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I Ate a Vegan Diet for a Week and Here’s How It Went

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mass Amherst chapter.

If food can be a trend, veganism has definitely become one. Veganism, or the act of eating no animal products is becoming very popular in this era. I decided to challenge myself for a week and see what this trend is all about.

After doing a lot of research, I found fun recipes to make and groceries to buy, I set out to Trader Joes to purchase what I needed to eat following the “High Carb Low Fat” Vegan diet. I focused my groceries on specific recipes I wanted to make rather than just simple ingredients, so that I wouldn’t get bored with my meals. I ended up spending exactly $80.35, which for me is a lot of money for a single week; I don’t usually even spend that much on 2 weeks of food. I decided against purchasing any food replacements because I wanted to try out eating a real vegan diet (ie. egg replacements, vegan cheese and fake meat). 

Let the week begin…

Day 1: Sunday, February 14

Yes,  Valentine’s Day. I began my week of veganism on the perfect excuse of a day to pig out and eat all the pizza and chocolate that my single heart desires. It might not have been the best choice, but I committed to it and I wasn’t giving up already. I ate half of a cantaloupe and 5 strawberries for breakfast because eating enough fruit for an entire family seems to be something vegans do. I love fruit and I felt good and energized afterwards. I decided to cook up a lot of rice later in the day for my future meals and ended up eating it all that day almost right after I made it. Once I started eating, I realized how much my body wanted it. The hardest part of the day was when my friends and I decided to go out to dinner to celebrate the holiday. Nearly everything had some kind of animal product. I ordered sweet potato fries, an Asian sesame chicken salad (minus the chicken of course) and an apple crumble for dessert. At the end of the day, I was actually feeling pretty good. I didn’t feel crazy hungry like I thought I would. I felt satisfied, but not disgustingly full like usual. 

Day 2

I woke up today and was craving scrambled eggs. I was craving them so badly that I thought of having them and starting the vegan week tomorrow. However, I resisted and am so happy I did. I started my day with a glass of water with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to kick-start my metabolism. Then, about an hour later had the other half of my cantaloupe that I cut up yesterday. I made some vegetable soup that I found a recipe for and added quinoa to it to have some extra nutrition and substance. It was delicious, which I was really happy about because I made enough to have for the rest of the week. My mind relapsed a bit though and I couldn’t help but think how delicious some shredded chicken and a dollop of sour cream would be.

I snacked on some Ezekiel toast with peanut butter and chia seeds and made some pasta arrabiata for dinner (enough for a family of three apparently, but I ate it all). Today, I realized the impact veganism was already having on me. I’m not talking in the sense that I could see a change in my body at all, but I was starting to think more of my health in aspects that weren’t just about cutting out animal products.

Day 3

I started off my day with 2 large oranges and a latte with coconut milk from Starbucks. (If you’re looking to cut dairy, definitely get coconut milk. I don’t like the taste of coconut, but I promise you can’t even taste it). About 2 hours later, I became hungry and I decided to give in and get crackers and hummus, which was out of my comfort zone because I’ve never really liked hummus. While I was getting my snack I looked over and saw the containers of sour cream for quesadillas and almost began drooling right then and there. Before my 3 hour night class, I came back to my apartment and cut up three large potatoes and made fries in the oven without using any oil. They were literally just potatoes with some rosemary and a bit of garlic salt on them.

On negative aspect I noticed is that I began to break out! This coming from a girl who thanks genetics everyday for being given naturally clear skin. I was taken off guard when I first began noticing. According to VegFamily, this might be because my body was releasing toxins. This happens until the body feels balanced so it differs from person to person on how long. Well, in that case, see ya toxins!

Day 4

Today veganism seemed to be easier. At work, I bought a hummus pack with tortilla chips again because I began to enjoy hummus. That’s the cool thing I noticed, I began to like some new foods I don’t normally enjoy. After work and class, I went home and was starving, so I followed a recipe that I found on Pinterest for a quinoa and vegetable mix. I made a ton of it and ate almost the entire thing because, like I said, famished. There was quinoa, riced cauliflower, red pepper, celery, cucumber, edamame, carrots, green onions, peanuts and a soy sauce mixture. It was a lot of prep, but it was worth it because it was delicious. Edamame and red pepper – two other foods I never liked before now!

