Earth Day Challenge: Our Vegan Adventure

Vegan Week

Hi everyone! We’re Maddie and Zoё, two vegetarian humans who collectively have gone 7 years without eating meat. To celebrate Earth Day, we decided to challenge ourselves to following a vegan diet in order to raise awareness about the environmental impact not eating animal byproducts creates.

Day 1:

Being vegan is hard. Seriously. Things you would not have thought twice about consuming before suddenly become big red “X’s” on your meal plan. Everyday things you take for granted, like coffee creamer, butter, even honey are no longer options because they have ingredients in them that are made by animals. Here are some things we noticed being vegan for the first time today:

1)      Meal planning takes a lot more thought than you think.

2)      You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone (we’re talking to you, cheese).

3)      Eating trail mix for dinner is a bummer when you smell your roommates pizza in the oven.

4)      You kind of always feel hungry.

5)      Everything becomes very ~regular~ with the amount of fiber you consume.

Tomorrow we’re looking forward to getting more culinary with our new vegan diet. But first, late night snacking on Ruffles Original potato chips.

Day 2:

Today was a busy day for both of us and having to focus on consuming enough calories was very important to keep our energy up. Because we are not getting the same kind of calories in carbohydrates that we are used to, eating smaller meals more frequently has been helping curb appetite and keep hangry Maddie and Zoё at bay. Our RA came by earlier and offered us free pizza (aka the only good news your RA ever has to tell you) to which we had to unfortunately decline. Something that has been helpful, however, is keeping busy and staying out of the house. There is less time to day dream about beautiful melty cheese on golden crust when you are running errands and keeping busy with school work. Today we learned:

1)      Peanut butter is the key to success.

2)      Mexican food is good, and filling, even without cheese.

3)      You…err…start becoming irregularly regular.

4)      Healthier plant based snacks quickly replace unhealthy things you had not even noticed you were eating before.

5)      No one really knows what being a vegan means.

Day 3:

I think we are starting to get the hang of this whole vegan thing. Today, we talked to people with other dietary restrictions about how they manage their eating habits to get a better perspective on how food is different to every individual. For example, our friend who is allergic to dairy reveled in the idea of not being able to eat meat while our other friend who is gluten free shared our same feelings about missing real bread. After speaking with these individuals, we concluded that the best way to stick to a new dietary restriction is routine. Once you get the hang of what food to buy or restaurants to go to everything becomes a lot easier; the sense of normalcy really is a huge contributing factor. Shout out to our roommate Ashley who brought home vegan cookies for us tonight, neither of us has had chocolate in three days so that was an absolute god-sent. Things we learned from being vegan today include:

1)      BYOA: Bring Your Own Avocado…seriously put it on anything and you make a boring vegan meal becomes 10000% better.

2)      Changing up what kind of fruits and veggies you are eating everyday makes a huge difference.

3)      Rice is a necessary vegan staple.

4)      Chipotle is incredibly vegan friendly (but we already knew that Chipotle is Chipotbae).

5)      Vegan cookies are good. Like, REALLY good.

Day 4:

Today was filled with events that involved some sort of free food. Gotta love college, right? While events like this are easy to navigate on a vegetarian diet (cheese pizza for days), they absolutely DO NOT provide a vegan option. Maybe something to consider if you plan an event in the future? Even a veggie platter would've been more than enough.

 

1)      Most tortilla chips are made with milk products, but shout out to Tostitos for making a vegan-friendly option.

2)      People WILL NOT understand when you turn down both pancakes and bacon at said events.

3)      Ditto to ordering a wrap at the deli.

4)      In fact, being vegan is weirdly socially unacceptable. Say the words "I'm vegan", and you may as well be saying "why yes, I do have three heads".

5)      Publix does have lovely veggie platters in case you were wondering.

Day 5:

LAST DAY OF VEGAN WEEK! We waited until after midnight and then gorged ourselves on celebratory Lazy Moon pizza. This experiment certainly was eye opening for the two of us, even as people who normally have dietary restrictions. Looking back on the week as a whole, there were certainly tough times where only eating plant-based food became challenging. Our busy schedules and lack of culinary ability made food preparation a little harder than expected. Other extenuating circumstances (like being hung over or starting girl time) increase these challenges when all you want to do is swim around in pools of mac and cheese and chocolate.  Overall we learned a lot about being vegan, but here are the 5 main things that we took away:

1)      If you think you need more fruits and veggies in your life then try being vegan, it will help you stick to eating healthier.

2)      Hummus, rice, peanut butter, and tofu are your best friends.

3)      Educating people on what being vegan meant was probably one of the more important aspects of this experiment.

4)      It is easier to try and be vegan when someone does it with you (misery loves company).

5)      Cheese is great, but so is having a sustainable source of food for future generations.