I’ve decided to try different eating lifestyles for one week periods of time. I was motivated to do this after reading multiple articles where people wrote about eating vegan and how much cleaner they felt in the first few days. Being an incredibly picky eater, I probably could not adopt any of these lifestyles long term, but I just wanted to give them a try. Here I have documented each day of my vegan week. And since I predict that it will be full of carbs, the next lifestyle I will try is gluten free!
Day 1: I arrived back in town late yesterday afternoon and was exhausted. Since I did not make it to the grocery yesterday, when I woke up this morning ready to start day 1 of my vegan diet I was struggling to find foods around my house that I could eat. I was reading the ingredients on everything! It turns out, even dry cereal has milk in the ingredients! I thought I had to ADD milk to make cereal non-vegan! I also noticed, the bread that I’m almost out of has milk in it, but the new, unopened bread I had does not. They are the exact same – 35 calorie whole wheat bread. The only difference is the brand and oddly one had milk and one did not. Vegan lesson 1: make no assumptions about what you can and can’t eat. I know since I don’t eat beans I need to find ways to get protein, so I toasted the bread and spread PB2 on it. For those of you who don’t know what PB2 is, it is powdered peanuts that you mix with water to make low-cal, natural peanut butter. As a calorie counter, I swear by it and go through jars of it! This turned out to be the most bland (blandest?), dry, unenjoyable breakfast. With a rough start to Vegan week, I decided I needed to be better prepared.
I found some vegan recipes online and made a grocery list. There were a few things I wasn’t sure where to find in a grocery store (some I didn’t even know what they were!), so I called my mom and she came over to join me on my vegan grocery adventure! Though I usually just run up the street to Kroger or Valu Market, I thought I might have better luck vegan shopping at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. Prior to starting this I became very disappointed to find that Morningstar Farms “meats” have egg white in them, and therefore are not vegan. At Trader Joe’s I found that there are other brands that ARE vegan, as well as vegan forms of Morningstar Farms. I also stocked up on lots of fruits and veggies. I was looking at the ingredients on everything in the store. I never realized how many things have milk or some version of milk in it! The worst was trying to find snacks for my chocolate cravings. While I found plenty of chocolate without milk in it, everything said “may contain traces of milk”. I bought two chocolate snacks from Whole Foods that were completely vegan, however they were incredibly expensive, so I bought two chocolate snacks that say “may contain traces of milk” just in case – I figure as long as milk isn’t an ingredient I’m doing pretty well. And I’m going to try not to eat them if at all possible! Vegan lesson 2: milk is everywhere! As I was shopping, I also realized how many ingredients are in this vegan stuff that I can’t pronounce or don’t know what it is. It’s all so processed, it made me question how healthy vegan eating actually is.
As I continued shopping I knew I needed soy milk and I love love love Silk’s light chocolate soy milk, but Trader Joe’s didn’t have Silk so I waited on soy milk. We then moved on to Whole Foods, where I got the rest of the things on my list, but they didn’t have Silk either! I looked at the nutrition on the soy milk they sell at Whole Foods and it had 130 calories per cup. Silk only has 90, so I decided to wait. My mom and I came back to my apartment and put away the groceries and decided we needed lunch. She offered that we could go out for lunch instead of me cooking something, but I was worried about being able to eat vegan at a restaurant. After some discussion, we decided to go to Ramsi’s. While you can’t tell from the online menu, their in-restaurant menu has symbols to mark gluten free, vegetarian and vegan entrees (or entrees that can be made to be GF, veggie or vegan). I planned to get my normal greek salad with no cheese, but I noticed it didn’t have the vegan mark by it. I thought if I got it without cheese it would make it vegan, but if it wasn’t marked that it could be made vegan there must be something in the dressing – egg maybe? cheese? I didn’t ask. That left me ordering capellini pomodoro (the vegan version). When my food came out, there was cheese on top. I wasn’t sure if it was vegan cheese or if they accidentally didn’t make it vegan. I felt especially bad sending it back since I actually eat cheese, but the waiter kindly offered to make sure it was vegan cheese and I didn’t want to have to start vegan week over. About 5 minutes later he brought out a cheese-free dish. Apparently it was not vegan cheese. It was perfectly fine without the cheese (though a little bit spicy), and while I probably cut calories by eating it without the cheese, I would have ordered the salad if I wasn’t eating vegan, which I’m guessing has far fewer calories.
Valu-Market is right across the street from Ramsi’s so after lunch we ran over there to get Silk. That is where I found the most amazing find of the day! I was so excited about it that I had some as soon as I got home!
