The Vegan Experiment: Cousin Paula Enters Veganland

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Join Cousin Paula as she experiments with a plant-based diet using the meal plans from our new recipe ebooks as a guide!

Prepping for the Move To Plant-Based Nutrition 

The women of The Vegan Project and Jacked on the Beanstalk, Bridget Burns and Samantha Shorkey, recently asked me to provide a testimonial for their ebooks, which were released this past July by taking a 7-day vegan diet challenge. The diet? To eat only the foods still in nature’s packaging. And this means, not in the form of a cow or an eggshell. No meat, fish, poultry, cheese, eggs, yogurt or milk. This would be myself committing to a diet completely of grains, nuts, beans, seeds, peas and corn.

Vegan Cooking at Home

They suggested starting off with Bridget’s book, Vegan Cooking At Home as a good platform to ease myself into the concept.  Soon I’d be arriving into Veganland. Although I don’t eat a lot of meat in my diet, I’ll eat it often enough (and eggs)~ I need my protein. Given I’ve promised myself to never live vicariously, I was willing to take it up the 7-day challenge as a new experience!

Entering the vegan lifestyle began with Bridget’s simple and helpful how-to breakdown on the diet, including a shopping list and a Sunday prep plan. I felt like I was joining a community as I began to teach myself more about the diet. Even received a high five from the highly knowledgeable (and vegan) salesman at the health food store.  C’mon seriously, what exactly is kelp powder or Spirulina? ‘Oh…….. okay but do I actually need this?’ I thought to myself. I would suggest informing yourself about these over time if you’re serious about a vegan diet and then consider them.  Bridget explained, not to worry, you don’t need to spend the big bucks right away. Same with the cooking ingredients, most were already regulars on my shopping list.

I was slightly concerned with completely cutting meat from my diet (I love seafood!) and animal by-products (what! No cheese!). Would I still enjoy all the flavours of food? What’s really important here? Why do people choose this diet? So, I began to look into this recent trend some more as a way to fully immerse myself in it.

The key word Bridget uses to describe her food is “homefood” and as I flipped through the photos I saw the e-book would provide an excellent base for someone considering this diet~ meals from morning ’til dinner, with nothing too extreme in meal planning. Co-founder of The Vegan Project, Jen Boyle, provides informative and helpful nutritional tips throughout the book as well, which only led me to ponder the benefits of veganism. With this promise of “home food” I’m hoping Vegan Cooking At Home will be a nice way to ease myself into the diet and still deliver on satisfying my taste buds.

It promises simplicity, flavor and as Jen puts it, “superhuman benefits.” Superhuman? Like a superhero? And what would his or her superpowers be?  Many have listed the following as benefits of a vegan diet:

Weight loss

Good for the environment

You feel more connected to your spiritual self

You’re more compassionate

It saves you money

Enhances creativity

Lowers cholesterol

Reverses heart disease

Prevents aging

Averts or slows cancers

Repairs DNA damage

Helps with healthy intestinal transit

Prevents and treats Type II diabetes

Improves cognition

Cuts down on the need for drugs and surgery

And most of today’s physicians (Canadian Family Physicians) support the idea that eating a plant-based diet significantly decreases your chance of getting cancer.

Jacked on The Beanstalk

Samantha’s Jacked on the Beanstalk  e-book is more geared to the training athlete or those looking to maintain and build muscle and stay lean.

Having seen Samantha’s transformation on her way to her 1st-place win in her fitness competition (bikini division) in Ft. St. John B.C, I knew she’d be sharing a lot of valuable information on how to get lean and still eat some delicious food. Seriously though, did you see her competition photos? Although, I do know the extremely high amount of dedication she had and what she gave up AND how hard she trained to look like that, so I’m interested to find out just how delicious these recipes from Jacked on the Beanstalk are; especially the desserts, as I know Sam’s got quite the sweet tooth.

