There are so many different ways to identify how we eat. We can be: a vegetarian, a vegan, a pescatarian, a flexitarian, or an old-fashioned carnivore. 

At some point in my (almost) 20 years of life, I have been a little bit of everything which, I guess, makes me a flexitarian at heart. A flexitarian diet revolves around plant-based proteins (tofu, quinoa, and lentils) rather than animal proteins, but still allows room for them to be substituted in from time to time. 

Up until recently, I was hesitant to try a vegan diet. A vegan doesn't consume any animal products at all which meant no ice cream and no cheese. However, I find that eating meat leaves me eating the same thing all the time and it gets boring. So I decided to challenge myself to become a vegan for 21 days (and see if I would actually last). To anyone who is veg-curious or considering becoming a vegan, here's what I learned:

1. You can eat more than you think

I thought I wouldn't be able to eat anything, resulting in 21 straight days of being miserable. That wasn't quite the case. There are plenty of dairy-free options that exist and taste just as good as the original. My favorite was Ben & Jerry's Non-Dairy Peanut Butter Half-Baked ice cream but there are plenty of other great options in your local grocery store. 

2. Be sure to read labels very carefully

Despite some unexpected snacks being safe to eat, there are some foods that I assumed were safe but actually weren't upon reading the label. MorningStar Farms products are among that list. Even though they're veggie-friendly, they aren't exactly vegan-friendly. Most of their products are made with eggs, egg whites, or milk.

3. Make sure you're prepped and ready

Being a vegan can make eating outside of your house a bit of a challenge. Anytime I wanted to go to a restaurant, I made sure to look up the menu beforehand to ensure that I could actually eat there. Just looking for a quick bite on the go? No worries, there are vegan alternatives at your favorite fast-food restaurants too. 

4. Obviously, there are some health benefits

Going vegan has health benefits too, like increasing heart and bone health. For me, I not only felt better because I was making healthier eating choices, but I also noticed my skin getting clearer and starting to glow. 

5. Mom always said don't play with your food...

But if being a vegan taught me anything, it's that we should definitely be playing with our food. One of the most exciting parts of this whole challenge was experimenting with my food and trying things I never would have had before, like seitan or tempeh. There are so many different recipes to try that even your meat-loving friends would enjoy. 

Despite its difficulty, I enjoyed the challenge of being a vegan. So much so that, after a 2-week hiatus, I'm back at it. What can I say? Playing with my food is just too much fun.