It’s no surprise that when it comes to diets, there’s an overwhelming amount of different types- some peculiar, some common, some even hardcore. As a hungry, always-on-the-go college kid, I’ve never exactly partaken in any diet (unless you consider pizza rolls and easy mac a diet). Yet, while reading many magazines and perusing articles online, I started to realize one diet that’s been on the rise in popularity: the vegan diet.
What exactly is the vegan diet? “Oh, isn’t that just not eating meat?” asked my roommate Jenn, as I told her I was starting a five day journey of no pizza, goldfish, or cheese- pretty much, all the things I eat. Like Jenn, many people assume the vegan diet is the same thing as being a vegetarian; in reality, the vegan diet comes down to a stricter set of beliefs thus, unfortunately for me, a stricter diet. Going beyond eliminating the meat, fish, and poultry that vegetarians cut out, vegans also cut out dairy and eggs (sigh).
While it was hard, and at some points tempting to join in with my friends and pig out- especially when one of my friends came back for the weekend after being home [in Washington D.C.] with a big fat cupcake from Georgetown Cupcakes for me, but I stayed strong and fought the urge! In the end, I managed to lose five pounds! Here is what I ate, how it affected my body, and what I learned from the vegan diet:
Day One: “Uh…. Katie, you can’t eat that.”
The first day sucked. I spent my day envisioning a cheeseburger. My day officially hit an all time low when I ran to the veggie burger station in my school’s cafeteria, and went to go get a piece of cheese on top, only for my roommate to say “uh… Katie, you can’t eat that.” Not going to lie, it was a depressing moment. I’d never had anyone deny me the right to cheese before.
I decided to try and improve my day by getting a vanilla latte with soymilk, but it didn’t help whatsoever. I don’t know if it was the latte or the fact that I got soy milk, but it was unpleasant. Throughout the day, I felt insanely hungry; I realized I’d have to work on getting more protein and substantial foods in. I pretty much spent all day eating chips and guacamole. I decided to take a nap, but it probably wasn’t my best idea. When I woke up, my body felt weak, and my cravings for some fatty foods were unbearable. I pretty much ended the night wanting to crawl into a hole.
Day Two: “It’s 7 degrees and I want Mac n Cheese.”
Of course, I decided to go vegan during the coldest week in Pittsburgh. Waking up and seeing the weather reports that it “is 7 degrees but feels like -10” really made me look forward to not being able to pig out (the cold weather always makes me want to eat like a cow).
Despite my burning desire to go to Noodles and Company and get some mac n cheese, I grudgingly ate my protein bar for breakfast. The bar filled me up, but throughout class I felt extremely light headed. My body was taking a while to adjust to eating less and healthier.
My day was made when I realized I could eat peanut butter and jelly! After savoring my delicious sandwich, I did realize that I felt more awake despite my lack of sleep, and I was in an overall better mood than I usually am. When you go vegan, you cut out unhealthy foods from your diet that clog up your body, making you feel tired and slow. Also, animals are treated with hormones; thus, when you eat meats, you’re ingesting these hormones that disrupt your moods- explaining why vegans tend to be in higher spirits.
Day Three: Hey, this isn’t so bad!
Wednesday= hump day! By day three, I was feeling pretty accomplished, healthy, productive, and awake. It didn’t even feel like I hadn’t been eating cheese or meat, and the diet was becoming pretty routine for me. I was slightly upset when I went to my favorite salad place: Hello Bistro and realized I couldn’t get chicken or crumbled blue cheese. Also, I never knew that salad dressings can be a big issue for vegans; it’s unclear which dressings contain which ingredients, or what they’re processed with. I just stuck with olive oil and vinegar.
The idiot that I am, it took me until Wednesday to realize that I could be eating pasta. So, when I went to dinner with my roommate and her family, I ordered whole wheat pasta in olive oil. It was delicious and super filling!
By Wednesday, I started to realize that I wasn’t getting hungry as often. Also, I felt like I could totally cut back on snacking once I got back to my normal diet- and I would definitely eat those gluten free cookies after this week. I spiced them up by putting some peanut butter on top- instantly delicious!
Day Four: This is cake!
By Thursday, the diet was feeling pretty routine- but I was running out of different foods to eat; I ate a veggie burger for the third time in five days. Everyone kept asking me how I was surviving and saying they couldn’t do it for a day. Before I started, I felt the same way. After the first two days, it’s a lot easier than you think. It really helped my mood, cleared my head, and made me feel more awake. I feel so much healthier, and it’s helped me get my snacking in check.
Day Five: The final stretch
When I woke up on Friday, I kind of felt like I was saying goodbye to a close friend after a week with them! It honestly was a struggle at times, especially when I was with my friends and they were eating junk, but I’m glad I never caved, despite everyone trying to get me to give in (what good friends). Although I wasn’t necessarily doing the vegan diet for the usual ethical reasons that most people do it, I definitely want to continue eating the same vegan meals that I did for breakfast and lunch; it’s easy to for these meals, but dinner is definitely a struggle, so I’ll leave that one open for my usual fatty foods. It makes you realize the healthy foods you can be eating, and that if you stick to a routine, it really isn’t hard to be good!
On an even better note, I weighed myself before I started the diet, and again once I successfully completed it. After just five days of going vegan, I lost five pounds! Now who’s not to say I’ll gain it back within a week, but if I stay good and continue eating vegan [at times] I will hopefully keep them off! Going vegan may seem foreign to you; I sure as hell didn’t think I would survive it- but it was a worthwhile learning experience that I would suggest to anyone brave. I will say though to cheese lovers like me, begin at your own risk!