I’m that girl who can eat a rack of ribs in one sitting…easily. I adore wing night and I crave juicy steak at least once a week. On a daily basis, I workout a lot, so protein is my everything. Sometimes I’ll have up to three pieces of grilled chicken or a massive piece of fish with dinner. You could easily say that I am a carnivore.

But one thing I love in this world, more than my meat eating habits, is a challenge. This week I challenged myself to go vegan. My day-by-day of food choices and challenges are chronicled below:


sweet, chocolate, candy, milk
Lucy Bedewi

My typical dorm snacks are essentially yogurt, cereal, and milk, and pounds of milk chocolate. If I were going to do this vegan thing, I knew I needed to buy some tools. I went on Amazon and ordered a box of Simply Protein Bars in the Chocolate Peanut Butter Flavor and dark chocolate chips to munch on.

A girl on my floor was going to the 24-hour Shop, so I asked her to pick up some almond milk for me. The night before consisted of me loading up on grilled chicken and eating my last burst of chocolate chip cookies.


chocolate, cake, chocolate cake, cream, mousse
Lucy Bedewi

Breakfast: I had some vanilla coffee today with a pack of sugar. My vanilla creamer will have to stay out of my morning coffee for the next week. For my food, I grabbed so many things that I thought would be okay, then read the label and put them back. I decided on a handful of pistachios.

Lunch: I went to lunch at the 251 North dining hall. I had intentions of heading straight to Sprouts (the vegan dining station), but I noticed the “Ciao” Italian section had both vegan quinoa and lentils, so I grabbed some of that. Then I went and got myself some pineapple cilantro sushi from Sprouts. My lunch was pretty yummy, but I started feeling hungry again after about 20 minutes.

Snack: I held in my hunger, but after my 2 pm class, I ran to the café in McKeldin Library to get myself a snack. On the way to the café, I was so hungry that I legitimately contemplated catching the squirrel I saw and eating it. But that wouldn’t have been vegan. In McKeldin, I found a dried fruit and nut mix instead.

Dinner #1: I went to The Diner and actually was able to create a meal without visiting Sprouts. It was mostly vegetables—some stir fry from the Asian section and cauliflower from the Chef’s Special section. Then I threw in some lentils. I have never relied so heavily on lentils. I also grabbed a smoothie. I learned that many of the smoothies are vegan (assuming it’s not a yogurt smoothie).

Dinner #2: I went back to The Diner after I had volleyball practice, because I was starving! I needed some “meat." At Sprouts, they had pieces of tofu chicken. It was super white, lifeless chicken, but after tasting it, I can’t judge anymore. It was honestly delicious.

I grabbed a good portion of that, along with a little more stir fry veggies and some diced potatoes. After dinner, I wanted something sweet, so I found vegan cheesecake. It’s essentially cake, let’s get that straight. You’re getting a square of cake, not cheesecake. But it was satisfying; I barely missed the animal products in it.

I ended my night with a snack of some dark chocolate. It was a good day, I’d say. Veganism was off to a great start.


chocolate, cake
Lucy Bedewi

Breakfast: I had an exam this morning, so I needed something substantial. Pineapple and oatmeal. Okay, so not substantial at all, but it was something. To be honest, your choices for a vegan breakfast in The Diner are extremely limited. I might have even cheated with oatmeal, because I assumed they made it with water, but then it occurred to me that they might use milk. Mistakes happen.

I also made some coffee. I filled up a thermos with some almond milk from my dorm, then added coffee and a couple packs of sugar once I got to The Diner. I really miss my vanilla creamer.

Lunch: I was so proud of my lunch today. I went to The Diner, headed over to Sprouts and got garlic “chicken," rice and beans, and stir fry vegetables. Thus far, this was my most complete meal and actually left me feeling full.

Snack: Despite being hungry, I didn’t have time to hit up any of the dining halls. I grabbed a vegan protein bar and a handful of dark chocolate chips. Then, I went to a friend’s dorm to work on a group project. Luckily, her dorm was well stocked with food so I had an apple, peanut butter on a slice of wheat bread, and a cup of English breakfast tea.

Dinner: I went back to The Diner for a real dinner around 10 pm. Just my luck, it was wing night. I just walked straight, because if I made eye contact with one of those wings it would have been all over. I decided on a scoop of rice, some lentils, carrots, and a smoothie.

Late Night: You couldn’t not stress eat while watching the US election, so I loaded up on some Mega Stuffed Oreos, dark chocolate, and handfuls of Frosted Flakes.


broccoli, salad, rice
Lucy Bedewi

Breakfast: It was an insane morning, so I just shoveled in some sunflower seeds on the way to the business school. 

Lunch: When I think of a vegan diet, the stereotypical meal that comes to mind is what I ate for lunch at the South Campus Dining Hall. It was a vegetable bowl that consisted of spinach, mushrooms, seared tofu, bean sprouts, green beans, and quinoa. It was okay. I felt healthy, but I also felt like a bunny.

