A few weeks ago, I took on a challenge of being a vegan for two weeks for the Australian Youth Climate Coalition’s (AYCC) fundraiser For the Love Of. The objective is to give up something you love for two weeks and raise money to go towards educational schemes run by the AYCC. Generally, people gave up things like beer, chocolate or coffee (for those of you that gave up coffee – I applaud you). So obviously I wasn’t going to give up coffee, and I felt like giving up the others were a bit too easy.
Then I discovered that they had a 3degree challenge. Where you give up sweets, wheat and meat. It is these industries that largely contribute towards CO2 emissions and degradation of our environment.
The most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report said we could see a temperature rise of between 3 and 4 degrees by 2100.
I’ve been a vegetarian since the beginning of the year (you can read about my experiences here). So I’d already done the meat thing. How could I challenge myself even further? Become a VEGAN for two weeks. Easy! (Or so I thought). As much as I respect people who are vegan, it’s just definitely not something I could adopt as a lifestyle. So here’s my pros and cons of being a vegan and why my two weeks as a vegan fckn sucked.
CON: Shopping takes twice as long
Going grocery shopping takes forever because you’re constantly reading the ingredients list on every product! It’s not always obvious that an item is going to have milk products in it so you’ve got to get our your magnifying glass and actually read the label. I’m sure that after a while you become familiar with products you can and can’t eat and the whole experience is much easier.
PRO: You actually know what’s in your food.
Because you read the label on everything you’re buying, you actually know what you’re putting in your mouth. Something I rarely did before hand. Being a vegan meant that I reduced the amount of processed foods I would usually buy and opt for fresh food.
CON: It’s expensive
So I only did this for two weeks and couldn’t accurately compare the differences in prices, but I definitely blew the budget on my grocery shopping for those two weeks.
PRO: You discover new tasty and healthy foods
Because you can’t go to your usual breakfast of skim milk with Weet Bix, cheese melt for lunch or pizza for dinner, you are forced to think outside the box. Especially when it comes to replacing items. Three things that I’ve continued to buy is Almond milk, Coconut milk and the Oats and Chia. I’ve never been the biggest fan of milk so switching to almond milk has made me feel a lot lighter and my tummy a lot happier. The Oats and Chia is absolutely delicious! I have it for breakfast with a banana every morning and it keeps me going for ages. And coconut milk is perfect for curries! Where have you been all my life? This is something I never would’ve discovered if it wasn’t for being a vegan for two weeks.
CON: I literally felt depressed
For these two weeks, I literally felt depressed. Not seriously, but I really didn’t feel myself. It could have been a mixture of other things, but I also think that my diet heavily contributed towards feeling pretty down. One of my friends told me that it was a type of withdrawal experience. Whatever it was, it really sucked.
PRO: I felt healthy and ate yummy foods
Because I was so limited on what I could eat, it forced me to think outside the box and create new dishes. I found that I ate lots of fresh veggies, fruits, rice and beans. There’s nothing nicer than cooking a meal from a recipe you find online and it actually turns out to be amazing! Pinterest will have you covered for all of your vegan recipes!
CON: YOU CAN’T EAT CHEESE!!!
OK so this was the breaking point for me. I love cheese. It goes on everything and with everything. And I love all types of cheese. And telling me I can’t eat cheese for two weeks, well damn I don’t think I’ve ever been so hangry for something before.
I raised nearly $100 dollars for an amazing cause and I’d like to thank everyone who donated! Climate Change is happening and adopting a plant-based diet is definitely a way to reduce CO2 emissions. For those of you out there that are vegan – good on you! I tried it and it just wasn’t for me. I’m a vegetarian for the time being but with my travels to France coming closer and closer, it may be something I give up whilst I indulge on cultural traditions of eating the finest French food ever (and that involves meat).
But it’s not all doom and gloom! The following TED Talk is BRILLIANT! He talks about how we don’t necessarily have to sacrifice milk or meat, but we just have to reduce the amount we consume. I believe that our actions can make a difference and that we should be mindful that our actions and the food we eat can have negative effects on the environment around us. But I also believe that we have to be in it together and we all need to realise that we can’t keep consuming the amount of meat we are at the moment.