Hi, it's Veronika here!

I'll cut to the chase, as it's obvious from the title - I've decided to go sugar-free for a month. The whole month of July I will touch no refined sugar. Probably not even xylitol, which I've been using for a while as I was never a fan of white refined sugar anyway.

The reason was quite simple, I just feel like I could use a break from sugar. I'm healthy, reasonably fit, with no major addiction to sugary stuff, yet still, I think it wouldn't hurt to avoid sugar for a while.

I've been vegan for a couple of years now, so it'll be interesting to see how this fits in with my lifestyle, which, as you can see from the pictures below, is quite simple, lots of whole foods ready to be prepared from scratch, we bake our own sourdough bread and of course the vital part of any vegan diet (at least for majority of vegans =) - hummus - this we make from scratch too, so no problem with added sugar there.

Anyway, I was never into sweets (so it was also easy for me to switch to veganism), I enjoy rather savory snacks - crisps and so on, so I think I won't miss much this month - but one never knows, sugar is hidden almost everywhere in processed food!

I'm expecting at least one benefit from my decision to keep away from refined sugar this month: it will spare me the difficult decision I have to make sometimes when it comes to choosing whether or not to buy the delicious vegan donuts they bake in our local bakery literally a minute from my home! =) So no donuts for me this month!

I'll be keeping a brief diary throughout the month so if you fancy reading my progress, check in here and stay in touch!

DAY 1 (July 1)

The decision to go sugar-free happened at night, when I couldn't fall asleep, as it was so hot - heat waves in the UK are always so weird to have and definitely don't make me crave sugars, so I was happily having some of my sourdough bread for breakfast with a bit of vegan margarine, nothing much for lunch and not sure what am I gonna have for dinner. Probablya nice veggie stir fry, as I'm well stocked from our last shopping.
I wondered what processed food I have already in the kitchen I can eat. Surprisingly for me, there is this Indian spicy curry paste with no added sugar - so I can make curry with it and don't have to make EVERYTHING from scratch. Also, sometimes, I eat all these veggie burgers and various vegan meat alternatives and from what I have in the freezer at this moment, some of it also doesn't have added sugar. Hooray! I may have a quick burger when busy and also don't have to make it from scratch =)
I was also worrying what to do if I would at some point be craving some sweet stuff. And I've remembered, that I can make pretty cool raw vegan dessert made of dates, walnuts, cashews and fruit... I'm gonna do it definitely at some point this month and will add the recipe as well =)

My kitchen is ready for this challenge without too much preparation - so maybe it won't be a challenge at all! (Well, that would be too optimistic. Just today I had to refuse a vegan ice cream offer... But I said I'm starting today..!)

I will be back later with more updates about my progress. Btw, there is our homemade chocolate vegan cake and homemade vegan honeycombs (SO full of sugar!) in our freezer, fresh from yesterday family dinner, so I just hope I will not be tempted! =)

Also, I'm thinking, now I will have to be super cautious if I eat out... well, not that I would be eating out very often, but I should remember that - I guess - there will be many meals with added refined sugar out there. I'm watching you, sugar!

DAY 4 (July 4)

So far no big struggle. I must say I was thinking about my weakness, vegan donuts, but just for a little while. And probably just because I decided that I definitely won't have it for at least a whole month when I'm eating sugar-free.
More interesting was the realisation, that I'm now really on a different diet than my partner. We're both vegans and we keep saying how cool it is, that we don't have to be checking the food the other one prepares. But now I see what people in partnerships with different dietary choices and needs experience. I was three times asking my partner last night whether he checked all his ingredients in the dinner he was cooking for us. Because he's not taking this challenge with me. He checked. But I probably would keep asking even at the end of the month. Can't imagine how would it be, if I'd be sugar-free forever and he won't. Or one of us was vegan, but the other wouldn't. That would take a lot of effort to relax and believe that as well as you will not make mistake, the others preparing your food won't either and don't ask every time about ingredients.
So I'm half-way through the first week, munching on homemade lentil-potato-broccoli soup (yes, that's something I would eat normally too, I love broccoli) and homemade sourdough bread. Still easy. Btw, orange juice is very sweet, so I'm quite happy, but I'm also having frozen bananas ready should I feel then need for an ice-cream. It makes great refreshment in this crazy hot weather - especially with lemon.

