BEEF Daily

Could You Go Vegan For Two Weeks?


Two meat-lovers ditch all animal products for a two-week vegan experiment.

You can’t understand a person until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes, the old saying goes. It’s an adage that can be applied to our conversations with our vegetarian and vegan counterparts, who have foregone animal products in their diet for a multitude of reasons. While we are sometimes polar opposites, it’s the 95% of folks we need to appeal to -- those who are on the fence about eating meat in their diets and feeling good about it.

Nevertheless, I’ve always been tempted to go vegan for a week or two just to see how it feels, but I’ve always been hesitant to ditch the healthy amino acids, complete iron source, and plentiful protein source that beef provides me. More than that, the thought of eating gobs of peanut butter, beans and tofu to compensate for that lack of a powerful protein source like beef doesn’t sound appealing to me at all.

Braver than I are two meat lovers, Danielle Beard and David Hayden, who tossed their beloved burgers, bacon, leather boots and cosmetics in order to complete a two-week vegan challenge they started on Jan. 14.

You can read their experiences in the next two weeks at and

Also, follow the Twitter hashtag at #DandDgovegan

A two-week experiment is hardly long enough to give credit to, or discredit, one diet plan over another. After all, anybody starting a diet is usually still going strong in two weeks, making smarter choices by skipping boxed meals and sugary sweets, so weight loss and motivation might still be going strong in those first days of any new dietary regime. On the flip side, I’m betting the fatigue and depression from a diet lacking in complete proteins happens sooner rather than later.

Without a doubt, Beard and Hayden are going to need some support in their two-week vegan challenge, so check out their blogs and leave some words of encouragement. I’m particularly interested to read their conclusions at the end of the two-week trial and explore what we can do with that information.

How about you? Could you go vegan for two weeks? What do you think of this challenge?

Discuss this Blog Entry 34

Ginny Messina (not verified)
on Jan 14, 2013

Amanda, you lose all credibility as soon as you start talking about diet and nutrition issues. Why not read some reputable sources of information about vegetarian diets like the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics position paper on this topic? It is simply not true that you "ditch healthy amino acids" when you stop eating meat. Plants have all of the essential amino acids. And do you honestly believe that all vegetarians and vegans are walking around fatigues and depressed because aren't eating "complete proteins." The whole idea of complete proteins was abandoned by protein researchers in the 1990s.

Christine Cook (not verified)
on Jan 15, 2013


Seems like you need to update yourself on vegan nutrition. Read Ginny's book, Vegan for Life, if you truly want to know what a healthy vegan eats.

DK (not verified)
on Jan 16, 2013

Ginny, you lose all credibility when you start a comment with an insult.

Scott (not verified)
on Jan 14, 2013

I've been vegan for years and it's amazing how great I feel and how healthy I am. My doctor stopped doing cholesterol tests on me years ago because he said it was a waste--he thinks that everyone should do what I'm doing.

I'm slim, energetic, and ultra-healthy--and I'm not young (although everyone who meets me thinks I am). I couldn't be happier--or healthier. Go for it.

Tom Smith (not verified)
on Jan 15, 2013

I'm always happy to hear about healthy people, whatever the diet. But for many, genetics has a lot to do with it. I'm lucky to be one of those. I eat beef, pork, eggs fried in bacon grease, gravy, fried chicken, and not enough vegetables, according to my friends, co-workers, and the medical profession. But my cholesterol is also low, even though I'm about 15 pounds overweight. My only health problem is arthritis and lots of aches and pains from 5 decades of ranch and rodeo injuries. My mother-in-law has never been overweight, eats very little meat, watches labels for saturated fats, and takes medication, and her cholesterol usually is above 300. I say, "Eat what you like as long as you stay healthy, and leave others free to do the same."

on Jan 14, 2013

You can titfortat all day long about nutrition and it "does" depend on which sources of information which may or may not be current science or historically proven that support what you base your diet on.

The grey area here and when people are misguided is when "ideology" trumps nutrition information "good or bad."

