Surprisingly this challenge was not as difficult for me as it was when I went paleo last month. I made sure to stock my fridge with tons of veggies and do all the proper menu planning. Nevertheless, there were still a few bumps in the road:
Five Biggest Challenges of Going Vegan
- No meat or fish. (Duh.) My one slip up was not realizing that I couldn't cook with oyster sauce. I made a huge batch of vegetable stir fry and didn't realize that I should have omitted the oyster sauce until after I ate it for dinner. Oops :(
- No dairy. I was ready to give up cheese for a week, but found it difficult to not eat eggs or egg products for breakfast every morning. Thus, the avocado toast was consumed, and has become my new obsession.
- Keeping carbs platonic. When omitting meat and dairy from your diet, it's really easy to resort to bread, pasta, and rice for every meal. But no, grains should not be a crutch to fill the void of protein in your life. I think this simple fact is the key to maintaining a successful, balanced vegan diet.
- The fine print says it all. After my slip up with the oyster sauce, I was extremely diligent in reading the ingredient labels on all foods that I ate. Unfortunately, most of the time it resorted in finding a milk ingredient listed, but it made me glad that I had the sense to check beforehand.
- Have patience for the non-supporters. While at a dinner function for work last week, I explained to someone that I was observing a vegan diet. There was a planned menu and I inquired about a vegan option, to which that person laughed at me and said I should "take one for the team" and eat meat that night. It didn't help matters when the waiter seemed to think that vegan was synonymous with a paleo diet, and therefore the fish he served me was vegan simply because there was no sauce on it. This was probably every vegan's worst case scenario. I'm extremely surprised that people can be so insensitive with their comments and also just as ignorant with the facts. I really can't imagine having to deal with it on a daily basis, and I have sympathy for people who have to tolerate it regularly.
The Good and the Bad
Going vegan for the week gave me a chance to try new recipes and other foods I would have otherwise not eaten: raw chocolate cheesecake, kale salad, and raw brownies. Everything came out really good for the most part, and I'm glad I had the chance to expand my culinary horizons.
To be honest, by the end of the week I was ready for the diet to be over. I had one or two slip ups earlier in the week -- between the oyster sauce oversight and the insensitive comments/vegan-paleo mixup at my work event -- and I was feeling generally uninspired. Friday night rolled around and I realized I didn't really have anything planned for dinner. At that point I was feeling a bit down, and it was so tempting to call it quits early. I ended up sticking it out for one last night, but I think that overall I had a much more positive experience during my Paleo challenge in January. I remember feeling super healthy during that week, and I attribute that to not eating grains. While I was careful not to overdo the carbs this week, I think it still made a difference in how lethargic I felt.
Would I go vegan again? Yes, I think I would, but surprisingly I feel a bit biased towards the paleo diet. I never expected to ever think that, but then again isn't that what this whole experience is all about? ;)