When I describe my friend Sarah to people, I explain she's a “vegan, earthy-crunchy, Cali girl,” or in other words, a hippie. Everyday I watch her consume vast amounts of spinach, bell peppers, corn, fruits, etc. and still stay energized throughout the day, while I solely rely on coffee and Luna Bars.
I was so perplexed by her diet, because while she rarely eats any carbs and is a avid fruit and vegetable eater, she is never starving and always ready to face the day. Skeptical about the whole "vegan" trend, I decided to do some research.
The definition of “going vegan,” according to the National Society of Veganism, is not eating any animal byproducts, which means no dairy, eggs, or meat. By going vegan, one is said to feel light, energized, cleansed, and happy.
In light of her success in being a vegan, me, a hearty New-Englander who loves steak, decided to be vegan for a week. And this is what happened.
Coffee with soy milk. Let’s just say, it was... different. It wasn’t totally disgusting, but I really shouldn't complain because soy milk has twice the amount of calcium as regular. If you pop a Splenda in there, it won't make a difference. And after drinking my coffee with soy milk, I wasn't bloated, tired, or heavy in anyway.
For the rest of the day, I ate two fruit cups and finished off with a salad for dinner. While I was going strong for a while, I started to starve circa 11:00 pm In distraught and beginning to question why I chose this experiment, my friend shoved a McDougall's Pad Thai Noodle Soup down my throat and I was good till the morning.
Walking into day two, I was focused. For breakfast, I opted for a vegan yogurt from Daiya and slurped it down like a champ. Now, typically I'm a blueberry Chobani maniac; however, Nancy could be warming up to me. I didn't eat anything after that until lunch when I grabbed a quick Larabar which I do tend to enjoy.
The day was running smoothly, until I hit dinner. The rich aroma of a chicken avocado sandwich was calling my name from the dining hall and I began to quiver. Scared and alone, I seriously questioned what I should do. In the end, being the good vegan that I am, ate a salad.
I accidentally had a dairy-based caesar dressing in my salad and I confess, I still ate it. When I realized what I was eating, it was too late to turn back. Even though I was only on day three of my vegan diet, I felt like my body had already started adjusting to the #veganlife and I had a terrible, burning stomach ache after.
From here, I felt like I had to redeem myself and be extra vegan for dinner. And I did just that. I ate tofu. And that is one thing I will never eat again.
On the fourth day, I was charged and driven after my hiccup the previous day. Therefore, I ordered a huge salad from the market at my school,with loads of corn, rice, chick peas, black beans, celery, carrots, and beets. It was amazing. It kept me full from noon until dinner at 6 pm.
#SpoonTip: I drank three full water bottles in between this, and felt completely energized just like my friend explained I would.
For dinner, I decided to make a loaded veggie pesto pizza, and it was probably the best explosion of flavor that touched my tongue. I fell in love. The rumor that carbs are bad is false. Eat them. Eat them all.
Meats, like chicken, steak, and pork, are dripping in cholesterol. Every cell in our body runs on glucose; if you feed your cells, you will feed your entire body. Low carb diets force cells to burn fat which is why you quickly drop the pounds until you eventually binge, gain, and repeat the cycle. Going vegan makes weight loss more at ease.
Day five was a tough one, I will admit. I craved so badly for a salad with grilled chicken which was a typical meal choice for me. But instead, I held back and dragged myself to the Thai noodle line, which ended up being delish. 10/10 would recommend adding as many veggies as possible because it adds so much flavor and will keep you full throughout the day.
For dinner, I had a PB&J. Probably not the most vegan food on this planet, but hey, it works. Again, Day five was a toughie. That was all I ate.
#SpoonTip: Vegan foods are calorically dilute, so get freaky and throw on as many veggies as you want.
As I neared the end of this experience, I decided to treat myself to vegan chocolate chip banana bread in the morning, which made me question why I was ever not vegan in the first place. This bread tasted magical.
There's no noticeable difference in taste between this and regular chocolate chip banana bread. In fact, the vegan version tasted better becaused the bananas seemed so fresh.
Throughout the day, I did my usual: salad, Larabar, and occasional banana here and there. For dinner, however, I got creative. I ventured to the magical world of Trader Joe's and got crafty. I made a salad with quinoa, lentils, Japanese sweet potatoes, and brown rice. I casually waltzed by the bin of cubed grilled chicken and gave my friend a look. I know this is crazy, but my salad was heavenly, and I plan on making it myself in the kitchen of my dorm.
On my final day of the trial, my dad was visiting me at college and took me to our favorite restaurant. All day I only ate fruits, veggies, and a light salad so at dinner I'd be starving and could go crazy. I hadn't explained to my full-bred Italian dad that I was being vegan. Therefore, when I asked if the balsamic vinaigrette at the restaurant had any dairy in it, he began to laugh uncontrollably. But hey, haters gonna hate. My salad was damn good.
Being a vegan doesn't mean turning into a bunny who only eats carrots and celery. Many things, like vodka, bread, juices, and some candy, are all vegan. While I knew only going vegan for a week wasn't going to make me the most angelic, loyal vegan on this planet, I'm so happy I can say I did it because I have continued my streak to the 10th day and feel amazingly pure.
Changing your diet and having your body get used to it takes time. After this experiment, I have gained so much respect for vegans, vegetarians, and anyone who has a dietary restriction; it truly takes every ounce of focus, diligence, and motivation to stay on track.
When my friend Sarah would ask if there was tofu served at the dining hall for breakfast, I used to laugh. Now, I walk by the bacon and eggs line and go straight for the plain toasted bagel and eat it with a smile. While I did mess up once, I learned that making slight dietary changes goes a very long way. Once you go #vegan, you'll never go back.