Vegan week challenge (a review)
In order to expand and challenge my perception of food and healthy food, I decided to go vegan for a week. It turned out to be easier than I expected, for some parts. In total it was very inspirational and most importantly, for me, delicious!
To me being vegan always seemed a little extreme. I am very pro animal rights, but never thought about being more active in it. My kitchen policy so far has been ‘less meat – but better quality’ and though I never aimed for it, I’ve noticed that I often cook vegan, but it wasn’t something I had a political opinion on or statement interest in. Exploring all kinds of food with Amandish gave me a bigger interest. And I also always wanted to learn how to cook good tofu!
I started off by making myself a full meal-plan for the whole week in order to eliminate hungry-cheats, and it was important to me to not lack any vitamins or especially protein.
Peta has a 2-week meal-plan and I picked from it, what I found interesting, but a bigger part of their suggestions contained pre-made food or substitutes, which I really wanted to avoid. I try to use food in my cooking, that hasn’t been too processed and buying pre-cooked ‘cheat meat’ was a no-go for me.
A daily meal for me would for example be cereals with raisins and soy milk for breakfast (surprisingly delicious!), a salad with a piece of bread with humus or another sandwich spread and for dinner a meal that could have been with meat, but just made vegan – like this lasagna. And I ate delicious the whole week!
The social side of going vegan was one of the things that surprised me the most. Peoples reactions were unbelievable. Everyone had an oppinion on it and though everyone was supportive, there’s was always a feeling of ‘you’re crazy’ to it. Portia De Rossi once said, that she found it easier to tell people she was a lesbian, than that she was vegan and after just a week of going vegan I can see why that might be true.
Going out to lunch and dinner in the city turned out to be, well… impossible. Me and couple of friends wanted to go out for dinner in Amsterdam on a Saturday. I had already been recommended the site http://www.happycow.net, which is a site where you can tap in your city and see where there’s vegetarian/vegan-friendly restaurants, supermarkets and so on. We went to a restaurant for lunch, that we found on that site, but the kitchen didn’t open until five. Bad luck. We walked down the street and came across a little place called Lite/Dark that had a lot of vegetarian options and we ended up eating cheese, though still no meat.
I realize it was full on ‘cheating’ but finding a completely vegan place seemed not possible. Even better preparing probably could have helped us, but that wasn’t the case. Around dinner time we went back to the first restaurant called Golden Temple which definitely wasn’t disappointing!
The other, surprising, side to going vegan for a week, was the health matter. I already knew that a full stomach feeling from a meat-dish feels different, from one without meat, but I must admit that my body felt really great during this week.
I had also foreseen that eating vegan would included a lot more vegetables and probably fewer calories, if you keep it clean.
For the first 3-4 days I would get an extreme headache in the afternoon. Painkillers worked like a charm every time, but I got curious on the possible connection, between my change of diet and the headaches. Some sites suggested an increased use of soy-products could cause this pain and others just noticed that they had experienced the same when they switched from non-vegan diet to vegan diet.
At the end of week it suddenly hit me, that I hadn’t experienced any craving for candy or other sweets during the week. Even when it was in front of me, saying no wasn’t hard at all – I just didn’t want it. Thus my headaches might, most likely, have been the result of a pure sugar-detox. My brain was literally running low on the easiest accessible fuel, sugar.
I’ve come across a couple of good advice (many bad ones too) on how to avoid a craving for sweets or how to make yourself not eat candy, but this is by far the most effective solution I’ve experienced. Just eliminating sugar. Obviously it wasn’t my intention to cut out sugar, but by avoiding animal products I also avoided added sugar, milk sugar (lactose) and so on. And in the end my body had to find alternatives, that I think is healthier.
All in all it was a very interesting challenge. It has given me a lot of new ideas for the kitchen and something to think about, especially in whole ‘no-sugar-cravings’ matter.
I’m not planning on going fully vegan anytime soon, though. Truthfully it takes a huge amount of attention to keep up a good, healthy and interesting diet and I don’t want to always carry around a bag of nuts or so, just in case I can’t find a place to eat or might risk getting low blood sugar.
Look, it’s a happy cow!