During my recipe planning I was sent a recipe for vegan pizza dough, but I found pre-made pizza dough at Trader Joe’s that was garlic flavored AND vegan! It sounded so good that I decided to make pizza tonight for dinner. I rolled out the dough (of course getting flour all over my kitchen and my dog!) and covered it with sauce, veggies and vegan cheese. I put it in the oven for the 10 minutes the dough package called for. I took it out and the cheese wasn’t melted at all, so I left it in. I ended up leaving it in for about 10 extra minutes before fearing the crust would burn. I took it out and the cheese still wasn’t very melted, but I cut myself a piece anyway. After eating a few bites, I realized the crust was still incredibly gooey. It tasted good, but was clearly still not cooked so I ate the piece I cut, and put the rest back in the oven. After another 15 minutes, I finally took the pizza out. The cheese still didn’t look melted, but the crust was nice and golden. Vegan lesson 3: non-dairy cheese does not melt right.
Of course, my favorite part of this experience is the new baking skills and techniques I will learn. Oh She Glows has been a great resource for vegan recipes, so I thought I’d give one of her desserts a try. I liked the look of these cupcakes, but thought it might be smarter to make mini cupcakes so I don’t eat so much dessert in one sitting. The batter was the easiest cupcake batter I have ever made, but when I licked some spilled batter off my hand (don’t worry, I washed them!!) it was terrible; very bitter. I didn’t want to alter anything on my first try, so I put them in the oven and moved forward with making the icing. Also a very easy icing to make. The recipe calls for almond extract, which I don’t have, so I used coconut extract. I then made the raspberry glaze. I used more raspberries than it called for because it wasn’t getting as watery as it was supposed to. When I tasted the raspberry glaze, it was very strongly flavored and very sweet so I didn’t add anymore. When the timer for the cupcakes went off (I set it for about 7 minutes less than the recipe called for since I was making mini cupcakes and I didn’t want to risk overcooking them), they looked done. The recipe says they are done when they are lightly pushed and spring back, so I stuck my finger in one, and it went right through into the uncooked center of the cupcake. WHOOPS!
I put them back in for the remaining time, and as you can see in the photo, one cupcake has a lovely fingerprint in it. In the end, the bitterness of the cake and the sweetness of the icing and glaze balanced each other nicely and they tasted pretty good. Though day 1 got off to a rough start, once I got some planning and shopping done, it turned out to be a pretty good first day!
Day 2: I woke up this morning and it was so nice to have good food and know exactly what to eat!! I started my day with a banana and of course some of that Silk iced latte. I was then going to head to the gym for spinning, but I called to reserve a bike and the class was full! I’ve never seen a full class. And of course, I was so annoyed by this that I decided not to go to the gym at all…that’s the stubborness in me
Lunch was leftover pizza – just as delicious the next day as it was the night before, and a soy ice cream sandwich for dessert. Yum! The afternoon got a little tougher because I wanted a snack, but nothing I had sounded good. I know I should have had fruits or veggies, but I really just wanted mac and cheese!! I poured myself a glass of Silk and am hoping it will hold me over till I make this fabulous recipe for dinner. Thank you, Pinterest!
The Silk didn’t hold me over, but I distracted myself by watching Vegucated on Netflix. I thought, what better time than while I’m eating vegan, but I still closed my eyes through a lot of it. It was heartbreaking to watch and made me wonder if I could keep up this vegan thing. Everyone says “I love cheese too much to be vegan” and going in to this I thought that would be my biggest problem, but I think the hardest thing for me to give up will be chocolate. Just regular, everyday chocolate. No more Kitkats, or Reeses, or Hershey bars for s’mores. Can I even have marshmallows?? I’m not sure! Luckily I’m a good baker and I have Cake Flour (who has vegan options) just down the street so I can hopefully get my sweet fix! After Vegucated, I started making dinner. Everything was going fine (I only used 1/4 of the jalepeno because I don’t like spicy!), and then I got out an avocado and realized none of my avocados are ripe!! I fought with it for awhile and finally got one cut, but it does not taste very good. I went back for seconds, but this time I had the quinoa with no avocado and it is SOOOO good. I was planning to have leftovers, but I’m not sure I will. And I can imagine this would taste AMAZING on a ripe avocado, so clearly I’m going to have to make it again soon!
I am LOVING these dark chocolate covered cacao nibs. I have been eating them like crazy, but they are so expensive!
I really need to find cheaper vegan chocolate. The cupcakes, while satisfying my sweetness craving, don’t satisfy my chocolate craving (the raspberry flavor is powerful). I found this recipe on Pinterest, so I’m hoping it will be a good chocolate fix. I don’t have Vega (I don’t really care for supplements, but I’m wondering if it’s a good idea with a vegan diet…) so I Googled how much a scoop is and the best I could figure is 2 tablespoons, so I put in a quarter cup of cocoa powder instead. After spreading the batter onto the pan, I licked the spoon and it was not very good, and the chia seeds were super noticeable. I hope once it bakes it will taste much better!
After baking them, they did not turn out well. They tasted like a baked banana with seeds in it. Terrible!
