It’s the time of year where everyone is trying to live a healthier and more fit lifestyle with New Year’s Resolutions and Spring Break bodies in mind. Lately, I have found myself trying to make better food choices, going to the gym more, and setting goals for myself. There are thousands of different kinds of diets out there that you can choose from to change your lifestyle including paleo, vegetarian, and even vegan. I have gone vegetarian in the past but never really thought I could accomplish or sustain a vegan diet. This week I decided to challenge myself with the task of going vegan and here is what happened:
Honestly, I was a bit scared to attempt this. What am I going to eat? Am I going to starve? Questions kept flooding my head. So naturally being the foodie I am, I searched for the most delicious vegan dishes I could make. Avocado pasta, vegan mac and cheese, and pesto spinach quinoa stuffed tomatoes? That sounds pretty good, maybe I'll actually survive this. Going food shopping was next on the list. Trying to find things like soy cream cheese and nutritional yeast seasoning was quite a production. Only spent about two hours in Stop and Shop… no big deal. But their organic, natural food section is actually amazing! You should most certainly check it out if you haven't already. I have to take being vegan just one day at a time, that's all I have to tell myself. One day at a time.
Being vegan means you really have to think ahead about what you're going to make or have for all of your meals. Running out the door to catch a train to the city for work and finding out that my peanut butter granola bars that I took with me are in fact NOT vegan was a surprise to me. The day was alright, but it was really hard when your co-workers are tempting you with Magnolia Bakery and all you want is that red velvet cupcake with cream cheese frosting – which is certainly not vegan. But, another day was a success and the avocado pasta I made was delicious, as I am a ~lover of avocados~.
Halfway there, woo! Honestly, even though it had only been three days in, I felt really healthy. I felt energized and ready to take on my day. I was going to the gym, making sure I wrote down the foods I was eating, and planning ahead to try to stick to the diet without making any more mistakes. It was a bit easier to distinguish what I could and couldn't eat, but it wasn't any easier not having cheese in my life. Also, my pesto spinach quinoa stuffed tomatoes I made may or may not have morphed into a dilapidated little meal.
If you ever decide to go on this little adventure, be aware that your friends will definitely try and tempt you with the foods you miss the most – which will make it that much harder to stand your ground. For example, maybe your roommates will keep naming your favorite meals and restaurants, or even eat burrata cheese with prosciutto right in front of you! But stay calm because you know that there isn't much time left of this diet and you have been doing great. It was a little bit easier knowing I was able to make vegan versions of my favorite dishes, like this mac and cheese. Your body is also thanking you for all of the nutrients it is getting from all the veggies and fruits you’ve been eating, especially when you decided to drunk eat carrots at 2 a.m. instead of pizza. Yes, that happened… multiple times.
FINALLY! Today’s the last day of being vegan. Today might have been the hardest because I knew that I was only hours away from being able to have anything I wanted or craved. While I was thinking ahead about having all of the bacon, egg and cheeses I want, I decided I really will incorporate more vegan meals and/or staples into my life. I've learned much more about what goes into my body by always having to check the ingredient labels this week. I made it one whole week eating vegan, only with minor casualties like the granola bar and that cup of tea with honey. It wasn't easy, but I do think that there was a method to the madness. Planning out clean, vegan meals helped me to feel more energized, skinnier, healthier, and accomplished.
All in all, going vegan was quite an experience, although it may not be the life for me – especially considering my long-standing relationship with the world’s vast variety of cheeses. However, it really taught me more about my own eating habits, pushing me to make better food choices as well as teaching me to pay more attention to what ingredients make up much of the food in my pantry. It really is a healthy lifestyle choice that takes dedication, preparation and great restraint. Props to all you vegans out there!