I Went Vegan for a Week and Here's What Happened

Vegan: noun. A person who vows to never eat animal products, including but not limited to: milk, cheese, eggs, honey, beef, pork, and chicken. Usually highly criticized for their choices.

I used to have one word for vegans: how? I honestly have never really understood veganism. How could you give up everything that comes from animals? What do vegans eat? What do a lack of animal products do to the body? What about mentally? After a week of being a vegan, I can finally answer these questions.

Veganism is a lifestyle

Vegans have always been kind of a thing of fairytale for me. I had never met a vegan or even known of anyone who was a vegan until recently. For lent, my little sister decided to go vegan to see if she had the willpower to do so. I went home for spring break and saw her eat pretty vegetables and check labels for dairy products, and I thought “hey maybe this isn’t as hard as I thought.” Veganism isn’t a diet. Veganism is a lifestyle. It’s a choice to eat foods that are good for your body and the world around you.

Being vegan isn’t easy

I thought this week was going to be a walk in the park. Not eat meat? Okay. Exchange regular milk for soy milk? Sure thing. Pass up on pizza for vegetables? I’ll survive. I was pretty cocky early in the week. Especially the first two days when the dining hall had a great selection of vegan food for me to try. On Wednesday, when the dining hall had a scarcity of vegan food, the light at the end of the tunnel started to turn off and the short seven days of veganism seemed to never end. I had to work to find food I could eat. I had to check labels. I had to check the dining hall app to see what the ingredients in the foods were. For the first time in my life, I actually had to think long and hard about what I was eating. I couldn’t eat my favorite granola bars because they had honey in them. I had to exchange eggs and sausage for oatmeal every morning at breakfast. I had to pass up on really good thai tea because it had a dairy creamer in it. Let me just tell you this, being a vegan is not easy by any means. I was only a vegan for a week, but now I have a lot of respect for people that commit to being a vegan as a lifestyle.

Reasons to be vegan

I thought that vegans' only reason for passing on animal products was because they thought that animals didn’t deserve to die, or that animals were mistreated. I thought that if you didn’t want animals to die you could just be a vegetarian and have a silent conscious or you could even be a vegan if it made you feel better. I love animals, but I never really thought that I was a bad person for eating meat and animal byproducts. After my sister became a vegan, I researched veganism. It was a growing trend nowadays, but I still thought it was just by animal lovers who had watched Food Inc. one too many times. In my research I stumbled upon the movie, Cowspiracy. Cowspiracy is a movie about how the number one cause of climate change and the degradation of our environment is animal products. As a self-proclaimed environmentalist, I was astounded by this news. I now had the knowledge that the best way to help combat climate change in my own tiny way is to not eat meat or animal byproducts. Recycling isn’t enough, walking instead of driving isn’t enough, taking shorter showers isn’t enough, (even though these are all great things to do also.)

Fun fact: Cowspiracy was produced by Leonardo Dicaprio who is a vegetarian.

Vegans get overly criticized

If you tell a person you’re a vegan, you’re going to get a crazy look. People assume you’re crazy and pretentious. They go on long rants rationalizing to you why they aren’t a bad person because they eat meat. As if you have been a vegan your entire life and frown upon people who eat meat as if they are eating your pet cow, Betsy. Vegans are vegan because they made a lifestyle choice, not because they want to look down on you.

What I ate

This week was spent eating a lot of fruits, oatmeal, rice, and veggies. It wasn’t that bad of a week when I wasn’t craving pizza (which I was 99% of the time). I ate much healthier than I usually do, not because veganism equals eating healthy but just because my favorite kinds of unhealthy food usually are smothered in cheese. Giving up cheese was hands down the hardest part because it’s so easy to just sprinkle cheese on any dish and automatically put it out of the running for things I could eat. Never ever take cheese for granted, people.

How I felt being vegan

I somehow felt better when I was a vegan. I tend to eat obscene amounts of dairy in any given day. I didn’t realize how gross I felt when I ate dairy until I gave it up. I felt pretty good as a vegan physically. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t magically get a crazy amount of energy or gain I.Q. points or anything like that, but I didn’t feel like my body was missing anything either. Mentally I felt great. I felt like I was actually making a difference in the world. It was nice.

How I’m going to eat after a week of being vegan

After being a vegan for a week, I don’t think I can go back to my old eating habits, at least not to the same extent. I really didn’t miss meat or eggs at all during the week. I didn’t realize that meat and eggs grossed me out until I had the option of not eating them. I always just thought “Oh, I guess I should eat meat” even though I don’t have to. After being a vegan for a week, I’m going to hopefully be a vegetarian and cut down on my animal byproduct intake because I know what being vegan does for my body, my mental state, and the environment.

I challenge you to be vegan for a week and see how it affects you and your lifestyle!

 

Cover photo by Alexandr Podvalny on Unsplash

Article photo by Dan GoldSimon Matzinger, and andrew welch on Unsplash