Guess I’m still on the hunt for my chocolate fix. In the mean time, I’ll have another cupcake…or two (they’re mini!)
Day 3: I started today out with my Silk iced latte and a banana again (have I mentioned I‘m not a very adventurous eater?!). I brought leftover pizza from the first night for lunch, had an apple as an afternoon snack and then went to the gym after work. I had to stop at Walgreens on my way home and while I was there I picked up a pack of Oreos (I recently learned they’re vegan, but side note: sugar free oreos are not). I ate two on the short drive home.
While I was driving home eating the Oreos I started thinking about how I seem to be eating worse since I started this vegan week. I need to make a better effort to eat more vegetables and less Oreos! When I got home I had some Silk chocolate milk because I hear that chocolate milk is the best thing to have post-workout. I also got an email from a friend with the following information:
|Nonvegan Food||Vegan Substitute||Calories Saved|
|1 cup skim milk: 90||1 cup Silk Almondmilk: 60||30|
|1 tablespoon cream cheese: 51||1 tablespoon Tofutti cream cheese: 42||9|
|1/2 cup sour cream: 246||1/2 cup plain soy yogurt: 95||181|
|1/2 cup vanilla ice cream: 270||1/2 cup vanilla Soy Dream ice cream: 140||130|
|2 tablespoons mayonnaise: 180||2 tablespoons hummus: 70||110|
|2 large eggs: 140||4 ounces superfirm tofu: 115||25|
|3-ounce hamburger patty: 213||Boca Original Vegan veggie burger: 70||143|
|1 beef hot dog: 150||1 Tofu Pup: 60||90|
|3 ounces chicken: 140||3 ounces seitan: 90||50|
|3 strips bacon: 138||3 strips Smoky Tempeh Strips: 100||38|
So even though I feel like I’m eating worse, I may actually be eating the same, or even better in terms of calories (maybe still not healthy though!!) For dinner I ate the rest of the quinoa from last night. It was so good and I want more!! I’ll probably have a couple Oreos for dessert and then if I get hungry later, I’ll eat some strawberries. All in all a good food day!
Day 4: I had the Silk latte and a banana for breakfast again, and I brought a peanut butter and jelly and cucumber slices for lunch, but when I got to work I realized I still had a slice of the pizza leftover too, so I ended up eating the cucumber, pizza and a couple Oreos for lunch. For my afternoon snack I had an apple and on Tuesday nights I have dinner with my parents. I brought my leftovers from Ramsi’s and the peanut butter and jelly sandwich that I didn’t eat at lunch so that my mom wouldn’t have to cook anything special for me. When I got to their house she had already made dinner – quinoa stir fry with veggies! She remembered that it was vegan week and made sure to make something I could eat! I’m so spoiled It was DELISH! And she even packed up the leftovers for me. All in all it was a good food day.
Day 5: This morning I somehow managed to get up at 5 am and make it to the gym for my 6 am spin class! I took a cup of Silk iced latte on the road with me – I’ve read it’s good to have caffeine before a workout and I figured it certainly couldn’t hurt. I spun and lifted some weights and got ready for work. It was still pretty early, so I decide to go home to let the dogs out before work, and while I was there I had a glass of chocolate Silk (I’ve also read it’s good to have chocolate milk after a workout) and I had a banana when I got to work. For lunch I had the PB&J that I never ate yesterday, cucumber slices and a couple Oreos. I got hungry again in the afternoon, like usual, and I really didn’t want my apple, so I ended up eating the leftover quinoa stir fry from last night. When I got home I was going to make spaghetti squash with vegan meatballs, tomato sauce, and some shredded vegan mozzerella cheese. I wanted to keep it low cal, but be creative with all the vegan stuff I’d bought. I got home and was so tired that I decided to make my vegan chicken fingers. When I opened the freezer I saw that I also had sweet potato tots! I completely forgot that I bought them, and they go perfectly with chicken fingers. The chicken fingers were SO GOOD. The coating is made with quinoa and oats. It was an awesome texture and a delicious flavor. I think those will be replacing the Morningstar nuggets in my freezer permanently! I’m definitely making progress on getting into good Vegan eating habits, but I’m certainly not there yet.
I hope I can keep this up for a few weeks. I have not yet had that “clean” feeling that everyone says you get from eating vegan, but I think part of it is from the fact that I’m not eating the healthiest foods. If I can maintain the vegan lifestyle for a few weeks, I hopefully will establish a better eating habit and will get to that point.