Snack: I had to do some hardcore studying, so I needed coffee. At the Starbucks express in Rudy’s Café, I ordered three times because every order I started I quickly realized that there was something in it that was non-vegan. I eventually got a soy latte with a bowl of berries.

Later: I got hungry again (surprise, surprise) so I opted for some hummus with pretzel crisps.

Dinner: My dinner at The Diner was a little bit of everything. I started at Sprouts and grabbed some rice, stir fry vegetables, and tofu in a brown sauce (I know, so descriptive). Then I went to the Chef’s Special section to add in some snap peas, cauliflower, and lentils.

Late Night Cravings: Luckily, I had lots of dark chocolate chips back at my dorm so I ate a massive amount of those. After that, I noticed that Thin Mints are vegan. My roommate had a box of those so we had fun snacking on those too.


cereal, wheat, sweet, corn, cornflakes, oatmeal cereal
Ashley Dyrhaug

Breakfast: I woke up insanely late today, so I had a completely to-go breakfast. I had one of my protein bars and a cup of vanilla coffee with almond milk. You’d think by now I would have gotten used to the taste of almond milk, but it’s just not assimilating into my taste buds.

Lunch: This was another one of those meals where I had a little bit of everything. Snap peas, lentils, cauliflower, tofu “chicken” nuggets, stir fry veggies, and an apple…I’m starting to get into a routine.

Snack: That lunch actually filled me up pretty well. I grabbed a fruit cup and sipped a vanilla latte with almond milk from Starbucks before my exam.

Snack #2: I had a CHAARG workout after my exam so I needed a quick pick-me-up. I grabbed some apples and peanut butter from the union shop just so I wouldn’t pass out while doing push ups.

Dinner: I was too lazy to hit up any dining halls so I just went straight back to my room and ended my night with some good old cereal and almond milk. My cereal of choice was Pumpkin Spice Life.


nut, pistachio, meat, vegetable, apricot pits, almond, hazelnut
Lucy Bedewi

Breakfast: I had a very relaxed breakfast today with an apple and a cup of coffee. This would be my last day of subpar coffee add-ins.

Lunch: I was in Stamp for lunch and they honestly have very limited vegan options for Dining Dollar-accepting restaurants. I headed down to the Union Shop again and grabbed some apples and peanut butter and pretzels and hummus. Despite getting good protein, I still felt very empty.

Snack: I ate a solid five serving sizes of trail mix in a desperate attempt to feel full, but that was a horrible mistake. I just felt heavy afterwards, but still strangely weak.

Dinner: I didn’t want to go to dinner, because I was so full. I actually felt pretty sick and just wanted to lie down. My roommate got me up and out so I had some tofu and lentils.

Late Night Snacking: It was honestly just a couple of jolly ranchers. How nutritious.

The Takeaway

salad, vegetable, lettuce, fruit salad
Danielle Cahoon

I've gained a new respect for vegans. The amount of foods that contain animal products is more than I ever imagined. Little things like marshmallows and Hershey’s kisses I picked up and put down. Everything with even the slightest bit of butter I had to say “no” to. I had some very interesting movie nights with unsweetened dark chocolate instead of instant mac and cheese like I usually have.

At the same time, the vegan challenge was far more doable than I expected it to be. The dining halls make it very easy because they label everything with the little purple “VG” circle for vegan. I had a wide variety of choices while I stayed on the meal plan, but once I left the realm of the dining hall, the outside world of restaurants makes veganism close to impossible.

In terms of how I felt, it varied. The first day I was so exhausted I fell asleep at 9 pm. I don’t think I took in enough calories that day. On the fourth day, I felt fantastic. I seriously considered going vegan for longer than just my five days.

It was on the last day that I was ready to eat animal products again. Beyond feeling weak and generally not well, I was getting frustrated. I was done with passing up Chick-fil-A and not being able to fully participate in ice cream socials.

There are some new eating habits that I will take away from this experience. I learned that I love tofu and I’m slowly but surely getting used to almond milk. It’s awful in my coffee, but I didn’t mind it in my cereal. I also want to eat more quinoa and lentils. They are a protein source that I used to completely disregard.

Even though this week taught me that I could be vegan, I don’t think I ever will be. It’s not even because of my meat cravings.To me, food is social, a way to relate. It’s part of my Middle Eastern culture to sit down and have a meal filled with scrumptious Lebanese dishes like kibbeh and baklava.

One of my favorite things is to travel. In travelling, trying new foods is part of the experience. Saying "no" to trying something different would make me have more regrets than eating a piece of grilled chicken. I think veganism is great both environmentally and healthfully, but my lifestyle and view of food makes it a dietary path that I could never take.