I use the word “week” lightly here, considering I barely made it to Thursday before making excuses about my new veganism disrupting my weekend plans.
When I started this project, I did not have high hopes for myself. In the words of Drake, “I went 0 to 100 real quick.” This is someone who sometimes eats a cheeseburger for breakfast. How was I supposed to spend a week abstaining from all animal products?
If you are thinking about becoming a vegan, I hope my experience here can shed some light on just how difficult this lifestyle change can be. Slide the text below or click the bullets to change the day.
Monday (Day 1): I need to go grocery shopping for my new diet. Based on everything I’ve read about being a vegan, I have learned that without meal prep you might end up eating your own hand … and your hand is not vegan. I went to the grocery store. Experience has taught me that going to the grocery store hungry will result in buying an entire sheet cake, so I decided to go get breakfast out somewhere. This is the biggest complaint I have heard among vegans, “It is almost impossible to eat out.” Luckily, Jax Beach has Delicomb with its variety of delicious vegan options. I ordered an acai bowl and an iced coffee. The acai berry has been praised for its many health benefits. This frozen treat at Delicomb is topped with fresh fruit, granola and honey. I found out after eating this that honey is technically not vegan because bees produce honey for their own use, so I am already failing at my diet.
Problem number two? I grab my iced coffee and brought it to the table where I usually pour about a cup of half-n-half in my coffee. Instead, I used almond milk and agave syrup. Here’s the thing about almond milk, it tastes nothing like half-n-half, so I try to choke it down, but it’s unpleasant and my taste buds want fat. I go to Publix and stock up on rice, beans, various vegetables, almond milk, Puffins peanut butter cereal, hummus, an Amy’s vegan cheese pizza, bananas, avocados, black bean burgers and the ingredients to make vegan chili. I make vegan chili for lunch with quinoa for the protein and avocado for the taste. It was pretty good, but I was hungry again in about 45 minutes. I snacked on almonds and different fruits all afternoon. I had high hopes of cooking for dinner, but got out of work too late and was starving so I ate the pizza. I don’t know if I was just so hungry it tasted good or what, but I had to go to bed early to keep myself from driving to Whit’s Frozen Custard.
Tuesday (Day 2): Peanut butter cereal, almond milk and banana for breakfast. I am dreaming of bacon, egg and cheese biscuits, but I am also looking at Instagram’s of bikini models, so I keep eating the banana. I know if I am going to make it any further in this without walking in front of a moving car, I am going to have to find some new recipes. I find one for a tofu sesame noodle bowl and decide I’ll make it for dinner. For lunch I only have 30 minutes between classes, so I go to Native Sun for cauliflower Sriracha tacos, kale and vegan chocolate coconut clusters. The vegan chocolates are really good. I would have loved to stock up on them, but they are expensive, so I Google a recipe for them later.
I leave Native Sun feeling confident about my new diet and dream of continuing this past the week and becoming so healthy and fit. This fantasy is quickly squashed when I am hungry after class and have to walk past a Chik-fil-a. It takes all willpower I have to walk past the line and go home to have hummus. I start work on dinner as soon as I get home because I don’t want to cook hungry. My dog stays far away from me because I think she can sense I have been looking at her imagining what she would taste like with ketchup. She’s a dachshund, so this isn’t totally inappropriate (right?). I eat my tofu sesame noodle bowl with broccoli, peas and red peppers. For dessert its banana “nice cream” which is just frozen bananas, nutmeg, cinnamon and almonds. It tastes nothing like ice cream … I go to bed sad.
Wednesday (Day 3): I am trying to be positive about my new change. I am not someone who normally has stomach issues, but I could see if you did suffer from that this raw diet would help. I have read the reports I know that refined sugar, animal meat and milk does horrible things to your body, but at the same time, it tastes like heaven. My diet today is pretty similar to the past two days — I eat a lot of peanut butter and almonds. I have a black bean burger with avocado for lunch and a farmer wrap, also known as a veggie wrap, from Native Sun for dinner. I decide to take a different approach and consider people who do this for animal cruelty reasons. I go on PETA’s website to look at pictures and videos of how horrible the meat industry is. Though I feel awful for all the poor cows, pigs and chickens, once I log off, I quickly forget about and I’m soon craving a hamburger and fries so badly I get dizzy.
Thursday (Day 4): I cannot eat peanut butter puffs again, so I drive to Sweet Theory Baking Company in Five Points. I eat a donut and get a piece of cake for later. I have basil pesto hummus, green peppers and pita bread for lunch. I want meat so badly I feel like a heroin addict. I need my beef fix. I thought that by day four the cravings would have subsided and I would be feeling healthier. Maybe I am healthier, but I feel so hungry I don’t notice anything else. I ate some raisins and nuts and came to the realization I would not make it through Halloween weekend as a vegan. I only had one more day to get through.
Friday (Day 5): I began the countdown to meat-day as soon as my eyes opened. I ate my puffs, made a vegan stir-fry for lunch and a vegan grilled cheese with veggie sticks for dinner. I tried to reflect this lifestyle and evaluate how different I felt from Monday morning. I spent the week looking carefully at food labels, not eating fried potato in some form at every meal and realized I don’t need a lot of meat to get the protein I need. The vegan lifestyle is incredibly difficult. It required a lot of planning, it is difficult to eat out and you have to make sure you’re getting all of the right nutrients without carbo-loading. I applaud anyone who can do this on a constant basis. I wish I could. This experiment did teach me to switch out certain food for others. Occasionally substituting different foods for unhealthier ones can have a major impact on your health. Should you decide to try this vegan challenge, I wish you good luck and happy eating my friends.