I tried to be vegan, it was…. an experience.
Ok, so it seems like everyone and their best friend are going vegan these days. And to be honest, my past life as a vegetarian was short-lived and unhealthy at best. I basically consumed french fries and candy bars- ah, the metabolism of youth.
But, I was curious to see the benefits, the challenges, and the improvements to the general diet of the vegans of today.
So I proposed a poll to my lovely Instagram audience asking if they thought I could, in fact, be vegan for let’s say 14 days. That doesn’t seem SO hard, and it’s just long enough to really get used to it.
87% of the voters said I couldn’t do it… And, well it’s not a secret I get very determined when people doubt me. So, here we start my vegan journey.
Let me tell you, at first I was like “man, this is so easy; I could be a vegan forever” but by day 14 I was desperately craving burgers and pizza. Yes, yes, I know my taste buds can resemble that of a child.
If you want to give veganism a try, I used this site for a beginner vegan grocery list.
But let’s start off with the things I did love.
I tried being vegan: the benefits
Veganism is probably all of our futures. The environmental impact, and the progress they have made with plant-based proteins, I have no doubt that eventually there will be a shift away from eating meat.
And, the plant-based proteins are actually great! They satisfied that craving for something hearty and while it did not taste like meat per se, it filled the gap for meals that I missed.
Also, a fact I didn’t know was that a lot of bread (especially whole grain and bagels (without egg shine)) are vegan. This was a godsend as I lived on avocado toast. However, cashew cream cheese was a hard pass for me, so finding a topping for a bagel that would be sufficient to my tastes proved a bit harder than I had expected.
The reality is with all the progress we have made in the vegan food world, eating salads and veggies 24/7 does not have to be the reality.
And, I would be remiss to not note that eliminating dairy helped my skin a lot. This is a debated topic among dermatologists but generally, I find dairy to be my skins enemy.
Veganism also helped me cut out my last minute “give up and call delivery” cravings. There are some options for a vegan who wants take-out but generally, it was a bit limited so I cooked at home a lot more. This was helpful to my budget and the leftovers seemed to be more appealing overall.
My energy level was higher than normal and I found myself having fewer lethargic food crashes than normal. I am someone who eats lots of small meals a day, and usually, at the 3-hour mark, I need another small meal. Being vegan elongated those breaks, which in theory means my body was sustained on what I had consumed.
I found oat milk an amazingly tasty substitute for my coffee because I have almond milk and most other options. The sugar count on oat milk is debatably not so healthy, but eliminating a lot of other more sugary snacks and treats made me feel this was an ok trade-off.
Also, fun fact- OREO’s are vegan. This was helpful.
And while I don’t like almond milk generally, the whole foods almond milk nondairy ice cream was amazing. It felt like ice cream, and having dessert is an important part of my life, so this was a win.
Also- vegan cheese- pretty darn ok. Making a grilled cheese was a nice alternative to a more involved meal and the sandwich itself felt very similar in texture and taste to the “real deal”.
I tried being vegan: The downfalls
Ok, a lot of my day is spent by myself. I work for myself so the average work environment does not apply. So going out to eat with my friends became an easy way to socialize in a low-stress way. This became massively harder as a vegan.
A lot of restaurants have a single vegan option and a few vegetarian meals. But, going out and socializing is most conducive when you are enjoying your meal. I felt like i was imposing on my friends by putting such strict limitations on where we could go for MY diet.
Furthermore, going out on a date while being vegan posed a bit of a problem. Typical Italian and American cuisines failed to provide many options and it’s kind of embarrassing to order a side salad on a date. I felt like I was “that waif girl who just eats salads”- when really nothing could be further from the truth.
The first week of being vegan really was easy. But the second week I was traveling and let me tell you- airport food and food on an airplane are NOT vegan-friendly. The meal you can request was scary, and most restaurants at the airport did not cater to the vegan crowd. The options were a bland salad or snacking on nuts.
It got old. It was hard to eat such a limited selection of foods. While they have made leaps and bounds in the vegan cuisine, the reality is that it was a lot more effort for me. I don’t cook completely from scratch often, and cooking vegan was more involved than my normal daily cooking routine.
I was constantly checking labels and googling “ is _______ vegan?”. I’m sure given more time it would have gotten easier but, overall I found myself feeling like I was missing out.
I’m glad I did it. It was good to get out of my comfort zone and to try something new. I challenged myself to try new foods, and learn new recipes. Some that will carry over to my current (meat friendly) diet.
I will definitely be keeping plant-based proteins in my diet and limiting my dairy consumption (I’ve decided I like my clear skin more than I like cheese).
But, the restrictions were a bit too much for me overall. Let’s give it 10 more years and see where we are then.
In the meantime, let’s celebrate my 14 days of veganism with chicken and waffles.
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