Why You Should Take the 30-Day Plant-Based Challenge

Are you ready to take this life-changing challenge?

Get ready for an amazing transformation: During this 30-day plant-based challenge, you’ll cleanse your system and detox your body. We’ll give you everything you need to reduce your dependency on meat, increase your intake of essential vitamins and minerals, and feel better overall. The best part is that you don’t have to be a vegan to take this challenge (although, you might want to become one after it’s over!). This program will help even the most hard-core omnivores eat more plants and love every minute of it.

There’s no way to prepare you for how good you’ll feel after you finish a month of clean eating. You simply have to try it for yourself and feel the effects! Read on to learn about how it works, what you can and can’t eat, and get the meal plans that will set you up for success. During this 30-day plant-based challenge, we invite you to eat more whole foods than you ever have before!

How It Works

Okay, here’s how the 30-day plant-based challenge works: For the next 30 days, you’re going to revitalize your body and recharge your system by eating only plant-based foods. That means no animal products (including dairy).

The best way to set yourself up for success is to be prepared. You won’t be able to grab a take-out pizza or a drive-through burger while you’re on this challenge. Even vegetarian-friendly restaurants often don’t have 100 percent plant-based options, so you really need to stock your fridge with ready-to-eat foods. Make sure you’re meal planning (and we will have a few suggestions for you later), making a weekly grocery list, and prepping your food in advance. We’d definitely suggest taking this opportunity to start a bullet journal if you haven’t already!

At the end of the 30 days, you’ll feel better than you have in years. You’ll think more clearly, and your body will feel cleaner and full of energy. By following this 30-day program, you’ll actually reset your mind and change the way you think about food. You may even notice that you’re more hydrated than usual and you’ve stopped craving junk food and sweets!

Foods You Can Eat

Anything that grows in the ground is fair game. That means any and all vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Feel free to eat healthy fats, like olive oil or avocados, but stay away from sugars whenever possible. If you need to sweeten up your food, use naturally-occurring sugars, like maple syrup. Unlike refined sugars, natural sweeteners actually help your body digest food because they still contain nutrients.

Here’s a quick-and-easy guide to what you CAN eat:

  • Fruits: You can eat any whole fruit you like (including bananas, apples, berries, mangos, watermelon, peaches, limes, lemons, pears, etc.). You might want to stay away from dried fruit and fruit juice, as these often lack nutrients and can have added sugars.
  • Vegetables: Eat starchy and non-starchy vegetables alike! You’ll want to bulk-up on foods like leafy greens, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, potatoes, sweet potatoes, eggplant, peas, corn, squash, etc.
  • Whole Grains: As long as it’s a whole grain, you can eat it, including seitan (a great plant-based protein). Feel free to use whole-wheat flour, oats, brown rice, quinoa, amaranth, millet, and more. We’d recommend avoiding refined flours or white rice, as they tend to lack nutrients and don’t help for weight loss.
  • Seeds, Herbs, and Spices: These are all fair game! Fill up with omega-3 fatty acid-rich chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds, and use any fresh herb or dried spices to add flavor to your food.
  • Soy products: Tofu, tempeh, and edamame are excellent sources of healthy protein during your 30-day plant-based challenge. Don’t be afraid to try new things this month!
  • Legumes and Nuts: There are no limitations on legumes and nuts during your plant-based challenge. You’ll actually want to eat a lot of lentils and chickpeas to get enough protein and fiber in your diet, and nuts like peanuts and almonds are excellent sources of healthy fats.
  • Beverages: It’s great to stick to water while you’re on this challenge, but you can also drink tea, black coffee, and nut milk.
  • Oils: Olive oil is always a good one, and you can also coconut oil for cooking.
  • Sweeteners: Agave nectar, date paste, coconut sugar, and maple syrup are all fine choices for sweetening up your food.

Foods To Avoid

Obviously, you won’t be eating meat, poultry, and fish, but you also need to steer clear of other animal products. That means no butter, eggs, dairy, and honey. And it’s not just animal products that are off-limits: You’ll also want to avoid anything that’s been processed, like refined sugars, bleached flour, and most oils.