Samantha recommends eating six small meals a day for the reason of promoting an active metabolism, which, in turn leads to a lean physique. She explains to not give into temptation ~ I’m not too worried. As much as I want a sweet ass n body I don’t intend to go through the rigorous diet meal plan she went through for her competition, rather just take everything in moderation, which is how she explains in her recipes. As I finish her book, I realize that her book is not just for the competing athlete or the gym rats. And I don’t want to use the term “gym rat” derogatorily (I, myself may be considered one), nor do I think you can spend ‘too much’ time partaking in muscle building, strength training, and cardiovascular or aerobic activity. I enjoy going to the gym, seeing results and eating healthy food. This is a healthier lifestyle choice for me and I think a lot of people would agree. This e-book is for anyone who enjoys taking care of their bodies and being sufficiently fuelled through a workout. If I could learn more tips and better recipes AND preserve “hard earned” muscle, as Samantha explains, it all sounds good to me!

She also provides a list of the best foods for vegan athletes, her favorite flavor combos and a simple breakdown of how to choose a balanced meal from the healthiest food options.

I was excited to get started and wanted to do it right. I thought I’d give it 7-days for sure and see how I felt, but knew that if I really wanted to best be able to recognize the effects or get the most benefits that I could possibly be doing it for 30 days. I would be using their books as a guide for recipes and meal plans. I promised them I’d be honest and frank. These girls are my friends (even family) but I’m not about to say something tastes good if it actually tastes like cardboard. Fair enough?

Before completely rock and rolling, hardcore-style right into veganism I took about a week to prep myself and take a warm-up practice week. I was quite possibly saying goodbye to some foods forever and reminding myself when I was out at a restaurant or at the grocery store that this item wouldn’t be considered “acceptable” as a vegan. The Noodle Box almost got me when I had forgotten the fish sauce in my order, which they quickly told me they could easily remove.

Preparation and some of the difficulties I encountered: 

I read the books, obviously…..the photos got me really excited!

Bought ingredients – lots of fruit and veggies, beans and nuts; stocked up and familiarized myself with the items (you’ll have to slowly build up your pantry)

Had to remind myself of those sneaky milk ingredients that food marketers have loaded up almost all of our foods with (from this, I started to pay more attention to overall what is in our more processed foods like white flour, sugar, fat and salt and thought why I wouldn’t want the processed version of this stuff from my foods)

Weekly meal plan/prep~ nothing too out of the ordinary if you eat healthy during the week you have to do this (usually Sunday or Monday evenings). These were new (somewhat foreign) recipes to me and so that took a little more time. You also have to get used to cooking multi-day batches and storing food for the week.

Flavour combos and creating a balance meal~ it’s how you put it all together and which flavours you choose to highlight  – Exciting right? Especially with some of the desserts! Healthy black bean brownies from Jacked on the Beanstalk, no way?!

A result of a vegan diet is it helps with healthy intestinal transit. I workout and run with Samantha and we hang out a lot. Girls talk about everything and anything. I was aware of what was to come of having a healthier digestive system and colon. Enough said.

I was somewhat worried that I’d become a social misfit with eating or dining out. You work it out and by choosing a route to a healthier path removed my unnatural cravings quite organically.

As I took the week before to ease myself up to my 7-day challenge with minimal meat and animal byproducts, I did notice a difference. I felt really balanced with good mental clarity and had solid energy throughout the whole day. This was a bit surprising and made me feel very pumped for the week ahead!

If you’re already sold on the benefits of living a vegan diet than I encourage you to look into purchasing these two e-books from these amazing women, if not then please stay tuned for results and conclusion of my experience!

Who am I? 

Greetings from Cousin Paula! Who am I? I’m Cousin Paula. The women of The Vegan Project had essentially asked that I provide a testimonial to their e-books; and from my standpoint as Cousin Paula – the skeptical and directly honest real bitch that I am. I’ll be (hopefully) providing a non-biased view of taking on the vegan plant-diet for 7-days (and up to 30 days).

~Cousin Paula

If you’d like to participate in The Vegan Experiment email us at

~The Vegan Project


  1. Nice work, Cousin Paula, you’re fortunate to have all these resources at your disposal and these incredible guides from the Vegan Project to light the way.

    You could probably have included the superpower of saving many animals from any abuse and suffering.

    That may fall under your compassion power, but maybe the compassion is more of benefit to you personally, whereas the alleviation of suffering accrues directly to our fellow earthlings trapped in the industrial agricultural system.

    I look forward to the follow-up, go for 30!

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