Testing the trend: vegan for a week


Part of one of my healthy vegan dinners

Angie Gulizia, Editor in Chief

After watching what seemed like an endless amount of “What I eat in a day: vegan edition” youtube videos posted by fit, smiley teenage girls, I decided to see what the vegan hype was all about and go animal-product free for one week. This wasn’t going to be an easy task, though, and I needed moral support–so thankfully my good friend Mekiah decided to do it too. I’m Italian and strongly believe that cheese should be its own food group, so I was preparing for a week of straight up death. However, my interest in the claimed pros of veganism kept me motivated throughout all of my parmesan-inflicted cravings.

Veganism didn’t go viral for no reason. An article on Healthline.com references multiple studies that claim cutting out animal products does wonders for your health, including promoting weight loss and protecting against certain diseases. An article by Independent UK also references studies that show veganism could “reduce an individual’s carbon footprint from food by up to 73 percent” if everyone went vegan. Obviously, not everyone is going to go vegan, but every little bit counts for something.

Like anything, there are cons to going vegan. It isn’t the most convenient thing; most restaurants aren’t vegan-friendly, and it usually requires some meal prep (not another salad!). A vegan diet isn’t always a healthy one either, since Oreos, Thin Mints, and other desserts are vegan. Even meat substitutes (vegan chicken nuggets for example) and coconut yogurt can be high in bad additives and saturated fats. Protein is also tough to get, so you have to eat a lot of chickpeas, beans, grains, and legumes.

I’d like to make it known that going vegan for only a week won’t allow me to experience all the health and environmental benefits. I did experience a lot of the cons, though, which makes me a bit biased. My love of cheese doesn’t help either. Kudos to anyone who’s full-time vegan, because my week alone was tough, and it wasn’t perfect either. Your girl here accidentally ate a cookie on Valentine’s day because she forgot she was vegan, and accidentally used pesto sauce with cheese in her lunch on Friday.

Vegan breakfasts were an okay adjustment. I ate cereal, oatmeal, smoothies, and embraced my inner basic you-know-what with some avocado toast. I also bought two little containers of coconut based yogurt. Let’s just say, the other one is still sitting in my fridge. Not being able to put milk in my coffee was the most difficult part of the challenge by far. I’m not a huge fan of almond milk, so it just wasn’t the same.

For lunches, I ended up eating a lot of pasta, which goes to show you again that eating vegan isn’t necessarily eating healthy. I also brought some Thin Mints to school and shared them with Mekiah. Best Thin Mints I’ve ever tasted. I did eat some healthy lunches too. I threw together an assortment of healthy snacks or had leftover stir fry with a bunch of vegetables.

Dinners were tricky. My dad usually cooks, and our food is almost ready when I come home from gymnastics. On those nights, he made me a vegan version of the meal we were having since homework takes up most of my evening. The other nights, I cooked for myself. My black bean burger was pretty gross, but I made up for it by eating some more pasta the next night. I think I have an issue.

Overall, I can totally see why some people choose to go vegan because it made me more conscious of what I was putting in my body. I was always thinking about what I was eating, so I noticed when I was eating unhealthy. I also ate a ton of fruits and vegetables, which some people might have trouble incorporating into their diet otherwise. Veganism might not be for me, but this week-long experiment was actually a really fun, and I don’t think it would hurt for you to give it a shot either. You never know what you might learn about your food or yourself.

Photo via The Healthy Family and Home under Creative Commons license.