No Meat, No Cheese, No Ice Cream - My 5-Day Vegan Challenge

5 days. No animal products.

I’ve heard a lot about vegan and plant-based diets. Some people are strongly for going vegan, while others are totally against it. I wanted to see for myself what it would be like to follow a strictly vegan diet, so I decided to challenge myself to do just that for five days.

Before I get started with the challenge, here's a little background about me. I’ve been a pescatarian for two years, meaning I eat fish, eggs and dairy but not red meat or poultry. Since I didn't eat meat anyway, I didn’t think it would be too hard to follow a vegan diet. But I soon realized how limiting it really is. Being vegan means that you don’t eat any animal products, including meat, fish, eggs and dairy. This means some of my favorite foods (cheese, milk chocolate, anything with butter) were off the table.

Monday:

For breakfast, I usually drink coffee with almond milk every morning, so thankfully I didn’t have to change anything there. I went to the dining hall for lunch, and no surprise, my options were very limited. I ended up eating roasted potatoes, brussels sprouts and honeydew melon. Thankfully, my dining hall always has vegan desserts - I got a lemon cookie and I couldn’t even tell it was vegan! For dinner, I went to the dining hall again and got spaghetti with marinara sauce and “Italian veggie balls,” which were definitely not a good meatball substitute. Overall, my first day going vegan wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be, and I didn't really feel much different. 

Tuesday:

For lunch on Tuesday, I was too lazy to go to the dining hall, so I had some microwavable quinoa rice mix and some fresh fruit. One thing I noticed pretty quickly is that it’s a lot harder to get enough protein while eating vegan, so I got hungry within a couple hours of eating. I came back from class absolutely starving and devoured an apple with peanut butter. For dinner, I had veggie soup, mandarin oranges and some fruit snacks (most fruit snacks have gelatin, which isn’t vegan, but the Mott’s ones that I ate don't). Tuesday was a little harder than Monday. I felt hungry most of the day, and by this point, I was seriously craving some chocolate.

Wednesday:

For lunch at the dining hall, I had sweet potatoes, black bean soup and cantaloupe. I got super hungry again before dinner, so I snacked on some popcorn (without butter) and fruit snacks. For dinner, I had a microwaveable quinoa bowl that I picked up earlier in the week. I was still really craving chocolate for some reason. Most chocolate isn't vegan - but thankfully, Oreos are! I tried to focus on getting more protein on Wednesday, and I definitely ended the day feeling better than I did on Tuesday.

Thursday:

I got fruit, some pita bread and hummus made by a local Mediterranean restaurant for lunch. I also found out that sour patch kids are vegan, so I obviously had to get some of those too. For dinner, I ordered a burrito bowl from the dining hall. It was actually super easy to make it vegan, by just leaving off the cheese and sour cream that I would normally get.

Friday:

I went to the dining hall for lunch on Friday, and I was super excited to see that they had brussels sprouts again (I know, it’s weird, but I really love them). At my dining hall, there’s an option to order a personal pizza with whatever toppings you want, so I got one with veggies and vegan cheese. The vegan cheese was definitely nothing like the real mozzarella, but the pizza was still pretty good. For dinner, I had another microwaveable quinoa bowl, fruit and carrots. I was feeling pretty healthy until I got super hungry later at night and ended up eating more Oreos and way too much chips and salsa.

Overall, eating vegan wasn’t too hard. I could always find something to eat, but I couldn’t eat a lot of my favorite foods. I felt pretty good physically while I was eating vegan, but I don’t think I was getting enough protein because I felt hungry a lot of the time. It’s definitely possible to get enough protein on a vegan diet, but it’s a lot harder.

Maybe the biggest change I noticed during the week was my skin. The entire time I was eating vegan, my skin was totally clear. On Saturday night, I celebrated being able to have dairy again with a milkshake from Chick-fil-a, and the next morning when I woke up, my skin had broken out. I don’t know for sure of the change in my skin came from eating dairy, but it’s definitely possible.

As far as the future, I don’t know if I’ll be going vegan any time soon, but I would like to try to follow a more plant-based diet. Eating a vegan diet is definitely possible, it just involves a little more planning and a lot fewer options - and, thankfully, Oreos.