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Go big or go vegan … never again

By , Opinions Editor  |  Wednesday, September 25, 2013 11:33 PM

This week I wanted to do something radical- something to put me out of my comfort zone and challenge me. For five days, I went vegan. This meant not eating meat, dairy products or any food that included animal products.

The five days felt like one long, awful snacking period.

I like to pretend that the first day wasn’t as bad as I predicted. But I’ll be honest; it sucked. I kept telling myself that it was all an adventure, in hopes that I’d train my brain into thinking being vegan was fun. It wasn’t. At breakfast, I tried soy milk for the first time. Turns out I hate soy milk in all forms. I moved on throughout the day, trying to keep my positive, black-bean-burger-eating self happy.

But at dinner on day one, I almost lost it. CC_COLUMN_GRAPHIC

I was incredibly jealous of my friend drinking milk, but I knew I had to have self-control. That, or I didn’t have the energy to snatch his glass, thanks to my lack of protein intake. I took my sass out on my dairy-drinking friend verbally instead. Sorry, Dan.

The next days blurred together. Usually my meals and pleasant interactions with people are what help me remember my days. Instead, I drifted through the week and had trouble focusing.

I’m a huge dairy fan. Milkshakes, skim milk, yogurt and cheese are my go-to foods. I’ve never craved them as much as this week. I decided on Thursday night that I was going to end my vegan adventure on Friday, instead of following my original plan of holding out until Sunday. I couldn’t do it anymore.

When I woke up Friday morning, I nearly leapt out of bed in anticipation of eating meat that night. And by leapt, I mean stumbled from my lack of nutrition.

It’s not that I wasn’t eating. I did eat; lots of veggies, grains and fruits. Picture what a rabbit eats; that was me. But I never felt satisfied with what I’d eaten. Hummus, jelly, wheat-based snacks, noodles, bread not made with butter, french fries, beans, and tons of fruits and vegetables made up my meals this week. While I could have gone to a grocery store to buy more vegan-friendly foods, I thought trying to make my diet work while eating on campus would be easier.

A vegan-friendly wrap; Red Pepper Hummus, Guacamole, corn and lettuce. This is an example of one of my meals from the week. (Caroline Rode/TommieMedia)

A vegan-friendly wrap: red pepper hummus, guacamole, corn and lettuce. This is an example of one of my meals from the week. (Caroline Rode/TommieMedia)

What I started to realize was that it would be a lot easier if I’d been passionate about my reason for not eating animal products. Instead, it was a self-imposed diet that I really wasn’t devoted to in the long run.

Many of my peers questioned why I was doing this, and some told me not to follow through, saying I’d have a hard time going vegan. One friend sent me constant Snapchats, showing a picture of his angry face and the caption, “Eat meat.” He told me I’d never make it through Tuesday, but I did. Even though I didn’t like going vegan, I made a commitment and went vegan for five days. Well, minus the Juicy Lucy burger Friday night, but that was my reward for making it that far.

I did have a hard time. Not only did I want to consume animal products, I didn’t realize how often things like milk and honey end up in my favorite meal or snack. When I was confused about what I could eat, I read the labels and subsequently punched the food container when the words “milk powder” or “honey” showed up on the box.

Perhaps I didn’t prepare much for this week. I decided the day before to go vegan, not preparing far in advance for the hard week ahead. I didn’t set myself up for success. At first, I was excited about the challenge, but I wasn’t passionate enough about what I was doing, which didn’t help. One of my biggest takeaways from the five days was that it takes passion and devotion for a lifestyle change to be successful.

Would I go vegan again? Maybe for a day, but probably not. Who am I kidding? I will never do that again. If vegan is your thing, go for it. As for me, I’ll be enjoying a smoothie with frozen yogurt and a warm Bosco Stick from the Pit Stop.

Caroline Rode can be reached at rode8318@stthomas.edu.

This item was posted in Opinions and has 7 comments so far.

7 Comments

  1. Emily Dehart
    Sep. 26, 2013 11:48 AM

    Thank you for this article C.C.! I have also tried going vegan for a while, and it is very difficult to figure out what you can and cannot eat on campus. The View has a soy milk dispenser now for those who need it, which is great! If you are planning on going vegan it takes a lot of planning and even more determination. Good luck to those that are!

  2. Athonwy Doherty
    Sep. 26, 2013 1:24 PM

    You didn’t “go vegan”, you tried eating a plant-based diet for 5 days. Big difference. Veganism is not a diet. Veganism is a commitment to animal non-exploitation that happens to include an alteration of diet. Did you stop wearing leather, wool, etc? If not, then you weren’t vegan. If you didn’t do it for the animals, it wasn’t vegan. Please stop misusing the term.

  3. Jimmy Rode
    Sep. 26, 2013 9:57 PM

    I hear almond milk is better.

  4. MJ
    Sep. 27, 2013 4:11 PM

    I congratulate you on trying a vegan diet for week (or nearly). It shows an open mind. However, I think you may have benefited from some research and planning – such as finding out what milk alternatives you might like. There are different tastes to different soy milks, as well as almond milk, flax milk, hemp milk, rice milk, etc. It took me about 1 to 2 years planning before I actually went vegan. The good news is that there are some great (and some aweful) vegan cheeses made from tapioca or nutmilk, that are delightful. There is wonderful ice cream (coconut bliss ice cream is the creamiest). There are also some really great meat replacers that have come out recently, most notably Gardein (they taste fantastic; I have no financial interest in the company). PCRM recommends making some meatless meals based on things you prepare already, such as making a meatless spaghetti, chili or lasagna. 
    I’m sorry you had such a bad experience, and I can appreciate you have been turned-off the vegan diet. I just hope that you may, perhaps in a years time, venture to try a vegan diet again,
    but with a bit more research into what vegan foods you do like, as well as the dietary recommendations (I recommend theveganRD or Vegetarian Resource Group for scientific-based information). Regardless of what you decide, I’m really glad you gave it a shot!

  5. Francesca
    Oct. 2, 2013 11:42 AM

    Try this again, but with a little bit more planning. I fear as though you are giving this diet a bad reputation, one that it does not justly deserve. As I am sure you know this has transformed many a life for the better. The film, “Forks over Knives” does a wonderful job at outlining the extreme health benefits of this diet (available on Netflix). I personally am vegetarian and make it my food priority of the day to eat enough protein. I use organic chunky peanut butter and vegan butter in replace of cheese and butter.  Try VegaOne shake mix (available at Whole foods) this is a great substitute for a meal if your on the go. Try almond milk also in place of soy (not the biggest fan of that either) and more importantly have fun with cooking your food (dinner time I mean) I have vastly increased my culinary skills buy not having meat as my main ingredient. Play and toy with the spices, it will open up your mind and taste buds to a new experience :). Try it again and do another review! I would love to see if there was a difference!

  6. Dylan Wallace
    Oct. 3, 2013 2:44 PM

    I did a 30 day juicing diet where I could only juice fruits and vegetables, eat fruits/vegetables that couldn’t be juiced, and drink protein shakes.  I would have loved to have done a Vegan diet for 30 days, it would have been easy!!!

  7. Geena Maharaj
    Oct. 3, 2013 3:44 PM

    I would definitely urge you to try again. Jumping into anything without much foundation will hardly ever result in success. If you’re willing to put in the necessary preparation and then give it a go, I think you’d be impressed with yourself. Try not to conclude your inability to achieve something without giving it that “pre-effort.”

    Still, you went further than most ever would attempt to, and writing about your experience is another bonus :) good work, CC! Can’t wait to read more of your writing.

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