JCowling (not verified)
on Jan 15, 2013

It's hilarious that you're expecting energy loss. You may feel lousy for the first few days - but if you're smart at the grocery store you won't need to eat anything close to peanut butter all day to get your protein. And if you stick to it, strictly, for 2 weeks - you'll probably have more energy than you've had since being a kid.

on Jan 15, 2013

No way! I need at least 1 healthy serving of meat a day. If I don't, it's like skipping my morning coffee. My body tell's me it needs meat.

MyNameIsJack (not verified)
on Jan 15, 2013

That is perhaps due to your lack of knowledge of nutrition and what fuel your body needs to function. You can get what you need from plant based sources, just takes educating yourself.

Also, your body telling you missed your morning coffee is called caffeine withdrawal. That is not a nutritional issue so that comparison is incorrect.

wesmetzker (not verified)
on Jan 15, 2013

I could never go vegan, that would be like asking me not to breathe. But hey if you want to go ahead thats just more for the rest of us to eat!!! :)

on Jan 15, 2013

Absolutely. I have been a vegetarian for 27 years. My husband and I raise beef with a 30 cow/calf operation. I choose not to eat meat because personally I feel better when I don't. It is not a statement against the industry. It is a personal choice. I am still interested in the industry news etc. but get so turned off when there is the vegetarian "bashing" because guess what, we are among you.

So going vegan? I'd have to give up my home grown organic eggs, my friend's lovely honey and the occasional bit of organic cream I use in my cooking but give it two weeks and I'll have it down. And you all could come for dinner. I'm sure my husband would grill you some grassfed along with my fare.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Jan 15, 2013

Nice reply! As a beef producer that is pretty much how i feel! (see my Anon reply below)

As an anology, would a confectioner eat candy and sweets 24/7 just because they produce it?

Heifer Doctor (not verified)
on Jan 15, 2013

That's pretty much how I feel. If I lived on such an operation, I'd probably eat some grassfed beef occasionally. And it's great that she has access to home grown eggs and a friend's local honey. One doesn't have to be vegan with options like those!
I do love to eat beef, but I love cattle more, and what's important to me is that if I do eat beef, that it comes from a good source, humanely raised and harvested. It's not the meat, it's the suffering that happens in some operations that I want to avoid being part of. There are many food options in the world, and individual bodies want different things. We don't have to bash others who eat differently than we do. And I think that for farmers, and others involved in the agriculture community (I'm a vet student), that being a community and taking good care of the animals and the land is what's most important to us.

MyNameIsJack (not verified)
on Jan 15, 2013

What is also important is the massive amount of cattle being raised. Aside from personal ethics that vegans have, the environmental impact of the tonnage of cattle urine, methane release and other waste that is not contained properly, pollute water sources and cause other issues. That's just cows but most of that also applies to pork and poultry production as well. According to recent statistics, less then 5% of cattle is grass feed free roaming so what some folks here do in regards to raising their bovine is not what is normal or the majority of what is in the food supply.

Blaine (not verified)
on Jan 15, 2013

I was going to be a Vegan. Then I shut off MTV, Reality TV Shows, and got off my parents couch and got a job. Although I was feeling so misunderstood and entitled like many of today's youth, I realized that all I really needed was a good steak and some chores to complete me. The amazing thing, too, was that once I made the decision to eat beef and protein I felt no drive whatsoever to protest vegatable growers, tofu producers (not really even sure what that stuff is), or tree huggers...errrrr tree enthusiasts (sorry). For some reason, my protein based diet allows me to recognize that people have different tastes and can make separate choices based on preference or lifestyle, and I need not force my will upon them.

Amazing diet plan: Hard work and nutricious food (including BEEF!).

And I know the Vegan concept of eating "nothing that has a face," but I'm pretty sure that the asparagas next to my steak last night were totally smiling at me! They should have been, they were delicious:)

Everything in moderation people, including moderation:)

Good luck with your test, Danielle and David, but I Kind of think that is two weeks of your life that you'll never get back. Pretty cool that your light at the end of the proverbial tunnel will really be a delicious cheeseburger!

