Since my mid-teens I have been very conscious about what I eat and have became passionate about trying to lead a healthy, balanced lifestyle, keen to try every new diet to feature on social media claiming to be the ‘best’. So it was no surprise to my family and friends when I expressed the interest in trying veganism for a week. Yes I got the usual ‘for God’s sake’ from my mum, but I was still eager to go through with it. Thankfully, I wasn’t in this one on my own and had my best friend, and housemate, accompanying me in a week of being vegans (despite the fact that the only thing she had to cut out of her usual diet was honey).
For me, it wasn’t as easy. I’ve been raised in a very carnivorous family, having two professional athletes as brothers, and a very traditional-minded father who thinks it’s not a meal without meat. Although I have never been as meat orientated as my family, I am a big fan of seafood and am partial to a steak every now and again. On an average day my staple diet consists of cappuccinos, eggs, smoked salmon and chocolate (not solely), all of which were now forbidden. So after a frustrating, and surprisingly expensive, supermarket trip, we commenced with vegan week.
Breakfast- Coconut milk coffee (I hate soy milk!), coconut milk oats with banana and maple syrup
Lunch – vegan pasta with vegan pesto and veggies
Dinner- vegan chilli sin carne with guacamole and rice
Snacks- fruit, popcorn, nuts (the same most days)
This isn’t so hard. I can definitely do this for a week. Dinner was very tasty and I barely missed the minced meat. I felt proud that I had managed to so easily go a day without any animal products and hopeful that the rest of the week would be a breeze.
Breakfast- overnight oats with coconut milk and berries, coconut milk coffee
Lunch- sweet potato salad with veggies and balsamic
Dinner- tofu stir fry (I will never be eating this again)
Despite a dinner that really didn’t agree with my taste buds, and an already extreme craving for dairy milk, I was still in high spirits and felt good about how healthy and environmentally friendly I was being. The only real struggle was the amount of organisation it took. In most walks of life I am an organised person and quite enjoy being so, but when it got to 11pm and I realised I hadn’t prepared my lunch ready to take to uni tomorrow, and wouldn’t be able to find anything vegan and filling in the small library cafe, I wasn’t too happy.
Breakfast: Almond milk Coffee, toast with Whole Earth Peanut Butter and banana
Lunch: Vegan pasta and pesto salad with veggies
Dinner: Vegan Thai curry with rice
By this point, standing in line in Costa watching people order their ordinary Cappuccinos was harder than giving up chocolate. I was starting to get hungry more often, and was beginning to feel a little lacking in energy. Being someone that goes to the gym most days and is very used to a high protein diet, I decided I needed more high calorie food to last this plant-based work week without being a hangry mess.
Breakfast: Not 100% sure but Almond milk coffee with some kind of almond milk oats and berries and a banana
Lunch: Veg, hummus and falaffel wrap
Dinner: Vegan Cannelloni at Jamie’s Italian
Breakfast: Smashed Avocado on toast, Almond milk coffee
Lunch: Sweet potato with salad, hummus and seeds
Dinner: Chickpea tagine with rice
Even though I had combated the constant hunger by increasing the amounts of food, I had never wanted a steak more in my entire life, followed by chocolate, followed by a latte, followed by more chocolate- you get the picture.
Breakfast: Almond milk coffee, peanut butter and apple overnight oats
Lunch: Leftover chickpea tagine with rice
Dinner: Bean burgers with potato wedges and salad
My cravings had subsided slightly and I honestly enjoyed my dinner. I was starting to feel a little more optimistic about being vegan and my ability to have some self-control when it came to my cravings.
Late Day 6/ Day 7:
Unfortunately, this self-control was not shared by drunk me, and after a night out consisting of several gin and tonics, I strolled straight into McDonald’s and ordered my usual Chicken selects. After being so close to my target of going a whole week I’d fell on the final hurdle after not mentally preparing myself for controlling the rabid animal that I turn into at the end of a night out.
So overall I enjoyed vegan week. In parts I felt a bit hungry after consuming mostly vegetables all day, and I definitely missed my guilty pleasures. However, I will say that I probably should have prepared more and didn’t fully try the range of different vegan proteins there are available today. On a whole though, the dairy cravings were worth it for the feeling doing good and helping the environment as well as my own health (in all honestly it probably didn’t harm me to cut down slightly on the amount of caffeine I drink). Although, I don’t think being purely vegan is for me, I have definitely adopted a more plant-based lifestyle since trying it, and have cut back on my consumption of red meat to do my bit for lowering green house gases.