Posted by: Kennedy | February 14, 2011

Challenge completed: Reflecting on my week as a vegan

Today is Valentine’s Day, and you know what that means…

The 7-day vegan challenge is officially over, and I’m not too modest to say: I rocked it!

Or, in the words of the wise and wonderful Barney Stinson: “Challenge completed.”

You might expect me to be breathing a sigh of relief  – and mowing down on a juicy burger with lots of cheese.

Believe me, that’s what I was expecting too.

Turns out I learned a lot this week, and not just about what it means to be a vegan – though I certainly do have a newfound respect for my vegan friends.

What I was right about:

–       You need a plan. Without sitting down to plan my meals for the week and stocking my fridge with vegan-friendly foods, this week would have been so much harder. When cravings came a-calling, I handled them fairly easily for two reasons: 1) the foods I was craving (ahem, cheese) were nowhere in sight, and 2) I had alternatives to reach for. Seriously – a little planning goes a long way.

–       I definitely don’t need to eat meat every day. Not saying I’m going full-out vegan or even vegetarian, but this week has made me realize that I probably could stop eating meat without too much fuss. I didn’t really crave it. However, I also didn’t spend any time at a summer barbeque or a steakhouse… I feel as though the smell of a juicy steak would have done something to my willpower. Last week, Tracy blogged about being a “flexitarian,” and I think I fit into this category. I eat a largely vegetarian diet, with some meat thrown in on occasion. And the healthier the meat (read: organically raised), the better.

–       Eating at home helps – a lot. Some of my fellow 7-day-veganers experienced challenges while dining out this week, and I am not at all surprised. Unless you’re heading to a vegan, vegetarian or raw food restaurant, you’re likely to have to ask a lot of questions about the menu and/or order a salad – possibly without dressing. I made almost all of my meals at home, meaning I had all the control. And the few times I did eat out, I chose more vegan-friendly options like sushi to make life a little easier. But if you have to eat out regularly, I can see how vegan food options can fast lead to taste bud boredom.

What I didn’t expect:

–       I drank less – much less. Even though some beers and wines aren’t vegan, I did not plan on cutting out any alcohol this week. For me, the challenge was about food. And yet somehow, the only booze I drank in the past 7 days was a single glass of red wine. Granted it was 9 ounces, but still – one glass! That is not my normal. A possible reason for this: I socialized less. Staying in to eat meant I wasn’t tempted to order a glass – or a bottle – of wine with friends at dinner. While I appreciate that cutting back on the wine is good for me, I’m not willing to sacrifice my precious social life to maintain my vegan status. Friends trump food (when I’m forced to choose, that is).

–       I ate less. By this, I mean I snacked less. My meals were around their usual size, but they seemed to satisfy me for longer. This was probably due to all the fiber in the veggies and beans that found their way into virtually every lunch and dinner. It just goes to show that you don’t need lots of animal protein to sustain yourself. Having said that, most of the snacks I did have were pretty light and didn’t tend to last me very long. Some days, I was definitely longing for a nice hard-boiled egg.

–       My cravings weren’t that extreme. Yes, I wanted to eat cheese this week. Sure, I would have enjoyed the odd egg. And for some reason, on Wednesday I was dying for a pastry. But for the most part, I wasn’t overcome with longing for my forbidden foods. Again, I credit this to the fact I was prepared. Out of sight, out of mind, as it were.

–       I practically stopped drinking coffee – and didn’t really miss it. While I’m starting to get used to coffee without sugar, I definitely can’t drink it without milk. Some coffee places still don’t have alternatives, and in those places I opted for tea, which I can drink black. When I make coffee at home, I use almond milk – but I don’t really like the taste… so I just didn’t make any all week. I finally broke down and ordered a very expensive soy latte at S’bucks yesterday morning. It was different, but not too bad. Overall lesson: I CAN actually survive without coffee. Good to know.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed participating in the 7 day Vegan Challenge. I got to experiment with new recipes, figure out which animal products are lurking in the foods I assumed were meat-free (hello, sugar??), and most importantly, I have a bunch of awesome blogs to add to my reader! Thanks everyone for sharing your experiences – you all did a fantastic job.

And I must give a special shout-out to Morgan for organizing the whole thing and inspiring so many of us to follow in her footsteps. Thank you Morgan – you rock!

Now. Time to contemplate the kind of pizza I’m going to order tonight… you can bet one of the toppings will be extra cheese.

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Responses

  1. It certainly was a fantastic learning experience, thanks for sharing…and for the shout out 🙂

  2. Nice post. I tried the challenge too, and I really liked it. I only ate out one time, and it was to a vegan restaurant. Otherwise, I agree it would be hard.


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