Bea Elliott (not verified)
on Jan 15, 2013

It just simply is not true that a vegan diet will leave you feeling fatigued or depressed! I'm not speaking for everyone but the majority of stories I've heard and people I've met are much like me... Claiming the opposite is true - You actually have more energy and stamina without the meat, dairy or eggs. After 5 decades as an omnivore and 5 years as a vegan I'm delighted with my health since making these better food choices!

BTW the NYT has an excellent piece on the "how's" of going vegan: And the "why's" are everywhere --- You just have to desire to know and the courage to act accordingly. ;)

Innsbrook (not verified)
on Jan 15, 2013

I agree that vegans tend to be moody and depressed. The great question that remains unanswered is whether vegans were moody and depressed before or after they went vegan.
If the answer is "before" then maybe we need to address their problem as a mental health issue instead of a nutrition issue......

J C HOPE (not verified)
on Jan 15, 2013

I think i could but for what ? To drop all meats from my diet would be extreme for me and balancing proteins with grains would be so far from where i am it would be far from normal for me. There seems to be a movement that harvesting animals because they are living for food is bad plants are alive also most harvested only for food. I think that american food system is the best in the world and should remain intact. The problem doesn't seem to be what we eat but how much we eat with no balance in proteins carbs etc. food programs in the US. do nothing about helping us to eat healthy. Trying to remove beef,fish,and all animal protein from our diets will prove to wreck the ecomony and the heath of the people. Teach people how to eat not what to eat. The US. has done this for animals is it not time to do this for humans

Anonymous (not verified)
on Jan 15, 2013

I raise beef and am somewhat of an anomaly in that I eat mostly vegetables and fruit and milk. I won't eat pork or chicken since they are mostly factory-farm raised and not healthy. I eat beef (my own) occasionally and fish quite a bit, but I think there are plenty of healthy vegans. I love dairy too much to go without skim milk and cheese, but I do think Americans eat too much red meat. Now, mind you I said, "too much"; we, as a country are obese and physically lazy and too much red meat doesn't make sense in a diet for fat people. That said, there is no quicker way to produce protein....

How many times do you see cattlemen or hogmen that are hugely obese? It doesn't market meat well!

on Jan 15, 2013

See the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics position paper:
and see:
Vegan in a Nutshell

Jay Wolff (not verified)
on Jan 15, 2013

Amanda, I think its a great article, and I wish Danielle Beard and David Hayden the best on trying to make it through a full two weeks. About a year ago after several speakers came to speak at SDSU, and having seen all the "Hype" in the media about going vegan; I agreed that maybe you shouldn't judge someone before you "walk a mile in their shoes". I decided that I might try to go vegan for just a short week or two, however after just a day I decided that I wasn't committed enough. Though I didn't manage to live the vegan life style for even a week or two, it gave me a better appreciation of just how many products that come from livestock products, or by products and how necessary I feel they are.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Jan 15, 2013

I really do hope these individuals are consulting a registered dietitian. I am an RD who believes beef does have a place in a healthy diet - for those who choose to eat it. It is a personal choice. Amanda, please do not try to delve into the nutritional sciences. You lose credibility. I will stick to my area of expertise, and I would appreciate it if you would stick to yours.

Blaine (not verified)
on Jan 15, 2013

I would offer that preaching about credibility while posting as "anonymous" pretty much deflates the value of anything you may have to add. Amanda simply through out a topic for her audience to "discuss" if you will? I would suspect that her goal is to entice experts to chime in with facts, experiences, and opinions...that is why she presented the idea and asked the question, right? Easy there...

Ag Teacher (not verified)
on Jan 15, 2013

Why do some people assume that agriculture advocates (like Amanda) have no knowledge of science? I know from personal experience that you WILL NOT graduate from a university with an animal science (or even general agriculture) degree without taking several advanced science courses as well as proving that you know how to review scientific research journals.

