The 30 Day Vegan Challenge

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“Role model” is not an expression I throw around lightly. In a nutrition community full of self-proclaimed “gurus,” I tend to believe that we’re each the best judge of what does and doesn’t work for our bodies; in a community full of “experts,” I don’t believe that any single book or opinion is the final word on nutrition science. The closest thing I have to “role models” are the men and women—cookbook writers, mostly—who made me fall in love with vegan food, and taught me to live compassionately.

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau is one of those women. The Vegan Table is one of my favorite cookbooks, and in spite of the fact that it is dog-eared, splattered, and generally worn down by my kitchen, I never cease to make and remake its recipes. Colleen’s food is simple, wholesome, and bursting with flavor. Her recipes are designed to satisfy the tastes of omnivores (or new vegans) without sacrificing health or relying upon a pantry full of faux-meats. Her perspective is balanced: healthy and whole foods oriented, but also appreciative of the sweeter indulgences in life (after all, she did write The Joy of Vegan Baking).

Colleen’s power as a figure in our community, however, goes far beyond her talents as a chef. If you know Colleen’s work, it’s probably because you know her famous podcasts, which have inspired countless men and women to take the vegan plunge. Having seen Colleen speak twice now (once at Vida Vegan Con, and once recently at Poplar Springs), I can tell you that she is simply one of the best public speakers around. She’s passionate, yet even-tempered; humorous, but capable of relaying the importance of animal rights issues. Most of all, Colleen exudes confidence and strength. It’s this confidence, and the fact that Colleen (an English lit major) is a superb writer, that make me admire her so deeply. Veganism tends to demand a little confidence building, and no one sets a better example than Colleen.


Colleen’s newest book is the 30-Day Vegan Challenge. When I first received a copy to review, my heart dipped: most “challenges” treat plant based eating like it’s the Zone Diet. This challenge is different. Colleen’s mission is twofold:

  1. To help prove to people that eating and living vegan for 30 days is within reach
  2. To help guide her readers through the challenges and difficulties of being vegan

The word “challenge” was chosen with more care than I initially realized. This is one of the first books that openly addresses the fact that veganism can be hard. There’s nothing more discouraging for new vegans than the slew of books that insist that veganism is “so much easier” than you’d think. Yes, for some people, veganism is surprisingly doable, and I was one of those lucky people. But I hadn’t eaten red meat in a long time, and I didn’t like cheese. For most people, the vegan transition is actually pretty tough, full of speed bumps, backsliding, and little mini-battles with cravings for old favorites.

These difficulties don’t mean that veganism isn’t worth it. It is unbelievably, amazingly worth it. It’s just like most worthwhile things in that it’s not a piece of cake. The best way of dealing with the challenges of a vegan lifestyle is to talk about them openly, so that we can deal with them efficiently; this is exactly where Colleen shines. From dining out to talking to family and friends about your lifestyle, Colleen is a fountain of insight and strength. I can’t recommend her words highly enough to anyone who’s facing this major lifestyle change with a little anxiety.

Of course, the book goes beyond all that, into recipes and lifestyle tips and all sorts of brilliant tutorials (“Tofu: It’s Just a Bean”). The book is worth it for the food alone. But recipes are not what makes this book invaluable: the food and practical guidance draws you in, but it’s the wisdom and strength that will keep you referring back, time and time again, as you embrace a compassionate lifestyle. And if you’re an animal lover, you’ll smile at the acknowledgments:

“My hope is that we can learn from the animals what we need to become better people.”

Do you want to take the 30-Day Vegan Challenge? You’re in luck, because I’m giving one lucky CR reader a free copy. To enter, you can do any of the following things; each will count as a separate entry, but you have to leave a comment letting me know you did it!:

  1. Leave me a comment telling me why you’d like to take OR read the 30-Day Vegan Challenge.
  2. Tweet about this giveaway, using the tweet: “@choosingraw is giving away a copy of @patrickgoudreau ‘s 30 DAY CHALLENGE! leave a comment letting me know you did.
  3. Like Colleen on Facebook.
  4. Follow @PatrickGoudreau on Twitter.
  5. Follow me on Twitter.
  6. Check out one of Colleen’s podcasts and tell me what you learned.

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Winner will be announced next Friday. I hate to do this, but US residents only, please—I’ve had some trouble with shipping copies internationally. Good luck, and get typing!!!

Happy Weekend!


