details.

What if I want to go longer than one week?

Awesome! There is an option to continue called Phase 2 that goes for three more weeks. We will send you three emails per week (11 all together) with menu plans and recipes along with tips and encouragement. There is no cost to participate.

May I enter a second time?

No problem, you can easily change your start week and get the daily emails a second time. Or come back at a later point and do the Veggie Challenge again. As far as completing the Veggie Challenge and being eligible for prizes we will count one entry per person per year. You can also do Phase 2 of the Veggie Challenge (3 more weeks).

What do you do with my email address and other contact information?

We are a registered charity and do not engage in trading or selling your information. E-mail communications will always include an identification of the sender and an “Unsubscribe” option. We will only contact you about information that you have signed up for. See our privacy policy at veg.ca for full details.

Eating vegetarian

What about fish? Do I have to give up seafood as well as meat for the week?

Yes. Our definition of vegetarian also means not eating seafood. There are many excellent reasons to forgo foods that involve killing fish. The oceans are being overfished, coral reefs are being destroyed and sensitive sea floors are getting raked with drag nets. Many species are threatened, including dolphins, seabirds and turtles that get snagged in the nets. Also fish feel pain, they just lack vocal chords to express it. You can still enjoy seaweeds (such as nori and dulse), and flax oil is an excellent source of omega-3.

What about leather?

Don’t worry. For the purposes of the Veggie Challenge, we aren’t requiring that you change your wardrobe. People become vegetarian for different reasons and some draw the line at food. Some go a step further and stop wearing leather, down or wool. Others continue to wear such clothing until it wears out, then they replace it with animal-free alternatives. See our veg.ca’s Leather & Alternatives page for more information.

What about honey?

Honey is vegetarian but not officially vegan. For the purposes of the Veggie Challenge, we aren’t too concerned if your trial vegan diet included honey or not. The focus should be on avoiding eggs and dairy as the modern production of these foods is extremely inhumane and environmentally damaging. If you would like to avoid honey, it can be substituted with maple syrup, rice syrup or agave nectar.

I am not fond of vegetables and beans

Margaret wrote us: “I am keen to try a new way of eating, especially since I’m not happy with the way we treat our feed animals.  However… I am not fond of vegetables per se and don’t like the texture of whole beans very much.”

Vegetarian cuisine can be very diverse. Lentils, tofu, mock meats and tempeh make a nice protein-rich substitute for beans. Whole grains, nuts, seeds (sesame, hemp, pumpkin, etc), soy milk, eggs and dairy products are also high in protein. See veg.ca’s Nutrition page for more information.

Tip: If you live in a large city do a google search for a vegetarian buffet restaurant where there will be many vegetarian items to sample. Once you find some dishes you like, you can search the internet for recipes.

I am concerned about eating too much soy

Being vegetarian does not mean you have to eat tons of tofu and other soy products – there are lots of protein-rich plant foods – from lentils and beans to whole grains and nuts. When you sign up for the Veggie Challenge you can choose an option to avoid soy.

But soy has been getting an undeserved bad rap lately – some internet articles are linking soy to things like thyroid problems and hormone imbalances. Yet many soy foods have earned the right to be labeled “heart-healthy.” They may also make your bones stronger, and they contain cancer-fighting compounds. A balanced approach might be to limit intake and/or focus on fermented soy foods such as tempeh, miso and soy sauce.

Bottom line: Based on the bulk of the evidence soy appears to be safe for nearly all healthy individuals when it is consumed in reasonable amounts (two to three servings per day).
See www.veganhealth.org/articles/soy for more info.

How do I get enough iron, protein, calcium, etc.?

Plant-based foods are loaded with nutrients including ample protein, iron, calcium, vitamin D, iodine, omega-3 fatty acids, and zinc. Vegans require a reliable source of vitamin B12, but your body stores a one to five year supply, so you will be fine for a week. The key to health is simple. Include a wide variety of different foods in your diet – no one food source is nutritionally complete by itself. See veg.ca’s Nutrition page for more information.

