Me, vegan? This might come as a surprise to some of you…
I’ve been a happy vegetarian for almost two years now. I once thought that I needed meat, but I proved myself wrong while doing yoga teacher training. The last years I’ve been experimenting with food and reading about nutrition a lot and found myself being more and more attracted to going totally vegan. It’s a bit step to take, so I thought I’d challenge myself and eat vegan for a week, and take it from there. So it was kind of an experiment.
Why would I like to be vegan?
One: I was eating cheese, butter, yoghurt and eggs regularly. Getting into yoga and meditation has made me much more sensitive to what’s going on in my body. And although I love the taste of my bread+butter+cheese I had to admit that every time I eat this it makes me feel terribly tired and sluggish afterward, like I need an instant snooze.
Two: Before my challenge, I only ate organic eggs and dairy, but even then there is no way of knowing for sure that no animals are harmed. I think I have to own my own cow one day… Or actually a couple, as they are really social animals… ;-) Anyway a lot of bad things are happening in the dairy industry, and I don’t want to be part of it. Be the change you want to see…
So what happened in my vegan week?
Day 1: Saturday
Off to the farmer’s market to stock up on veggies. I pass on the cheesecake that looks delicious and when I get back from the market I make some tea. Without thinking twice I add honey to my tea, and yeah, technically my challenge is already over 2 hours after starting… #epicfail
Real vegans don’t eat anything that is made of or by animals and honey is one of those things. Anyway, it’s just a slip, it won’t happen again… I’m not giving up now!
Day 2: Sunday
I have the time to cook lunch and I enjoy being in the kitchen. I made food for 2 days yesterday so for dinner it is convenient I just have to warm things up.
In the evening there is a sangria party. I manage to say no to the rice pudding that was there, freshly made…with milk. Luckily alcohol is vegan… And medronho is the new tequila.
Day 3: Monday
Woohooo pancakes for breakfast. I need something solid… I’ve wanted to experiment with vegan pancakes for a while now so I look up a few recipes on Pinterest and start mixing. Randomly, of course. By the second pancake I become even more adventurous and add some cinnamon to the mixture (if you know me a little bit you know I would add cinnamon to anything), and they taste even better!
For dinner I end up eating cereal. Spent all the energy I had on the vegan pancakes. Note to self: avoid alcohol during vegan challenge.
Day 4 Tuesday
Bad scheduling of meetings today and I don’t have time to prepare lunch so I eat just fruits and nuts for lunch. I notice that too many fruits in a day are not a good idea!
By dinnertime I’m starving and I make palak tofu, an Indian spinach dish that is usually made with paneer, an Indian type of cheese. It’s one of my favourite meals in the world; it has such a vibrant green colour and tastes amazing. But the vegan option is almost as good!
By the way, I have even more energy than usual all day (despite eating only fruits at lunch) and at night I sleep like a baby.
Day 5 Wednesday
I feel like I’m compensating for eating too little yesterday. I’ve been superactive doing yoga and hiking every day, and I feel I need more food. Someone brings carob cake and I have 2 pieces (they were tiny, though ;-))
Also, by this time in the week I would have had at least one meal with eggs already, like an omelet with veggies, but of course I can’t. Not missing it really, it’s just one of my go-to meals when I am in a rush or hangry. That has now been replaced by avo on toast or tomato bruschetta or even rice cakes with humus – yes, that can be a meal…….
Day 6 Thursday
Miracle. I’m not even thinking about cheese. I’m very surprised I don’t miss it. Actually, no cravings for sugar either. I eat my 80% chocolate as usual, but not any more. I don’t get afternoon slumps and I feel that the coffee I’m having is kicking in way harder than usual. Might even have to tone it down a bit!
Day 7 Friday
My go-to breakfast: porridge with almond milk. I’ve been eating this for years and it’s the only thing that keeps me going through the morning. I’m glad it’s not so hard to make it vegan.
I’m out for dinner today, and we go to a vegan restaurant. Didn’t know vegan pizza could be so good! And I would dare to say that the vegan ice cream I had was better than the regular one. Yum. What’s more, it’s the end of my vegan week and except for the honey on day 1, I did it!
- I have to admit I feel amazing. Very tempted to continue with this but I’m not sure I can completely commit to it – yet! I guess I’ll just eat less and less of dairy; that’s how I eventually quit eating meat too.
- It’s good I started this in the weekend so I had some time to prepare some meals beforehand for the next days because eating vegan does involve some thinking ahead and you need to have emergency food like fruits, nuts and cereal… ;-)
- You really need a few healthy recipes that are ready in 5 minutes. Avocado on toast and tomato bruschetta were already part of my weekly menu but now they were the things I always had in the house in case of emergency. Peanut butter, tahini, rice cakes and bananas are the other things I will keep close…
- I will continue eating honey. I don’t add sugar to my food so honey in my porridge or tea is something I am not quite ready to give up.
- Too many fruits (I’m talking 5-6 pieces) in a day are not good for me. The sugar makes me crazy and the next day I am bloated all day. Not great.
- I’m getting better at adding plant based protein to meals which is why I think I wasn’t having any cravings. Well, I didn’t eat more chocolate than usual…
And now I bet you are dying to know – what the flip did I eat all week? :-)
What did I eat in my vegan week?
Although I prepared myself for my vegan week and tried to balance my diet it is far from a perfect meal plan. I did some things I’m not proud of and can not recommend… ;-) But this is how I did it, honestly.
Day 1 – Saturday
Breakfast: 1 orange, coffee
Snack: 1 banana, coffee
Lunch: avocado on toast drizzled with hempseed oil and sunflower seeds
Snack: rice cakes with tahini
Dinner: sweet potato and carrot curry with rice
Evening: almond milk hot chocolate
Day 2 – Sunday
Breakfast: porridge with almond milk, apple, cinnamon, flaxseeds
Lunch: tomato bruschetta and lentil soup
Snack: some cubes of vegan 70% chocolate (ok it was half a bar ;-) )
Dinner: leftover sweet potato and carrot curry
Day 3 – Monday
Breakfast: vegan pancakes with banana and tahini, coffee
Lunch: leftover lentil soup and green salad with pear, avocado, pumpkin seeds
Dinner: cereal with almond milk and banana
Day 4 – Tuesday
Breakfast: toast with peanut butter and banana, coffee
Lunch: 2 peaches, a pear, almonds and some seeds, coffee
Dinner: palak tofu with rice
Evening: almond milk hot chocolate
Day 5 – Wednesday
Breakfast: porridge with almond milk, apple, cinnamon, flaxseeds, coffee
Lunch: leftover palak tofu with rice
Afternoon snack: orange, 2 pieces of vegan carob cake someone brought (they were small…)
Dinner: warm quinoa salad with bell pepper, carrot, chickpeas, raisins, fresh coriander and parsley
Day 6 – Thursday
Breakfast: banana, avocado and raw chocolate smoothie bowl with chia and pumpkin seeds
Lunch: tomato bruschetta and green salad, seeds
Snack: an orange and whatever that was left of that bar of chocolate I had on Sunday
Dinner: broccoli-lentil soup with bread and olive oil
Evening: almond hot chocolate
Day 7 – Friday
Breakfast: porridge with almond milk, banana, cinnamon, flaxseeds, coffee
Lunch: leftover broccoli-lentil soup with bread and olive oil
Snack: some almonds
Dinner: eating out – vegan spelt pizza with veggies and tofu and vanilla nice cream