There is a lot of debate about whether having an entirely plant-based diet is actually better for the environment, and a more sustainable way to live. So I tried veganism for a week – and it wasn’t as bad as I thought.
As a vegetarian, it would be understandable to think that transitioning to veganism would be easy enough. However, I am also a lover of cheese, chocolate, cake and very milky tea, which made the prospect of a vegan week intimidating, if not also somewhat exciting.
Always a woman of preparation, my vegan journey started the day before with an afternoon spent making a meal plan before going shopping. Finding vegan recipes was in itself a struggle; so many seemed overly long and complicated, or full of ingredients it seemed unlikely my local Sainsburys would have. Hours later, I was finished and my vegan haul was successful; I even managed to find vegan cheese and chocolate!
In a cruel coincidence only proving that God laughs at all our plans, the first day of veganism coincided with the first day of my period. A day that, for me, is defined by an insatiable need for comfort food. After a morning of complaints, a little bit of crying, and bingeing on chocolate and cheese on toast – both of which were vegan and better than expected – I started to feel much better, and my previous can-do attitude started to return, if somewhat faded.
The rest of my week proved to be much less difficult than that first morning. My dinners, consisting of vegan burgers, bolognaise, chilli and curries, were so good that I plan to incorporate them into my normal diet. I managed to find a few ready-made vegan meals towards the end of the week but for the most part, the cooking took time and work. It was enjoyable, but had I been more rushed, and the week busier, I would have got tired very quickly.
Throughout the week I also cooked a few meals for the rest of my family which went down rather well. There was one particularly infuriating incident, however, when I had spent at least an hour in the kitchen making bean burgers for myself and my dad, who had specifically wanted to try a vegan burger. I was very impressed with my efforts, but after one bite he remarked, ‘it’s alright, but not quite a beef burger, is it?’ Looking back, I’m amazed that at that moment, my chocolate-deprived self didn’t go crazy.
My aforementioned susceptibility to cake transpired to be one of my biggest struggles. On the first day, my mother came home with a Victoria sandwich and because she is an angel, vegan flapjacks for me. Whilst this is obviously very sweet, it did not stop the pain of having to watch other people eat my favourite cake, or the leftovers grow old on the counter whilst I, desperate to rescue it from the horrible fate of ending up in the garbage, was unable to do so.
My experience of veganism was, as a whole, much better than I had expected. I spent a lot of the week complaining and the meals may not have been easy, but the restriction turned out to be exciting rather than limiting. The main thing preventing me from pursuing the lifestyle further is it’s impracticality. The inability to simply buy a chocolate bar, or eat a cake in a cafe, or even get a packet of crisps without checking the label, was what I found most difficult. Trying veganism was an interesting challenge but to do it permanently would be almost impossible for me.