A Day in the Life — Going Vegan

By Emmie Martin

Vegans have always mystified me. How do they find things to eat without consuming animal products? There are plenty of vegans out there, so I knew it could be done. But in order to prove it to myself I decided I had to experience the discipline that comes with a vegan lifestyle, so I tried it out for three days.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A friend and I always eat between our 9:30 a.m. class and our 11:15 a.m. class – it’s our weekly ritual. We switch it up each week, sometimes People’s Place, other times Breuggers, but today we settled on Food.com in Newhouse.

She immediately went for the hot chocolate while I searched for something vegan-approved. Still slightly unsure of what exactly constituted vegan, I decided to go for a safe bet: chocolate soymilk. I have never tried soymilk before this, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I heard it has no flavor and tastes like water, so honestly, I was a little leery to try it.

But it was good. Really good. I’ll-drink-it-again-after-I’m-done-being-vegan-good. I took that as an omen. Maybe giving up meat and dairy for a few days wouldn’t be so difficult.

However, after my next class I met another friend for lunch. As I walked into Shaw Dining Hall, I began making a mental list of foods to avoid. No eggs. No milk. No cheese. Uh-oh. I quickly realized those are pretty substantial components of my diet. This was my first clue that the next few days were going to take discipline, self-control, and a lot more than drinking soymilk for breakfast.

For lunch, I first settled on another safe bet: organic cereal and soymilk. You can’t go wrong with cereal in my book. Next, I ventured over to the miniscule, yet existent, vegan section of the dining hall. There were a few cooked vegetables and some vegan stromboli. The stromboli looked alright, so I grabbed one.

Overall, my lunch was good. The cereal was delicious, and the stromboli turned out to be sufficient. But what killed me was my yearning for all the foods I couldn’t eat. I longed for my daily bagel and cream cheese. All I wanted was some skim milk. The omelets looked so appetizing. As I watched my friend eat ice cream for dessert, my sweet tooth ached for some frozen goodness.

Somehow, I made it through the rest of the day. But I still had ice cream on my mind, so when someone mentioned that Brockway Dining Hall served vegan desserts, I grabbed my roommate and told her “we’re going.”

This dining hall had a slightly larger vegan section, so in the interest of trying authentic vegan food, I ventured over. My roommate and I debated which foods appeared to be edible, and in the end I decided to try a veggie burger and some sort of corn-tofu-who-even-knows-what-else casserole.  I also helped myself to a large salad and what is that? Could it be? Vegan dessert! Two slices of vegan zucchini bread, please.

The veggie burger was burnt and hard. Not good. The casserole tasted like feet. I chose to stick to salad as the main part of my meal. The whole venturing into the vegan section wasn’t a lost cause though. As it turns out, vegan zucchini bread is delicious. Normally, I would have written it off before trying it, but I’m so glad I didn’t. If I ever find myself eating on the other side of campus again, I definitely want some more.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The bagels were just taunting me today. As content as I was with my cereal/soymilk combination, I craved a toasted bagel topped with cream cheese. As I ate my organic apple-Os, I pondered why they didn’t serve vegan cream cheese here. Eh, it’s probably not very tasty, anyway.

After breakfast, I went back to my room and was met by my snack drawer. Despite my two bowls of cereal, I was still hungry. Or maybe I just wanted chocolate. Either way, it took immense self-control to stay out of the candy. I have the biggest sweet tooth, so this was no easy feat.

Later that night, I decided to play it safe as I loaded my to-go tray for dinner – no venturing into the questionable tonight. Luckily, I am a big fan of salad and cereal.

Friday, October 22, 2010

By the third day, I’m getting a little jaded with going vegan. Cereal for breakfast, salad for dinner. Same old, same old by now. I would kill for that bagel and cream cheese at this point.

Dairy products, please don’t ever leave me again.

Bottom Line:

I have newfound respect for vegans. Take it from me, cutting all animal products out of your diet is not easy. But more than anything, I found it inconvenient. I know there are a lot of things vegans can eat, but eating in dining halls severely limits the options, making it much more difficult. And the options that are there are not prepared well, and are nearly inedible. A diet of salad and cereal is not a healthy way to live, and I admire vegans for finding substitutes for calcium, protein, and other hard to find in non-animal products foods.

From here on out I will be sticking to my diet of cheese and eggs, but to anyone with the willpower to go vegan: Go for it.

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