Since I knew I was going to be studying late that night, I made myself a big dinner so I would be prepared. I bought a vegan pizza crust and put oil, garlic and oregano on it as a “sauce” and added fresh tomatoes and basil, but I have to say, it was so boring and all I wanted was to add some pesto and mozzarella to it. 

Day 5

Having a packed schedule this day and 2 exams on top of that, I wasn’t even thinking about food most of the day. When I returned home I realized that I didn’t even have to think about eating vegan. However, having a surplus of solely vegan food at my disposal gave me only one option, to eat vegan. I ate a significant amount of food until I was full. I have found myself listening to my body much more; I eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m full.

Day 6

Today, I got frustrated. I was starving at work and went to the café right next to my office to get some food. Everything had meat, cheese or egg and I just wanted food. I went and got a smoothie and another hummus pack instead, but was not satisfied. I also had a staff meeting and my boss wanted to order Chinese food. I am obsessed with Chinese food, so imagine my disappointment when I had to skip the General Tso’s chicken and resort to the egg-less vegetable fried rice and mixed veggies. I am proud of myself for sticking with it though (do it for the Her Campus article, right?).

Day 7

I think because I knew today was the last day, I was becoming so over my week of veganism. My roommates’ friend brought over brownies and not being able to eat them was driving me nuts. I also decided to be adventurous and try a recipe I found online for General Tso’s Chickpeas (I was still upset about missing out on real General Tso’s from the night before apparently). I like hummus now but I didn’t know if I was going to like actual, whole chickpeas. I made an entire can and put them on a bed of rice and mixed it together… only to learn I absolutely hate chickpeas, so that was pretty unfortunate.

I decided to switch to some simple spaghetti squash that I already knew I enjoyed and when midnight rolled around, I actually celebrated that I could eat pizza again (and General Tso’s obviously).

Final Verdict:

Throughout the entire week, people continuously asked me how it was going — expecting me to complain. I couldn’t give them that satisfaction because it wasn’t that bad of a week overall, actually quite the opposite. As someone who doesn’t eat dairy often anyway, switching to a vegan diet seemed to be a bit easier for me than I think it would be for others. I went grocery shopping beforehand so the only food I had in my cabinets was vegan food. I also think something that helped was how I went grocery shopping for recipes I had found ahead of time. I was excited to try out the dishes and I wasn’t eating boring meals that I would get sick of quickly.

I am aware that a week of a vegan diet is not going to allow me to see big changes, but I did notice some specific, minor differences in how I felt. The main thing was that I never felt disgustingly full like I do sometimes with my regular eating patterns. I was eating a lot of food but I was eating good, healthy food. I never felt the need to go and buy unhealthy food or get desserts. Veganism made me think of my health in a more in-depth way. I also noticed that I felt surprisingly energized. When you start thinking of your food as fuel, you realize that what you put into your body can greatly impact the rest of your day, nevermind the rest of your life. 

As much as I enjoyed this week, I can’t say I am going to continue it. Veganism is definitely something I would have to ease into gradually. I can say that I do see myself going vegan later in life when I can afford to buy good quality foods in abundance, but I am really happy I tried it out. I opened myself up to new foods and found some vegan meals I really love. 

Interested in trying out veganism? Do as I did. Go to YouTube, Pinterest and do your research. Doing so will give you a good feel for what foods you can eat and how much you should be eating, because one thing you want to make sure you don’t do is deprive yourself of calories. Happy eating!

Photos: 1, 2, all others courtesy of author

Currently a hard-working, self-motivated, dominos-loving business student at UMass Amherst. Not only am I an avid reader of HerCampus.com but I am also a proud member of both Her Campus UMass Amherst and Her Campus Blogger Network. I am working towards my goal of moving out west and getting into marketing for the beauty and fashion industry.
Contributors from the University of Massachusetts Amherst