Anything that comes in a box or a bag is probably full of chemicals, preservatives, food colorings, carrageenan, MSG, and sulfites. These things are generally unhealthy and should be avoided on any diet. Make sure to check your labels before buying pre-packaged foods.

Here’s the overall guide to what you CAN’T eat:

  • Meat: This includes red meat, pork, poultry, fish, seafood, and processed meat.
  • Dairy: No milk, ghee, butter, yogurt, cheese, cream, half-and-half, or buttermilk. You can eat coconut yogurt or dairy-free ice cream.
  • Refined flour: Stick to 100 percent whole-wheat flour, and the bleached, refined stuff has little to no nutrient value.
  • Beverages: No soda, juice, sports drinks, or energy drinks. This stuff is full of processed sugar, and it’s really not good for you!
  • Oils: Anything that says partial-hydrogenated is made in a lab (not in nature), so avoid things like vegetable oil, margarine, and canola oil.
  • Sweeteners: The one big one here is honey. Honey bees make it, so it doesn’t qualify as a plant-based food. You’ll also want to avoid any refined sugars, as they have little to no nutrient value.
  • Gelatin: This might surprise you, but gelatin is not plant-based; it’s derived from animal bones and hooves (yuck!). Use agar-agar or vegetable gums (like xantham gum or guar gum) instead.

How To Succeed on this Plant-Based Challenge

As we mentioned earlier, you’ll want to set yourself up for success for this 30-day plant-based challenge. That means stocking the fridge, freezer, and pantry with quick-and-easy meals. Make sure you have plenty of snacks on hand for those times when you lack energy.

Other than that, just start making healthy substitutions. Eventually, they will become life-long habits! When you find yourself craving something sweet, reach for a banana or a sweet potato. If you feel the urge to snack, grab some carrot or bell pepper sticks.

Start your day off with a glass of water and a green smoothie and fill up throughout the day on soups, stews, and salads. Snack on fruit and vegetables when you need to, even if you feel like you’re eating a lot in the first week. Stick with it, because it takes time to re-train your body and hard-wire it to crave healthy choices.

Before you know it, eating fresh fruits and vegetables will become a habit. You won’t feel the need to reach for unhealthy snacks, and you’ll feel fuller and more satisfied after eating a meal. In only 30 days, you’ll be well on your way to a happier, healthier self!

Helpful Resources

Here are a few resources to get you started, including some meal plans.

Cooking Tips

Stocking the Pantry

Meal Plans and Recipes

Looking for more plant-based recipes? Follow us on Pinterest and browse our extensive collection!

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Chef Lindsay

Lindsay D. Mattison is a professional chef, recipe developer, and food writer. After graduating from Cascade Culinary School, Lindsay worked as the executive chef of a farm-to-table restaurant in Bend, Oregon. She is passionate about using local, organic ingredients and loves teaching home cooks how to incorporate seasonal food into their diet. While she spends most of her time writing these days, she still exercises her culinary muscles on the regular, taking any opportunity to create beautiful meals for her family. She lives with her husband in Colorado, where she enjoys the trials and errors of gardening.

More by Lindsay D.


    1. You are correct that ghee is NOT vegan. Milk products are removed from ghee but it is derived from cows. If you prefer to avoid all products derived from animals, you’ll want to avoid Ghee. I made the correction. Thank you for pointing out the error. 🙂

  1. Hi there, I’m wondering which one of these are correct?
    You have have that “Ghee” is okay to have under what you CAN eat.
    Oils: Olive oil is always a good one, but you can also use ghee or coconut oil for cooking.
    Then you have it again under foods you CAN’T eat.
    Dairy: No milk, ghee, butter, yogurt, cheese, cream, half-and-half, or buttermilk. You can eat coconut yogurt or dairy-free ice cream.

    1. Colleen, I removed ghee from “what you can eat” during the plant-based challenge. Anything that comes from an animal is not a “true” plant-based food. Foods that come from the earth fall under plant-based.

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