At the beginning of January, Andrew and I decided on a small challenge we could take on that could potentially improve our lifestyle. Neither of us is into resolutions so we were looking to do something temporary which could teach us some sort of life lesson. After further discussion, we decided to go vegan for a week.
We are both big on protecting the environment and animal welfare, but we also love our food, especially cheese for me and red meat for Andrew. Being vegan for a week seemed like the perfect way to learn more about a diet that is better for mother nature and would help us reduce our animal product intake.
Well let me tell you, it wasn’t remotely as easy as I thought! This experience was a real eye-opener. So if you are considering going vegan for a week, a month or life, keep reading. I am sharing with you my food diary but also our lessons learned and what habits we may be adopting for life.
My week as a vegan, the food diary
Let’s do this! Both Andrew and I woke up energised by the idea of trying something new for a week! My usual breakfast happens to be vegan already so not much change here: good old Fruit ‘n’ Fibre, oat milk and a black coffee. I am set for the day!
Lunchtime! Ok, what vegan food do I have in my fridge… Ok… Not that. Nope. Not vegan. Not vegan either… Aha! Some frozen vegetable patties ‘suitable for vegan’, perfect! And I guess I will just have a lot of greens on the side. Not the most flavoursome but filling enough.
3pm, my stomach is starting to rumble in need of an afternoon snack… Yet it seems that no snack in my house is vegan so I find myself nibbling on pine nuts and capers (yep.). Not my proudest moment.
Finally, it is dinner time! I am invited to one of my friends who is happy to cook something vegan for me. She did a vegan cauliflower and chickpea curry, it is delicious! We end the meal with very difficult to find vegan sweet treats – tasty vegan rocky roads and rather less tasty (too dry) millionaire’s shortbreads.
24 hours in, I am pretty much fluent in vegan now. Breakfast is the same than yesterday and the past year – cereal, oat milk and black coffee.
Oh wait! No, I am not fluent at all! What on Earth can I have for lunch… I have some sad carrots in my fridge which I made a bit snazzier by glazing and roasting them with honey (fancy me!) and I grab a box of falafels at the local shop, lunch sorted.
3pm – I just realised in horror that honey isn’t vegan at all… This is a very sad day and I am now filled with guilt. I choose not to snack in respect to the hardworking bees (also yet again I have no vegan-friendly snacks in the house).
For dinner, Andrew and I opted for the easy option – soup! The one we have is similar to daal so pretty filling and tasty. I also finished the box of falafel because it was open and there were still some. For ‘dessert’ I am trying vegan cheese, it is bad, soooooo bad, like horrendously bad. My French self is crying. I go to bed.
Breakfast is the same old same old. Note to self – up my breakfast game.
I am spicing things up for lunch with a vegan chilli, aka all sorts of beans, tomatoes, sweetcorn and all the spices I could find in my cupboard.
3pm – contemplating in front of my fridge for a good 5 minutes if pickles with dijon mustard are an acceptable vegan snack. I have a clementine instead.
I toss all the vegetables I have in a roasting tin for dinner. I call it “winter vegetable casserole” to make it sound more exciting. I am also constantly hungry now, yet I eat more calories than on a regular diet. Clearly being vegan won’t make you slimmer!
Breakfast – you’ve guessed it!
I grab a Pret A Manger vegan wrap for lunch. It is very tasty and doesn’t ‘feel vegan’ at all (if that is even a thing)!
I try vegan chocolate. I like vegan chocolate. I finish the vegan chocolate bar.
I grab a vegan hot cocoa during my last meeting of the day at Gail’s. It is excellent, I am never going back to regular hot chocolate ever again!
I come home very late and eat a couple of rice cakes before crashing in bed.
Yep. still the same.
We finally do vegan groceries and we are shocked to see how many products contain derivative of eggs, milk or bee products. Picking vegan meals can be like finding a needle in a supermarket-size haystack.
I am out again for lunch and buy Pret A Manger second vegan sandwich option. Again it is very decent!
3pm – I found vegan gummy sweets! I am very happy!
It is Friday evening, so for dinner, we share a vegan pizza with BBQ pulled jackfruit. It is really good and oh so satisfying! Jackfruit is the way to go!
Finally! 6 days in and breakfast is getting a bit more exciting! We just discovered that bagels are vegan so we cover a couple with olive oil and avocado. Bliss.
For second breakfast (yes it is a thing on weekends in our household) we have vegan doughnuts from Crosstown Doughnuts. A cinnamon one for me and peanut butter and jam for him. Yum!
We may be full but we are not skipping lunch! We eat vegan spinach ravioli with olive oil and pine nuts. Honestly, they are better than the non-vegan supermarket ravioli!
I am having Gail’s vegan hot cocoa again. Still good!
For dinner, Andrew feels like something a bit more indulgent so I offer to do the vegan curry my friend cooked for me on Monday. It is good, and we top it off with Ben & Jerry Chunky Monkey vegan ice cream for good measure.
The last day of vegan week starts with bacon and eggs on toast. Just kidding! I was just checking if you were still awake. I am back to a less exciting cereal and coffee breakfast.
We decide to escape London and drive to the seaside as it is a very sunny Sunday. Andrew Googles “vegan restaurants in Ramsgate”. It must be our lucky day as we find a vegan fish & chips shop! Shakey Shakey is the first fully PETA-certified one in the country, it was meant to be! Portions are extremely generous and I cannot even finish my To-fish (basically tofu wrapped in seaweed and fried).
We end our very last day of being vegan with tomato soup, some rice cakes and vegan humous. I go to bed dreaming of camembert.
The main lessons I learned being a vegan
In all seriousness, we are very happy we took on the challenge to be vegan for a week. It was a real eye-opener into how difficult it can be to adopt this diet. Most products we find in supermarkets have eggs or milk in them and restaurants still have limited vegan options.
It can also get very dull and plain if you don’t plan your meals a bit more and identify some tasty vegan recipes. I would also recommend doing a shop in advance to have plenty of vegan options in the house, otherwise, you may end up like me and snack on capers.
More surprisingly, we ate more calories than we would usually do on a normal diet but we snacked a lot less than usual. I think because we commonly eat a fair amount of carbs which contain eggs our bodies didn’t feel as full as they usually do and our appetites weren’t always satisfied.
I now truly respect anyone who makes the decision to fully commit to this diet. It is work and even the most mundane meal out can be a bit more of a faff. There are also products like vegan cheese or vegan cakes which are just not there yet. I would miss the originals too much if I couldn’t have them anymore.
Habits I will keep from my vegan week
All that being said, being vegan got easier as the days passed and I am definitely planning to be vegan some days of the week in the future!
It was a bit scary to realise how much animal products I was eating, sometimes without even knowing. The experience made me more aware of what I put in my body.
I am now considering meet more as a treat. If I want a burger I will have one. But, I will either buy the meat from my local organic butcher, or I will pay the price and go to a nice restaurant (no McDonalds for me anymore). I am also taking a moment to acknowledge where the meat in my plate comes from and silently thank the animal for it (Marie Kondo style).
I didn’t miss meat and fish at all actually. My main struggle was with cheese, I love my cheese and I don’t think I could ever give it up. So I am now a vegetarian/part-time vegan/treat yo self to a burger every once in a while. The environment will be better for it, many animals will be spared a miserable life and I will probably end up a bit healthier.
So, what do you think? Ready to be vegan for a week? Or life?