Human nutrition is not a settled issue in the scientific community in my opinion. As long as there are variations in research results, you must expect people to come down on one side or the other.

Some people who staunchly defend a postition may need to actually read the scientific research articles they have heard referenced in discussions.

Rebecca (not verified)
on Jan 15, 2013

Kudos to Danielle and David. I applaud their willingness to see the issue from others' perspectives and to try it for themselves, rather than criticize. That's the best way to open a constructive discussion and engage others.

W.E. (not verified)
on Jan 15, 2013

The truth is that every one of us is a unique individual human being complete with a unique metabolism, much of it inherited from a wide variety of ancestors that now may easily span the globe. When native peoples were isolated, individuals adapted to the diet of the region and the culture from which they originated or they didn’t survive long enough to reproduce.
Native peoples who ate their native diets were often very healthy people, whether they were Inuit who ate seal blubber or Polynesians who lived on fish and tropical fruits or Dakota Sioux who lived on buffalo meat and other produce of the plains. Scientists have examined the peoples of the Caucasus mountains, who are famous for their longevity, including the Daghestanis, who are noted for grinding their grains after they have begun to sprout, which enhances the vitamin content of the flour, and the Abkhazians who ate mainly fresh garden foods, with nuts at every meal, and others who ate cultured milk probiotics like yogurt and kefir. The variety of foods depended largely upon availability and knowledge accumulated in a particular place, and the people who survived were those who adapted to eat what was available.
When cultures began to co-mingle, we confused and complicated human DNA until some of us today can eat anything while others are adapted to eating almost nothing without some kind of problem ranging from food allergies to cancers to Crohn's disease. The industrial diet quickly threw endless strange and unfamiliar variables into our digestive systems.
One of the most easily remedied mistakes we have made is substituting baby formula for mother’s milk; breastfeeding prepares an infant’s body to take on unknowns in a way that no substitute can do. As we age, we must individually find what works for each of us. For example, the nutrient content of grassfed beef is similar to the diet of wild game eaten by most natives of temperate continental cultures, so it is highly digestible for most people, unless their genetics are mainly from a culture not adapted to meat. Add industrial ingredients like hormones, antibiotics and steroids, feed the cattle grain, and you have an entirely different kind of beef that no human being has yet fully adapted to consume. Maybe some of us can handle that kind of beef, but others, like several people who have responded on this blog, including me, cannot.
None of us, on the other hand, are adapted to consume large quantities of sugary soft drinks, empty calories, or pesticides without some kind of consequence. Bottom line: Especially while we are young, the majority of us can eat whatever we want, as long as we don't care how healthy we are, how fat we get, or how long we live. As we approach middle age, we had better be making some adjustments and listening to our bodies a little more if we want to continue in good health. It is up to each of us to determine what foods work best for us. We should not, through our own prejudices, attempt to convert others to our way of eating, nor should we expect other people to cover our medical bills when we refuse to exercise and eat healthful meals.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Jan 15, 2013

