When I was 7, I told my mom I was going to be a vegetarian. She laughed, and two hours later asked if I wanted a burger. I succumbed to temptation and haven't held myself to any meatless dietary restrictions since. It never seemed like a possibility for me. My favorite foods are tacos, burgers, and pizza. So to go vegan for week would totally disrupt my life and challenge me to think more about my food choices. It was terrifying, interesting, and ultimately rewarding.
I had to make an extensive trip to the grocery store because the only things in my fridge were meat and dairy-based. I decided to try a stir fry with vegan chicken tenders, bok choy, carrots, and onions. It was delicious, if I do say so myself. I went to Disneyland later that night, however, and agonized over a small list of vegan options around the park. Churros aren't vegan! Corn slathered with butter is vegan! Bread bowls aren't vegan! I decided to skip eating at the park and had leftovers when I got home.
Image Source: Habitually Hungry
Unsure of how to navigate breakfast as a newfound vegan, I googled "vegan cereal" and was delighted to find out Reese's Puffs are 100% vegan. I paired the cereal with a coconut/almond milk blend, which served me loyally all week. I usually have honey in my tea every morning, also, but I had to nix that sweetness for the week and had plain tea instead. For lunch, I decided to try a cool recipe from the internet; pasta with no-cook avocado sauce. I cannot stress how delicious and simple this was! However, I added meatless meatballs which just weren't tasty at all. Only about an hour after lunch I realized I was hungry again so I used leftover avocado to make guacamole and nibbled on chips and guac until my small microwavable vegan burrito for dinner.
A kind of embarrassing fact about me is I eat chocolate every single day of my life. My mom passed down her love of chocolate to me and there is always some form of that smooth and delicious treat in my house. My third day of not eating chocolate was terrible. I realized that my body was totally not prepared to jump straight into being vegan because I was hungry all day. I finished my leftover pasta for lunch, and when hunger struck almost immediately after, I felt myself yearning for chocolate. But I stayed strong and, instead, snacked on some dried banana chips and internally cried as I watched my mom eat chocolate cake.
Five days of eating vegan and I think I'm getting the hang of it. I still cannot believe how many innocuous things are not vegan at all. Surprising still, Oreos are vegan! After kale spring rolls for lunch, I went to a Korean spa with my friend Lexi and the intention of eating at their food court. Their vegan options were very limited so I settled on fresh watermelon juice. Still hungry when I got home, I warmed up a sweet potato and had it totally plain; a first for me!
Image Source: Vegan, Vegetarian, and Raw
Girl Scouts started selling their cookies and I was totally tempted by their adorable faces and the thought of Thin Mints, but I resisted. I had vegan Pad Thai for lunch. I had a suspicion that it might taste terrible, but it was very similar to the usual egg and pork version I get. For dinner, I went to a vegan restaurant in my neighborhood and was stoked to find a vegan BLT on the menu. After my experience with meatless meatballs, however, I was wary of a baconless BLT. I was pleasantly surprised by an awesome and filling sandwich with a side of cajun fries.
I woke up from a dream about eating an ooey-gooey chocolate chip cookie. Veganism was hitting me harder than I expected. I had another vegan burrito for lunch and decided to focus on my vegetable soup for dinner. It was soup-er easy to make! I cooked up vegetable broth with sage, bay leaf, rosemary, and garlic, and added potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, tomatoes, and onions. When I was still feeling peckish after dinner, my mom reminded me it had been six days since I'd had meat and the beans in my burritos were not cutting it, protein-wise. So I had some cashews and almonds and tried to think of anything but cookies.
I was thankful for the existence of falafel today. I went to a Greek restaurant, and the falafel wrap was their only vegetarian option. I swapped the yogurt-based tzatziki sauce for sesame seed based tahini sauce and made it vegan. It still tasted great! I finished my vegetable soup for dinner and reflected on my week's experience.
A week of veganism is nothing compared to people who dedicate themselves to eating without meat or animal byproducts. Lifelong vegans should be proud of their dedication because it is hard. I felt somewhat lighter all week, but effect was voided a bit by how hungry I was all the time. Clearly, I would have to stick to eating vegan for a much longer amount of time to get over my chocolate cravings and get my stomach to cooperate. However, it was interesting to find out how much of the food on our shelves and in our restaurants use some form of animal byproduct, and it was fun to try new meatless recipes. I held myself accountable through the week, and sticking to something so drastically different from my normal life made me feel accomplished and strong. That being said, I can't wait to eat a cheeseburger tomorrow.This post was originally published on ASTRAL & OPAL