DAY 8 (July 8)

Over a week on a suger-free diet. And by no means a fat reducing diet. I mean just sugar-free eating =) Recently I realised that I may not enjoy my latte at my family (they have this posh coffee machine which can make espresso and fluff the milk the way I like it - that's practically the only way I enjoy coffee with vegan milk). Because I always have it with a bit of sugar. Or agave syrup or somehow sweetened. And I aim to avoid the whole July not only white refined sugar, cane sugar, brown sugar,... but also sweeteners (like xylitol, which I generally use at home instead of sugar when needed, here and there) and syrups - I wanted to stay on fruit sugar only (while actually eating the fruit) and that's about it.
But the second time I had the coffee, I enjoyed it more than before. I think I can adapt quite quickly to sugar-free coffee. If so, I may keep that after July on my list =)
Yesterday I went to visit a friend and later that day met also another one. First one was at their home. That's easy because I learnt that here in England it's quite unusual to actually prepare any snacks for the visitor, unlike in the Czech Republic, where I am from - where the table generally must be full of food and drinks when visitors arrive =))
Second friend meeting was out in the town. I thought that may be a bigger issue, although we usually go for coffee, not for a meal, so I ended up with the easier option and had iced-water only (still crazy hot here, a lot of ice needed!) with an explanation why am I not having our traditional coffee. I'm used to drinking water only anyway when out because I don't drink alcohol, so when meeting friends in a pub, water it is. (Not a fan of over-priced in-house juices either =)
Therefore my visits when sugar-free went quite ordinary for me. Still not convinced to go out for a meal anytime soon - I won't probably trust anyone that they know their list of ingredients so well to tell me whether there is actually sugar included (sneakily hidden in a sauce or something similar). When eating out, there are still quite problems to be safely eating vegan, even though when it's now becoming quite a standard to have handy book of ingredients with clearly detailed vegan variants of the menu, but still - nobody probably has this ready for us, sugar-free people (I know, diabetic people would know better than me, but I want to stay off sweeteners too...)
Also, I felt today, like I wanted some dessert (probably because my partner was up to have some). I ate banana. Happy and satisfied =)

DAY 13 (July 13... Friday, haha =)

I'm starting to think this isn't really a challenge for me at all. Nothing interesting in my diet is happening when not eating white/refined sugar or synthetic sweeteners (and still not even my quite a friend xylitol which feels very natural to me, so I'm ok to generally use it when I really need to sweeten my porridge or coffee when not being sugar-free like this month).
It seems like more struggle to my partner, who I still keep asking about every suspicious ingredient whether he checked. Once he thought I had accidentally sweetened soy milk. It was just enhanced a bit with some apple extract. It was just leftover and I checked. But I'm happy to use unsweetened almond milk (the most usual one we buy) to not to feel like I'm cheetin' =)
So I was thinking I can take another challenge next month, was thinking about soy - wow! That would be something because as vegans we rely on soy a lot (luckily not allergic to it, neither one of us). My partner didn't like the idea, as that would be restricting him even more than my sugar-free challenge. I understand. I may take it only as a research and just make notes how much soy we use in our everyday dishes and how would we need to replace it IF I'd taken such challenge. Which I probably won't for the sake of my partner, who is an amazing cook and I don't want to make it difficult for him when not necessary.
Back to the sugar! Well, actually, there's no sugar. I was looking at a jar of jam recently, thinking, how full it is of sugar and how I like jam, but was always thinking whether it could be done without sugar. Or with just a very little amount. Not like a half jar of sugar... Anyway, with blooming summer, I've been stuffing myself with wild blueberries (well, just very few), raspberries (way more) and expecting any day to go for blackberries hunting... Those are more precious to me than jam.

DAY 17 (July 17)

I'm continuing to eat my normal food and just avoiding those pre-made with added sugar (such as some vegan burgers/sausages/mock meat and sauces, those latter I eat very rarely, so no big deal). When I cook my own meals from scratch, which I do way more often than using pre-made, I never use sugar willingly. Unless it's a dessert. Even there I tend to use xylitol or agave syrup etc.
It seems like all goes really smoothly here. Yet, I felt a bit of struggle a couple of days ago when we went to do our bigger shopping - I realised that I'd like Alpro yogurt (simply the only easily available vegan yogurt) - and it's all only with sugar. I wonder whether there's a vegan sugar-free (and I mean also sweetener-free) yogurt out there. Or whether I can make my own yogurt. My mum used to make homemade yogurts, but those were dairy ones and I'm not sure if it would work with a vegan alternative. Well, that may be a challenge for my beloved one who made most of the meals in our household aka The Primary Consumer =)
Anyway, in the meantime, no yogurt for me...
Porridge and coffee taste all alright even without sugar now (well, I mean in that case without xylitol as I haven't used sugar in porridge or coffee for a very long time...)