I don't particularly believe that any one way you choose is better then the other. Red meat is not evil in a diet. I think most things are okay in moderation. Like a glass of red wine at night. The kicker in the whole debate that causes the fraction between the two sides isn't necessarly based on science. You have personal feelings involved in this issue and that is what creates the debate. It is kind of like the Vegan side paints the meat eaters as evil because heaven forbit they harvested an animal to eat. And vise versa the meat eaters throw mud at the Vegans because most meat eaters don't have a lot of background knowledge about them and they just react by throwing what ever ammo at them as they can because they seem like an alien life form from another planet. Now I am pro ag, I come from a ranch and farm background, my husband farms, my family still raises cattle etc. So yes I am one of the meat eaters... The one thing that I wish Vegan folks would stop doing though is saying that harvesting animals is bad because it is harmful to their feelings, and animals should not be eaten because they have feeling and show response to human interaction. Well Vegans eat plants and science has yes determined that plants do respond to human interaction and voice influxion. So to me that point of view is not a valid argument. Throw it out the window. If you tell me that you are a Vegan because that life style makes you feel better, have more energy, better mental health, then rock on. Have at it and I might even pick your brain on some of the different foods that you eat, and try them along with my steak, pork, fish, chicken, seafood or what ever else I may wish to eat. I really don't believe there is a righ or wrong answer. It is a matter of personal life style choice, and being respectful to the choices that others make. If you don't like that animals are harvested for people to eat, then avoid the meat counter at the local grocery store. Nobody is forcing you to eat meat. And if I don't like Tofu (I don't by the way and yes have tried it on several occasions in different dishes) then I will just as respectfully avoid that section of the grocery store because yet again nobody is forcing me to buy it. It all boils down to respect and education. Have respect for your fellow person and if you can't agree with them then just smile and agree to disagree, but be nice about it. And if you are going to chang your life style do your homework, and make sure that you are being smart about it.

Blaine (not verified)
on Jan 15, 2013

Well said.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Jan 15, 2013

Did you actually read the replies from some of the beef producers and the vet student above?

on Jan 15, 2013

Well said, As I posted earlier: So many times it's about ideology and not nutrition.

It happens all the time even right here in this blog.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Jan 15, 2013

My family usually starts the Daniel Fast every year on Jan 2 (got to watch ballgames on Jan 1 and eat snacks!). It is a very strick vegan diet which lasts for 21 days. Even though I miss some of my favorite foods, it is a great learning experience for my family. We are also blessed by the reasons our children choose to fast- praying for a friend, sickness in the extended family, be closer to God. I love meat as much as anyone, but being a vegan for 21 days is not hard.

Meghan (not verified)
on Jan 15, 2013

First of all I would like to wish Danielle and David luck with their two week endevour. I could never take a two week break from meat and animal products. I enjoy them too much and my body craves meat, especially BEEF. My husband and I ranch along side his parents, so I yes, I am rather passionate about ranching and raising beef. I am a healthy, slender 31 year old, who is expecting my first child any day now. Just as vegans have their morals about why they do not consume animal products, I have my morals about why I do. I eat a healthy, balanced diet of plenty of lean proteins and fish, dairy, whole grains, fruits, vegetables and of course desserts. I need beef to fuel my growing baby, my body, my active lifestyle and my ravenous appetite during the day. Data points to a growing obesity epidemic in our country. Really? Look at all the fast food, eating out and couch potato lifestyle these obese people have. Get your butt off the couch, eat a balanced diet and exercise and alot of the problem would go away. My family consumes alot of beef on an annual basis, and we are slender, hardworking individuals. I take pride in the animals we care for which ultimately end up on my plate and maybe yours, if you consume meat. There is so much a healthy balanced diet including meat has to offer, and I choose to fuel myself and my family with it.

on Jan 19, 2013

I eat about 125 pounds of beef a year, measued by pre-cooking weight. I've kept my weight within about a 10-pound range. To the extent I've gotten hefty at times, it's been a matter of chocolate, not meat.

Beef is what's for dinner at our house, located smack dab in the middle of Vegan Central, i.e. Seattle. I am all in favor of vegans. They keep the steak prices down, ha ha!

One of my nieces went vegan for a while. After she returned to sanity, she told me that vegans were the most aggressive and depressed people she knew, and the most likely in her opinion to become cannibals. Ah, the wisdom of teenage girls!

Carolyn (not verified)
on Jan 22, 2013

Amanda, two of my classmates at Cal Poly did something similar. Here's a link to an AgWeb piece that featured their journey:

Enjoy and thanks for all that you do!

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BEEF Daily Blog is produced by rancher Amanda Radke, one of the U.S. beef industry’s top social media “agvocates.”


Amanda Radke

Amanda Radke is a fifth generation rancher from Mitchell, S.D., who has dedicated her career to serving as a voice for the nation’s beef producers. A 2009 graduate of South Dakota State...

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