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  1. I realize the contest is over for a free book, but I googled “raw vegan challenge” and your page came up and in exploring your website I am affirmed that taking on this lifestyle is going to be the key to changing my life. I am posting this tonight because I seem to have these revelations at night and wake up having lost the feeling/motivation and return to old habits. This is an attempt to hold myself accountable. Putting words out there for view by others will hopefully lead me to sticking with it. I have been a vegetarian since the age of 14 and this past summer has been the first time I seriously considered becoming vegan. I have been researching and watching Youtube videos about raw vegan lifestyle daily since July and this has made a remarkable difference already. Though I have not until now completely committed to this lifestyle, I have been making significant changes gradually and have already noticed a huge difference! I am beyond excited to see what the future holds for me once I begin implementing the lifestyle fully.

    I live in San Diego and work in the hospitality industry. I will soon be resuming classes that are leading me toward obtaining a certification to be a Drug and Alcohol counselor. I am going into this field because there is an often-overlooked/glossed over/misunderstood epidemic of substance addiction that is extremely detrimental to everyone in society in all kinds of ways. Also, addiction has affected me personally. I threw years down the drain being a slave to substances and eating disorders, which were intertwined for me, mutually feeding off each other.

    July 2011 I hit rock bottom and came close to death. I woke up in a hospital with no memory of the incident. I needed to do things differently and had to surrender to the fact that I could not overcome this on my own. The day I left the hospital I got myself into rehab, did some extensive inpatient and outpatient treatment over the next months as well as developing my own fellowship of support in 12-step meetings. However, I relapsed with another substance and it seemed to transfer focus to my eating disorder as I used this substance as an appetite suppressant in addition to the buzz. I’ve felt pretty miserable a great deal of the time, caught in the vicious cycle. In good news though, I began working with a holistic health coach who introduced me to many valuable tools and caused me to open my eyes to just how vitally important my eating habits and attitudes toward food are. And how critical a role my food intake plays in regard to happiness, mental health, spirituality, and overall well-being.

    Slowly but surely over the last three years I have been cleaning up the wreckage of my past and putting in place sometimes small but significant changes toward investing in a healthy “me. I have implemented many small changes and seen great results. I suppose I held back though on committing entirely, as I went on vacation and indulged in dairy. Now though, I feel this is it, I am ready to do this, start putting into practice what I’ve been learning about, and reaping the results. I look forward to connecting with others in some sort of online community and seeing others’ transformations and supporting and inspiring one another. This is probably not the platform but I needed to put something down tonight while viewing your page. I would welcome any suggestions for online communities of support. My work recently cut my hours so I am struggling financially just to make ends meet, but I will mention your book to my family/friends as a much-desired Christmas gift. I do much better at starting something new when I have a guide and your book appears to be just the thing I could benefit from. I will let you know how my transformation goes. I am so looking forward to experiencing the gifts of this lifestyle. Thank you for reading.


  2. Ok have left comment about why I want to be vegan and “liked” Colleen on facebook. Sorry dont know how to do the other entries like twitter so these are my two entries. Thanks for doing this.

  3. Hi I am leaving a comment thinking about the book. I am having so much trouble getting back to being vegan. I was vegetarian for 20 years and vegan for two of those. I never thought I would go back to meat and still can not believe I did. I think meat and dairy are addictions. I attribute my backsliding to strong medications that truly clouded my mind. I am now getting off of those medications and with my mind clearing up want to be vegan again. I also think that it will help me with the difficulty of detoxing off of meds.

  4. I am really all for veganism and I’ve tried but unfortunately never managed to become vegan. I have been a vegetarian for 7 years and mostly had no problems with that but veganism is bit trickier for me. I suppose it’s mainly because I find it really hard not to eat cheese…
    However, I would really like to give it a try again and be vegan for at least 30 days :).
    I also liked Colleen on Facebook.

  5. I just liked your facebook page! I am very intrigued by the vegan diet due to my intolerance of all things dairy. I’ve already been following vegetarian diet for the past three years, and would like to see if I am capable of going vegan altogether. As a full time student, and full time employee, I need a little more guidance on the “correct,” and healthy approach to such a lifestyle, and support that it is possible to do so, even with a busy lifestyle.

  6. Thanks for turning me on to those podcasts! I listened to the one about talking to hunters because I work with a man who likes to go hunting and I wanted to hear her take on how to deal with people who differ from you on such a basic level. I liked her mantra and how she talked about staying friendly and open. I naturally tend to get angry and I always have to remind myself to stay approachable when dealing with people who behave in ways that I find appalling.

  7. I’m glad she chose the word Challenge in the title, because you are right, it is hard to change all our in-grained habits. Especially when you are 63 and have always had meat or eggs at every meal. My husband thinks it is ridiculous to even think about a meal without meat, but he will eat whatever I put in front of him, so I’m trying to make vegan or vegetarian meals interesting. Not that easy when it means changing so much!! I will follow Colleen on Facebook and keep learning! Thanks

  8. I’ve tried the challenge before and didn’t make it very far, would love to try again with the help of this book!