It is the position of Dietitians of Canada and the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate and provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.

More FAQ’s

For more questions about vegetarian and vegan diets check out the FAQ’s page at Veg.ca. The questions include:
• Isn’t seafood healthy?
• Animals kill other animals for food, so why shouldn’t we?
• What will we do with all the chickens, cows, and pigs if everyone becomes a vegetarian?
• If everyone became vegetarian, many animals would never even be born. Isn’t that worse for them?
And many more.

Where to find support and discuss vegetarian topics

Jose who took the Veggie Challenge wrote us: I joined a few vegan/vegetarian support groups and quickly found a few friends to advice and support me in this transition period from regular food to vegan.”

veggieboards.com
Discussion boards covering all aspects of vegetarian and vegan lifestyles. Very active. Forums, personals, recipes, photos and more.They describe themselves as:”The largest and most active vegetarian forum online!” Members: 50,539.

vegsource.com
Discussion boards on a wide variety of topics, including different age groups, food and recipes. Very active.

VegWeb.com
This site’s main focus is recipes, but they also include support for transitioning to a vegan, vegetarian or raw food diet.

There are also several on Facebook. If you are a member of these social networks, just search for “vegetarian” or “vegan”. And be sure to check out our Veggie Challenge Facebook page.

  • Beverly Gaßner

    The recipes for this challenge are really elaborate. It’s a good thing there are so many prepared substitutes for homemade sauces. During this challenge I am working every single day, with little time left when I get home to cook, clean, parent and do anything for myself (that is, if I am indeed even home in the evening). Looks like it’s mostly raw food eating for me. The change from vegetarian to vegan means that I’m omitting quick fixes like egg and cheese on a whole wheat English muffin. I’ll be saving the recipes for special occasions, when I have time to wash/cut/measure/cook.

    How does anybody find the time to prepare food in your busy lives?

    • Steve McCann

      Hello Beverly,

      Thank you for your comment. It looks like no one replied to you earlier, I’m very sorry for this. This is certainly a good point and something we all struggle with. It’s a goal of the challenge to help share information and nurture a community to share information for these types of issues.

      A few thoughts I have on it – part of the difficulty is the learning curve in associated with new recipes and meals. I’ve found with time I can get quicker at washing, chopping, cooking things.

      A few general points I can think of to save time:
      * cook larger quantities of things and keep it in the fridge. For example – large pot of rice, soups, stews, or in general try to make bigger portions.
      * streamline processes when possible. To wash fruit/vegetables I throw them into a big bowl and fill it with water. Shake it around a few times, then pull out the vegetables. I’ve also gotten pretty quick at cutting things.
      * plan meals out in advance – think about what you want to make the next week and buy the ingredients, etc. Of course this is what we’re all trying to do, but I think this can get quicker/better over time, and it’s like a muscle that’s getting stronger/quicker with use.

      Some of my quick recipes, which are also usually easy to make bigger quantities of:
      * roasted veggies – sweet potatoe is one of my favourites. Give it a quick rinse, chop it up and throw it in the oven. Works for many things.
      * rice – wash and leave it to cook
      * beans – soak, rinse, leave cooking for a while with some spice
      * soups – I think these get quicker as you get more used to making them
      * salads – pretty much just washing the veggies
      * salad dressings – in a jar, mix olive oil, balsamic vinegar, some lemon juice and soy sauce. Shake a few times.
      * sandwiches – with avacado, tempeh, hummus (you can buy or make it)
      * fried tofu, tempeh
      * fruit and nut trail mix
      * granola (with seeds, yogurt, nuts, etc)

      …those are some off the top of my head. If you happen to read this, you can let me know how you’ve been making out. I’ve also heard of some busy moms doing something called “Once a Month Cooking” where they would prep stuff and freeze portions. I haven’t tried it but there’s some communities dedicated to these time-saving hacks!

      How do these things sound?