At first, the idea of giving up meat and cheese sounded crazy. My family still laughs at how four-year-old me would slam my fists on the dinner table and scream, “More meat!” In recent years, veganism has gained so much attention for being a healthy and environmentally sustainable diet. After hearing so much about it and knowing so many people who have jumped on the vegan bandwagon, I figured I’d give it a go.

Going vegan was like a science experiment. I paid careful attention to my mood, body and habits as I embarked on this plant-based journey. After two weeks of veganism, these were my key findings: 

1. Your Skin Glows

When it comes skin, you truly are what you eat. Eating less dairy and more antioxidant-rich foods help promote a bright complexion and dispel bloating. Just remember to keep your diet diverse. It’s common for people to only eat simple carbohydrates and forget about including fruits and vegetables, which leads to adverse effects. 

2. You Get An Incredible Energy Boost

Starting your day off with fruits and vegetables really is nature’s caffeine. As a long-time coffee lover, I was surprised when I found myself switching from my usual two morning cups to one.

3. Say No to Fake Meat

Countless brands and restaurants have come out with fake versions of common non-vegan foods. Impossible burgers, tofu dogs and tempeh fill the vegan aisle of supermarkets. Because these substitutes are soy-based, they are incredibly hard to digest. To avoid the discomfort, stick to plant-based meals—they often taste better anyway. Parting ways with the meats we know and love may be difficult, but no meat is better than fake meat!

4. You Really Learn How To Cook

Going vegan changed the way I approach cooking. Since I was used to making meals with meat, I had to search for new vegan recipes. From them, I learned to season and prepare my food in ways I wasn't previously familiar with. When prepared properly, plant-based meals are just as delicious, if not more so than meat-centric ones. Even though I’m back to my normal diet, the meals I cook at home now are more heavily plant-based.

5. Spaghetti Squash Is King

Every time I devour a bowl of pasta, I find myself nursing a terrible stomach ache. Spaghetti squash delivers all the savory, saucy goodness of pasta without any of the regret. It’s the perfect vehicle for any sauce and adds an autumnal flavor to each bite. It only takes twenty minutes to cook and stores great as leftovers too. 

6. Don't Throw Away Your Slow Cooker

Before going vegan, I hated the slow cooker. It requires intense meal planning and takes hours to prepare a single meal. However, once I started cooking with large and tougher vegetables, I learned slow cookers were a great way to soften them down into soups, chilis and stews. With just one pot, you can experiment with so many flavor combinations and branch out into different cuisines.

7. Oat Milk Is the Best Alt-Milk

As someone who’s tried almost every alt-milk out there, I can confidently say oat milk is the best. Unlike other nut-based milks that taste watered-down, oat milk can stand on its own. It’s creaminess and nutty flavor make it a great addition to morning coffee. And arguably the most important, oat milk froths! A foamy milk to add to coffee or tea is enough reason to ditch almond milk.

8. You Eat So Much More

Fruits and vegetables don’t leave you feeling heavy like meat and dairy products do, but you need a lot more of it to sustain yourself throughout the day. I found myself eating a much larger volume of food at a fraction of the calories without feeling uncomfortably full. Stack up a big plate and get ready to go in for seconds because you can.

9. Introducing Jackfruit

I had never heard of this South Indian fruit until I stumbled upon it in the vegan meat aisle. I was confused why a fruit and plant-based bacon were sold next to each other. Jackfruit is surprisingly meaty in texture and taste when cooked. I suggest using it as a meat alternative over any soy-based product. It’s more similar to the real thing, and it doesn’t hinder digestion.

10. Restaurants Are Difficult

It’s really hard to eat out when 90 percent of the menu is not vegan-friendly. With veganism rising in popularity, restaurants are making plant-based options more available and labeling them with a “V” for vegan. In my opinion, cheating on the occasion is okay, especially when you’re paying for a meal prepared by a chef. Being too restrictive can make the transition to going vegan more difficult. So if your favorite sushi roll is speaking to you, it’s better to cave once than give up all together. 

herb, vegetable, cress, watercress
Grace Becker

Though my short stint as a vegan was not personally sustainable, it shaped the way I view and consume food. The carnivorous lifestyle treated me well, but it seems I'm somewhat reformed. I still love a New York strip steak and filet mignon, but I’m equally intrigued by heads of cauliflower and squash soups. Before going on this vegan experiment, I never even thought vegetables could make a full meal. Now, I know they can truly do it all. 

I think I’ll definitely revisit the diet again. Veganism taught me so much about conscious eating, and its benefits were certainly worth the numerous trips to the grocery store. Thanks to this two-week vegan venture, I’m parting with my carnivorous past and looking forward to an omnivorous future.