For about a year I’ve wanted to go vegan, and after eating all the meats and sweets during break, I decided it was the perfect opportunity to try a vegan diet. How’d it go, and will I continue? Keep reading to find out.
For about a year I’ve wanted to go vegan for a week or so, and after eating all the meats and sweets during my Thanksgiving break, I decided that the following week was the perfect opportunity to try a new diet. My reason for going vegan isn’t necessarily a protest against animal cruelty (though the meat industry does need some improvement) or eating cute animals in general, but more focused on the health side of things. Over the years I’ve discovered that I have a lot of food intolerances (dairy, eggs, onions, chocolate/sugar, and possibly gluten), and I wanted to experiment to see if I feel better eating a vegan diet. I did some research on what vegans do and don’t eat, so I tried to eat as vegan as possible at the dining facilities on campus. The following is a list of what I ate throughout the week. Further down on the page are the results, a review of the documentary Fed Up*, and whether or not I plan to go vegan again.
Breakfast: walnuts, apple, peanut butter
Lunch: sweet potato, steamed carrots/broccoli/cauliflower, sandwich (whole wheat bread, lettuce, tomato, hummus, cucumbers, pickles), mushroom soup, applesauce
Dinner: (I forgot to record this. whoops.)
Snacks: Nature Valley crunchy granola bar
Breakfast: banana, granola bar
Lunch: Quinoa Tabbouleh, mandarin oranges
Dinner: Black bean soup, sandwich (whole wheat bread, lettuce, tomato, hummus, cucumbers, pickles), Rice Chex cereal, soy milk
Breakfast: walnuts, banana, cheerios
Lunch: green beans, zucchini, carrots, white beans in tomato sauce over rice, applesauce
Dinner: gardenburger, Rice Chex cereal, soymilk
Breakfast: walnuts, banana
Lunch: spinach salad with broccoli, chickpeas, kidney beans, corn, mandarin orange, peaches, sunflower seeds, balsamic vinegar dressing
Dinner: tater tots, apple
Lunch: gardenburger, quinoa with steamed mixed vegetables, applesauce, toast with grape jelly, sweet potato fries
Dinner: zucchini, baked beans, Mexican rice with beans, broccoli, applesauce
Snacks: Ritz crackers with peanut butter
Breakfast: Rice Chex cereal, soymilk, grapefruit
Lunch: sandwich (whole wheat bread, lettuce, tomato, hummus, cucumbers, pickles)
Dinner: gardenburger, vegetable soup
Snacks: walnuts, soymilk, fruit smoothie, chex mix
Breakfast: Ritz crackers with peanut butter, Rice Chex cereal, soy milk
Lunch: sandwich (whole wheat bread, lettuce, tomato, hummus, cucumbers, pickles), waffle
Dinner: gardenburger, sweet potato fries, applesauce
Snacks: oatmeal cookie, granola bar
During the week I ate similar foods to what I usually eat, just making sure they were vegan. Monday and Tuesday I felt great: my stomach was full and I felt energized during my classes, not feeling drowsy like I usually do after lunch. I did get hungry earlier than normal and sometimes found it difficult to find vegan options, but I felt like I was off to a great start. Wednesday marked the turn-around period for me. All day I was cold and tired, so much so that I couldn’t drag myself to the gym. Instead, I took a long nap after classes, snuggled under my warm covers. Thursday was about the same. I actually went to the gym, but was only able to sit on the floor and stretch. I was so worn out. My tiredness continued the rest of the week until I stopped, but on Friday I began to experience stomach pains from all the fiber I was eating (whole grains plus fruits and vegetables). By the time Sunday rolled around, I was ready to stop.
Summing up my vegan experience, I felt great mentally, but physically I couldn’t continue. I tracked the foods, calories, and nutrients I ate with SuperTracker*, a government run website I’ve found very useful in learning about, tracking, managing, and setting goals for my diet and fitness levels. I think my fatigue was caused primarily from a lack of protein and possibly also a sugar detox. Below is a picture of my vegan week compared to the month prior.
Obviously my diet was a lot different and a lot healthier (except I needed more protein and probably more calories). Looking at the very bottom, there is a drastic change in my empty calories (solid fats and added sugars), which surprised me because I don’t drink soda and I try to limit my desserts. I suppose the empty calories were coming from white bread, dairy, and meats. All those hidden added sugars can really pack a punch, and as I wanted to learn more about them, I looked up a documentary to educate me on how added sugars can add on pounds.
Fed Up Review
Tuesday night I was taking a study break and stumbled upon a documentary titled Fed Up*. It had been on my “watch later” list for some time, and I decided that my study break was the prime time to learn about sugar, obesity, and corrupt American industries. It was interesting to see the difficulty of finding food without added sugar, and how just eating more fruits and vegetables won’t necessarily help (if not fresh or frozen). The documentary followed a few children on their food journeys. Their choices at home and especially at school gave a reason for their childhood obesity. I found the documentary very interesting in pointing out that added sugars are adding on pounds, but I found it lacking in more information concerning food options without added sugars, what reforms are being created, and what hope there is for the future. Overall, this documentary was somewhat entertaining and informative, but its purpose seemed mostly to be an entertainment scare factor and accusatory finger towards the “big companies” and failed solutions (such as Mrs. Obama’s efforts with “Let’s Move!”). Fed Up was a good study break, but left me wanting more information on how I can personally live a healthier life without added sugars.
WILL I CONTINUE?
Though this week didn’t turn out as wonderfully and transformative as I wanted, it did show me the pros and cons of going vegan. It was kind of like a trial run where I figured out what “going vegan” exactly means and what I did right and wrong. So will I try it again? YES! I’ve done some more research, and I now realize I need to eat a lot more protein if I plan to not only go about my daily business, but also exercise. I may not have succeeded the first time, but how I mentally felt about myself and my choices gave me a taste of a better life, which I want to try out again. I’ll probably ease back into school after winter break, but keep an eye out for another vegan week, month, year, or perhaps even a lifetime sometime in the future.
*This post is not sponsored, and all opinions are my own.