DAY 23 (July 23)

I feel like I'm so behind. I had some busy days so I couldn't write more details about my sugar-free challenge last few days.
Although, nothing major has happened... Only I've discovered, that the maltodextrin takes place in some foods, which my beloved partner, who happens to not to be part of my challenge, but helping me with it by passing on his nutrition knowledge, has categorised as a sugar alternative. So I'm not eating these. Which are in some savoury snacks. Well, nothing to worry about, less calories and nutritionally empty foods for me =) Yet, I love savoury snacks, so I'm no so happy about it. Just the health side of it is in my favour.
I'm close to my full sugar-free month and I'm thinking about next steps, which leads me to think about other pledges people take. Such as being a vegan. For me, it's not a pledge at all. It's just a lifestyle I adopted instantly after learning the huge environmental impacts and issues of animal agriculture. But I will go further in this thinking in some next article - how I can now better reflect people's dietary and lifestyle choices based on (lack of) reasons valid for them.
Btw, I feel more pressure towards the end of the month, to have some ice-cream (sure, vegan only =) or the cake, still waiting in the freezer... It's mostly caused by the fact that everyone else around me eats sugar. So yes, as I don't have more than a curious-based reason to cut on sugar for a while, lack of like-minded people around me is not helping here at all...

DAY 26 (July 26)

I forgot to mention there's one big thing I can see as a struggle when going sugar-free. Bread. I mean at least the bread I would usually buy here in the UK in the shops if I wouldn't be making my own sourdough homemade bread. There's sugar or caramel or something sugary in all those packages loaves of bread. Why? It's not supposed to be sweet. Really, it's bread, not a muffin =)
So in the rare times, when I was eating at my family place and there was not a homemade bread at that time, I eat some grain crackers. Yes, it's good, why not. But they were wrapped as a pack of four in plastic... Errrr, why?!
Sugar-free and also plastic-free simply doesn't go really well... no, it does, you just have to be prepared. And I was not expecting to not to have access to homemade bread (they have it usually there nowadays too - my partner and I are good role models for our families). But there's no excuse, to eat sugar during my sugar-free vegan challenge if I'm not starving to death. And I wouldn't be, obviously. I can always stuff myself with fruit and keep going. Lucky me =) Few more days on sugar-free lifestyle diet to go... Then - we'll see.

DAY 29 (July 29)

A busy weekend behind me. A friedn's birthday/housewarming party and a family dinner. How did I survive sugar-free? Easy, I just didn't eat anything at the party (I could've eaten some snacks there but I didn't even want to) and because I don't drink, I didn't have to worry which alcohol may have added sugar. I prefer water and I still enjoy parties how about the family dinner? anyway.
And how about the family dinner? I talked to the family member, who was preparing the dinner, about my needs and explained what am I avoiding this month. So they made some part of the meal, which I could eat, separated and I brought some ingredients to finish the meal preparation and keep it sugar-free. Simple, easy, no problems.
I'm not really craving donuts, but I know things will be easier when I allow myself to have some added sugar in my meals again. Yet, I'm not particularly happy about it - let's say when it comes to food where added sugar is just weird - like savory snacks and sauces, bread, some vegan mock meat and so on. From August onwards, I may eat vegan yogurt, which is sweetened. I may eat vegan ice-cream and maybe some other vegan sweets. But I may be choosing more whether to eat food, where sugar simply doesn't have to be. I may choose vegan burger option without added sugar more often over the one where sugar is listed in some form as an ingredient. That makes sense to me.

DAY 31 (July 31)

Here we go - my last day of the vegan sugar-free challenge.
How did it go?
As you may have read throughout the month, it was quite a peaceful challenge. There were few moments, where being sugar-free was a bit tricky - like going out (especially eating out as you don't usually have a list of ingredients ready for you to read before ordering a meal) or simply reading labels of all premade food (in my case mainly vegan mick meat). Someone, who's used to eating more store-bought rather than homemade food, would probably struggle more, as there's sugar in various food - you'd be surprised. But I was prepared for that as well as I do a lot of homemade food anyway.
Overall, once you'll get into the habit of knowing what's sugar-free and what to eat instead of sweets (as I normally do - quite a lot of fruit for example), you're ok.

Being sugar-free reminds me strongly of being vegan. Respectively the change is similar: It may seems at the beginning like it'd be an annoying task, but it's easy to accomodate it. And it's healthy way of living too.

The conclusion - one month of sugar-free vegan lifestyle:

Would I carry on with sugar-free vegan lifestyle? Probably not 100%. Unlike reasons I have for being vegan, they are strong and resonate with me, being sugar-free has just a few reasons and not so strong for me to carry on.
I'm happy to be vegan and eat some sweets too. And I'm happy I tried this month to stay sugar-free and I can only recommend to you to do such detox as well sometimes =) I may repeat this again later too.

P.S. I really didn't crave any much normal sweets and desserts, so I haven't made the vegan raw cake - but as promised, I made it and you can finally find out more about the recipe and make your own!

Hi, it's Veronika, your vegan friend and content creator of Veronika Honestly (no, not my surname).
I'm mathemagician (making money as maths tutor! ?), a bit of an artist (well, trying to get back to art) and also animal and adventure lover.
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