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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.