One month vegan. It will be easy, thought Frida*. But when her father serves goulash at the family dinner, the situation suddenly turns out to be anything but easy.

No meat, no fish, no cheese – no problem. So far my thoughts around the turn of the year. This year I’ve made it my goal: I’ll take part in the Veganuary. Means: live a month without any animal products. One month vegan.

I didn’t think it was a particularly big challenge at first. After all, I mostly eat vegetarian anyway. And cheese? Oh, that’s okay, I thought to myself. Well – it turned out differently. But let’s start at the beginning…

On January 1st, I decided to give up all animal products for the next few weeks. One aspect: I wanted something new again. Test new recipes, cook differently, bake differently. I wanted the challenge.

Then there is the issue of animal welfare. I grew up partly on my father’s farm. With sheep and chickens. Eating meat was the order of the day. But that animals should suffer, die, so that I like it – that’s not really an argument.

And then of course there is the environment: vegan nutrition is sustainable. Much more sustainable than eating meat. Even though soy is used for many vegan substitute products, around 80 percent of global soy production is not used for it. Rather? Right, for animal feeding.

Don’t forget the health aspect. Vegan nutrition is healthy – as long as it is balanced, of course. The lack of vitamins that meat-free people are often said to have has nothing to do with their diet per se. For example, the lack of vitamin D is not just a problem for vegans. And you can also get iron from legumes, whole grains and nuts.

It only gets difficult with B12. We humans can only “naturally” consume this through animal products. However, vitamin B 12 is added to pigs, for example, in their diet. My alternative: I save the part with the animal and supplement directly myself.

So far so good. The first two weeks went well. I tried my hand in the kitchen, even my vegan pastries were well received by friends, sisters and roommates. I felt good, I felt healthy. I missed the feta a bit – but otherwise no complaints. And then came the goulash.

Christmas dinner at my dad’s – the one with the farm – was canceled last year. That’s why we postponed it. Into January. The vegan January. In the days leading up to this, I was already arguing with myself. Address that I don’t want meat? In front of my siblings? Difficult. In front of my dad? No option.

So it came as it had to come. I came, saw and ate. The goulash. Precious. I saved myself the discussions.

Did I have a guilty conscience? Oh well. Rather, I noticed: Yes, it was good. But do I need that? No. Instead, I’ve continued to do it since then: no goulash, no feta. Not even a bite from my friend’s milk chocolate bar. I have to hold on for a few more days.

Do I continue after that? Let’s see. There will definitely be feta in one dish or another. And maybe a goulash again at Christmas. But other than that, I can say: I don’t really miss anything. And a look at the supermarket shelves shows: Eating vegan is trendy. It feels like there are new products in the rows every day. Gyros, sausages and cevapcici – all of this is now also available meat-free.

Protocol: FOCUS online editor Paula Schneider

*Name changed by editors