Day 6: I can’t believe it has already been 6 days!! It has flown by! This morning I had some trouble with breakfast because I didn’t have any bananas left. I had my Silk Iced Latte again (of course), and then packed the rest of the raspberries (leftover from the cupcakes) for breakfast. I also realized I was out of chocolate except for some dairy-free chocolate that says “may contain traces of milk”. I packed a lunch of pb & j and cucumber slices, and I packed some pretzels in case I needed a snack. I went ahead and packed the chocolates that may contain milk just in case and headed to work. I stopped in Walgreens on my way to work and looked at every single dark chocolate in the store – from Hersheys to Godiva to Lindt to Walgreens brand. Every single one had milkfat in it. I had no idea what milkfat was so I called my mom to ask if it was dairy (it may sound like a stupid question, but cocoa butter is NOT dairy!). It is.
When I got to work, I started eating the raspberries before realizing that there was mold on some of them. Hopefully I didn’t eat any mold! Since I didn’t have much of a breakfast, I snacked on a few pretzels. I also messaged some vegan friends to see if I could eat the “may contain milk” chocolate. At lunchtime, I ate the pb & j and cucumbers and then came home to let my dogs out. I still had no responses about the chocolate I brought so another friend Googled the brand and found a blog post saying it was vegan. Then I Googled whether food that may contain milk is vegan. I found this blog post, and I liked her reasoning and explanation so I ate a few dark chocolate covered pomegranate seeds and a few dark chocolate pretzel balls. I later had some pretzels as my afternoon snack.
On my way home from work I had to run some errands, including stopping at Kroger to pick up a prescription. While I was there I decided to peruse the organic section (which is also the gluten free/vegan section). I found some cool looking vegan chocolate and ended up going a little overboard in the dairy free ice cream section.
I probably went overboard because I was hungry! I also noticed that my Kroger has the dairy free sour cream, cream cheese, Daiya cheese and Silk yogurt! All the things I went to whole foods for! I bought one container of Silk yogurt – I don’t usually care for yogurt much, but I figured I should give the non-dairy yogurt a try. I came home and made this cauliflower mash recipe since I was planning on making it all day. It had a great flavor, but a weird texture. I haven’t yet figured out what to do with it, but I definitely can’t just eat spoonfuls of it. I went ahead and made macaroni noodles since they’re quick. I ate a few noodles plain, and then I decided to put a little bit of Earth Balance and some cheddar Daiya on them, microwave it and I had some vegan mac and cheese. It was a little slimier than I’m used to, but it was DELICIOUS! I followed it up with some of these babies.
These are SO GOOD. I can’t even deal with how good they are! It has taken everything in my power to not taste my other ice creams and chocolates! I have enough stuff to go vegan for quite a bit longer, and I certainly plan to do so. I don’t think I will be able to stay vegan 100% because I spent part of today thinking about all the things I would never have again. Before I started this, I thought cheese would be the hardest. What, instead, I’m realizing that I don’t know that I could (nor would I want) to give up permanently:
But I will do this vegan thing for a little while, and I will make an effort to be more aware of what I’m eating – and eat as vegan as I can. Knowing how much I can find at Kroger, let alone Whole Foods and Trader Joes, it’s become a much easier adventure! The real test will be the next time I go to a restaurant – probably Saturday night!
Day 7: The last day – I can’t believe it! This morning I went to 6 am spin again, so I had my Silk iced latte before class, and I brought a cup of Silk chocolate and left it in my car (it was about 20 degrees outside so I figured it would stay cold!) After class I drank that and had a banana. At work I got hungry pretty early so I had a small handful of dark chocolate pretzel balls to hold me over. I then was caught in meetings all day and was not able to eat lunch until 3 pm! At that point I grabbed my PB&J and then had a couple squares of the creamy sweet chocolate bar. It was SO GOOD. After work I packed up a bunch of vegan foods to head to Bowling Green. In the car I ate a few more dark chocolate pretzel balls – it was the only food I could reach from the driver’s seat! When I got here Mike suggested we go out for Mexican – it’s my favorite!! Luckily I wasn’t that hungry, so I figured I would just eat some chips and guac and mexican rice. I saw on the menu a guacamole salad and I asked the waiter what that was. He said it was lettuce, pico, guac and sour cream. I ordered that with no sour cream and the mexican rice. While we were waiting for the food, I started thinking that there is probably cheese on it. It came out, and lo and behold, there was cheese on it. I tried scraping it off, but because it was shredded it was all mixed in with the lettuce. I also found a little bit of sour cream in there. I’m guessing they put it on and then realized I ordered it with no sour cream so they scraped it off, but there was still some there. Luckily everything was on the plate in sections, so I was able to just separate the cheese and sour cream section from the rest and I ate the guac, lettuce and tomatoes. It was SO good. Maybe I won’t miss tacos as much as I thought!
Even though this is the end of my vegan experiment, I have really enjoyed it and I have plenty of vegan food left, so I am definitely going to keep it up for awhile! At least, to the extent possible – I’m sure I’ll slip up here and there, but I feel like I’m doing something good for the world – saving some animals and helping the environment!