The student voice of St. George's Independent School.

I saved animals for a week

Diary of an almost six-day vegan

  • I pose with my vegan snacks. I purchased the snacks on Day 1. (Photo: Ms. Veronica Yates)
  • I sit in the dining hall and wait to eat lunch. On Day 2, I tested how vegan-friendly our school lunches are. (Photo: Matthew Blum)
  • I eat bell pepper tacos. The tacos were my favorite meal that I made on Day 3. (Photo: Iona Yates)
  • Junior Megan Umansky eats a baby tomato. On Day 4, Umansky taught me about the importance of snacks. (Photo: Iona Yates)
  • I reach for a nonexistent steak. On Day 5, I finally broke veganism and ate a hamburger. (Photo: Matthew Blum)
  • I thank the Lord that my week of veganism is over. On Day 6, I reflected on my week. (Photo: Elise Fong)

When I decided that I would be vegan for a week in order to write this story, people immediately giggled and started betting on how long I would last.

“You’re not going to make it through the first day,” junior Bayard Anderson said.

Being a self-proclaimed lover of meat and cheese, everyone knew this week would prove to be a true challenge for me. No meat, no dairy, no honey and not even orange juice.

“Why are you doing it if you’re not getting paid?” was the first thing people said when I told them my plan. However, I’m not going to sell my body out for veganism. This is for the sake of a beautiful story.

Day 1: New aisle, new life

Vegan grocery shopping is like being transported to a magical land of food you didn’t know existed in your local grocery store. My excitement was at an all-time high while running throughout the aisles of my local Kroger, Super Target and Whole Foods. I had researched vegan meat options before becoming a vegan, but what confused me about these options was why in the world they would ever exist. Isn’t the point of going vegan to expel meat and all the flavors that come with it?

I did end up purchasing vegan meat because I am a carnivorous lady and love a good steak. I was amazed with just how much they tasted like the real thing. I got BeyondBeef & BeyondChicken, which have half the fat of meat and all the protein, and these lovely products changed my relationship with meat forever.

Day 2: Vegan meats SGIS

What does eating in our lunchroom for a vegan mean? Of course I knew that I could eat at the salad bar, but I wanted to see if the action station or the hot line had any options. I was dealt my first loss of the week, or “L” as the kids are saying, at the action station because the food of the day was a wing bar.

When I headed to the hot line, the main entrée was fried fish and it was accompanied by quinoa bake and corn. The fish obviously wasn’t an option, but the quinoa bake and corn seemed like my best bet. I had to ask the lunch staff several questions just to make sure that the food didn’t have any of the components I couldn’t eat, and with my luck, the corn had to have butter in it. My last option was the quinoa bake, but as soon as she began serving it, the long strings of cheese unfolded. Therefore, sad vegan Iona’s only choices for fulfilling lunch were salad and Ms. Vicki’s delicious chips.

Day 3: Fending for myself

I am no Barefoot Contessa in the kitchen. Up until the tender age of 13, I have been forbade from cooking in the kitchen because I am a terrible cook. I have loved watching the Food Network ever since I was a little Iona, and this made me think that I would be a natural in the kitchen. Because my family did not consume the same meals I did this week, I needed to kick my culinary skills into motion. Cooking vegan food isn’t necessarily hard if you have culinary skills, but boy, is it time-consuming. My favorite vegan meal I made during this challenge was bell pepper tacos. Even though I was doubtful about vegan meat, I came to realize that I had to eat it for its protein components.

Day 4: Vegan guru goals

I was perplexed to find that junior Megan Umansky, my vegan guru, would pull out baby tomatoes and eat them in a rapid fashion. Many questions rose in my head, like why baby tomatoes? Who likes baby tomatoes? Second, what did they do to deserve this? Lastly, why did she eat them so fast and in such large quantities? A revelation about these baby tomatoes and Megan hit me as soon as I became vegan: snacks are crucial. Most vegan foods are low in calories, so you can eat whatever you want. This was the holy grail for me because a girl’s gotta eat.

Every day of this challenge I enjoyed packing my snacks. I found nuts (cashews), butter (almond) and fruit (apples) were great. Some days I would eat all of my snacks within the first three periods of the day, leaving me nothing for later. Tip of the day: Space out your snacks, or your stomach will attack you physically and emotionally.

Day 5: Missing the meat

If we were scoring me vs. veganism, then I took my final L on day five. The day started out like any normal Iona vegan day: eating large quantities of food and feel-
ing good. This day in particular was an odd one because I slept over a friend’s house the night before, so I wasn’t able to eat as much as I normally would in the morning. This hadn’t gotten to me until later in the day, when my stomach started to betray me. You know when your stomach starts to hurt with hunger? Well my newfound vegan stomach was hurting on a whole other level. I went downstairs immediately to eat, but it didn’t even fix the problem. In this moment, I took the final loss of the challenge and I broke veganism. I had a glorious hamburger, and I don’t regret it.

Day 6: #BlessUp

As I reflect on my “week” of being a vegan, there are many gratifying and crummy memories that come with it. I am happy that I did this challenge, considering it wasn’t easy in the slightest. Being vegan has showed me just how important is it to understand what is inside the food you consume. Knowing exactly what you are eating can make you consume better things but also want to eat better.

Also, eating small snacks and small meals throughout the day is one thing I found myself doing often throughout the week. This is something I still do now because it is so much better for your body in the long run. One thing I must stress if you are going to become vegan anytime soon is to not go cold turkey on the process. I did this, and I can assure you that taking the time out to plan for it weeks in advance will give you better results than just five days.

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