One (Work)Week Vegan Challenge

SUNDAY, JUNE 15, 2014

This past week, I engaged in a work week vegan challenge along with a few coworkers. This was actually something I had wanted to do for a while, but I was too afraid to do it alone, and none of my non-vegetarian coworkers would join in. Luckily, my team has been very health concious recently, so when I brought up the vegan challenge once again, there were finally some people who would do it with me. In truth, I had wanted someone to suffer along with me as I tried this crazy-for-me diet. 3 other people were foolish enough to join along (let's call them Tim, Ann, and Joe). We agreed to go from midnight Monday to end of day Friday.

There wasn't any real point to this challenge, it was mostly an experiment that I didn't want to conduct alone. To me, there were two open questions: Does being vegan really suck that much? Do I have enough willpower to pull it off? After this ordeal, and as a usual meat eater, I've no doubt in my mind that being vegan really does suck. As far as willpower goes, it wasn't too bad, and I actually enjoyed the taunting from my meat eating coworkers. The biggest test of willpower was when Ann and I lined up for cookie ice cream sandwiches along with the team and had to listen to them tell us how delicious they were. We both held the ice cream sandwiches in our hands before giving them away.

One of the hardest things about the vegan challenge was just making sure that whatever was being eaten is actually vegan. I'm blessed with a full cafeteria at work, so there wasn't a lack of vegan options. However, there are many products that wouldn't expect to contain milk product that do (as Tim can attest to) and some food that appears at work is unlabelled, so it has be passed on, just in case. This was a bigger problem to me than the willpower perspective. I knew not to eat any animal products, but it still could have happened without me knowing. Limiting dairy products and egg presented another problem. Without meat, I usually require dairy products or egg to give me a sense of fullness. It also didn't help that they're required in many breads, desserts and baked goods.

Without meat, my diet mostly consisted of some combination of spinach, quinoa, beets, falafel, hummus and sweet potato fries. To try to add more protein to my diet I also drank a few cups of soy milk a day and ate a handful of almonds. Even with these adjustments, I don't think I got enough protein. Usually I work out on Mondays and Wednesdays, and I was feeling a little more winded than usual after Monday's workout, but Wednesday was terrible. After Wednesday's workout I was very tired, and there was a bit of dizziness. Finding a balance in diet as a vegan definitely seems like a challenge, and something that I did not accomplish.

One small benefit of going vegan was that I realized I could get by eating less. There are two sizes of plates at work, and previously I had always gotten the larger size. As the week progressed, I moved down to the smaller size, mostly because there wasn't enough delicious food to fill up the larger plate. Even with the smaller plate, I came to feel full after meals, so that is something I will continue to try to do in the future. In theory, since my plate will now also have meat and eggs and dairy products, I should have no problem getting myself full.

All in all, going vegan was a worthwhile experience, but something I know isn't for me. Meat is too delicious.

My first post vegan meal, right at midnight