“I’m going to eat so much avocado toast.” My response to the question about how I’d get through my entirely vegan week was basic, thin and ignorant, but not totally out of the ballpark. As a vegan diet consists of only plant-derived foods, I had embarked on a mission to eat no animals or animal products of any kind for seven days, and since all animals matter in the eyes of a vegan, even honey is off the table. As unappetizingly challenging as the lifestyle seems, what once was reserved for hippies is now turning into a hugely popular lifestyle choice.
I’ve always been very tuned into animal rights, so thinking about trying the vegan lifestyle wasn’t all that ridiculous. I don’t think anyone is maliciously eating their burger, happy that they’ve killed a cute, cuddly cow, so many people put the politics behind them to avoid letting the image marinate in their mind too long. With how modern meat is being processed though, it’s hard not to see the brutality of it all. But still, chicken is good! Hamburgers with sweet dill relish? Amazing! Corn dogs—okay we don’t exactly know where corndogs come from, so let’s just pass on that one. No comment.
I actually became interested in veganism when I was scrolling through YouTube and became erratically and unbelievably pissed off. Kayla Itsines, a vegan ambassador who goes under the name Freelee the Banana Girl, talks about nutritional choices in her online videos. While her name sounds like a children’s health superhero, Itsines’ methods of spreading the vegan lifestyle are anything but friendly. Itsines has been known for her outrageous bullying antics, calling out celebrities for how wrong their diets are while picking at their figures to prove her point. Though she insists she’s only out to help animals and help others get healthier, most disapprove of her antics.
I was livid, so naturally I watched 8 more videos in one sitting. Though my first opinion of her was loathing, her technique worked and she sparked my interest.
Unprepared, I jumped out of the vegan airplane without a parachute, and by the end of the first day I was ready to hit rock bottom. I thought the only things I was allowed to eat had to be green, leafy and smell bad when steamed. While vegetables are a huge part of a vegan lifestyle, crunching on carrots all day isn’t even sustainable enough for a rabbit.
Upon waking up the next day with a splitting headache and remnants of orange still stuck in my teeth, I decided to find other means of energy. Because vegans are becoming more and more common, society has started to offer more options for the lifestyle. Throughout the week, whenever I went out to eat I would pinpoint the vegan option or request it from the waiter. Many people think being vegan is impossible, but in actuality, options can be found within the strangest, most unexpected places.
Even Burger King serves their French fries vegan style!
Chipotle offers sofritas to replace meat, even though most of their toppings are already vegan. Domino’s Pizza serves a vegan crust and Taco Bell jumps on board with their Black Bean Burrito. Though all of these things are available, I was more focused on meals I could eat at home.
Suddenly I was actually excited about eating colorful fruits. I mean really excited. I spent an extra twenty minutes in the produce section of the grocery store, sniffing, feeling and picking fruits until the glares of passersby were too much to handle. I tried dragonfruit, mangos, raw coconut, durian and figs. After a few days of incorporating more fruit into my diet, it amazed me how long I went without the food group and just didn’t even notice.
I didn’t miss meat too much. Surprisingly once it’s off the table you don’t care enough to go find it. Instead, I did what other vegans are experts at—getting protein from other sources—which is critical for anyone trying to go vegan, as lacking protein is an obvious “no no”; you don’t have to be a speed-walking-suburban mom to know that. Eating quinoa, nuts, beans, soy tofu and leafy greens can supply you with an ample supply of protein.
The strangest part of rewiring my diet was the idea of going non-dairy. You’d think the idea gives cereal bowls everywhere night terrors, but in reality it’s a simple swap from regular milk to almond or soy. You could do it blindfolded it’s so easy. Almond milk is one of the most delicious things ever, and dairy-free milk is making a splash with the cute bright blue cow in all the commercials.
According to a Harvard study, it’s actually unnecessary for humans to continue drinking milk after infancy. Humans are the only animals who not only drink milk in adulthood, but also consume another animals’! Funnily enough, after the week was up I drank regular milk and found that it did not settle well with me after feeling completely healthy for those seven days. It made me feel cramped up, bloated and nauseous.
Vegans have a pretty odd reputation filled with aggressive tactics, annoying Instagrams and an obsession with tofu. But the lifestyle has really changed over the years, evolving and becoming more accessible to the every day person.
For me, I felt like I was glowing. That may or may not have involved some pretty magical highlighter that I’d just purchased, but in any case my body felt a lot better. I’m not trying to discourage eating meat because I’m not one to stand on a soapbox and preach, but the aftermath of my vegan week was nothing but positive. In fact it was easy. You heard me, easy.
Thus far I have not gone back to eating meat and try to continue down the path of choosing more vegan options. Maybe I saved a cow or two, maybe my body is sending me thank you’s folded up into happy endorphins.
Enjoying a meal while also doing some good for animals is a combination too good to pass up with the limp excuse, “It’s too hard.” If I can continue to eat vegan, I’ll be making a positive impact on the ecosystem.
One avocado at a time.