I was VEGAN for two weeks and it FCKN SUCKED

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.

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First rule. Source

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.

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Yummy smoothies! Source

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.

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Stir Frys are delicious and really easy to make vegan. Source

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.

VERDICT

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.

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One Month of Being a VEGETARIAN

So if you remember, in December last year, I wrote down a bunch of goals and things that I wanted to achieve in 2016. And one of them was to try out being a vegetarian. My reasons behind it are environmental because of the amount of CO2 the red meat industry is responsible for. Plus the amount of resources such as water that are put in to producing just the grains to then feed the livestock. For me – it’s a bit of a deal breaker. With a number of my friends that are already vegetarians and me personally never really buying much meat… I thought I’d give it a try. And this is what my first month of being a vegetarian has been like.

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Some amazing bruschetta I made!

Adaptation

Like any new habit, it takes a while for it to sink in and become second nature. For me trying to train my brain to not eat meat, I was off to a bad start.

So, I spent NYE in Melbourne and had a pretty great time. I also had quite a lot of alcohol, so you could imagine my mornings started a bit rocky. On New Years Day (DAY 1 of being a vegetarian), I got up earlier than all of my friends and I decided I would go grocery shopping to buy ingredients to make an awesome breakfast. I bought avocado, tomatoes, eggs, haloumi, mushrooms, bread and bacon. But I bought the bacon for everyone else knowing that they would love it and I would be happy with the rest of what I had bought. Breakfast was a breeze… it was in the afternoon that got a bit tricky.

It was about 3pm and I was starting to crash. I was tired and absolutely hungry. My friend and I were walking the streets of Melbourne, hot and exhausted. When suddenly, we came across a Nando’s! Hallelujah! Finally, some delicious food that I need to get me through the rest of the day. So we went in and bought so much chicken, went back to our apartment and went into a food coma.

Later that afternoon we were out to dinner at a fancy restaurant and I was going through the menu and I said to my friends ‘ah that looks good but I can’t have it, it’s chicke-‘ and then I paused. OMG! I had just eaten a massive thing of Nando’s only a few hours earlier! So incredibly embarrassing and hilarious!

So technically my month of vegetarianism started on the 2nd of January. But it just goes to show how hard it is for your brain to be active in reminding yourself that ‘hey don’t eat that, that’s meat’ or to learn a new hobby. It’s hard and it took me a while! But a month in and I’ve pretty much accustomed myself to it now.

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Munching on fruit all the time. Can’t complain with that. Source
Eating Yummy Foods

Because I’ve now taken meat out of the equation, I’m always looking for something to substitute it for my meals. So I’ve been trying to get a bit creative with my cooking. Using lentils, cheeses, falafels, spreads like hummus, and sprinkling meals with chilli and lemon really give whatever it is that I make an extra kick.

Eating Lots of Yummy Seafood

OK so I’m not exactly vegetarian, but pescatarian (a vegetarian who eats fish and seafood). I made this decision because I love seafood and I need to have some sort of balance of protein and it’s a good way to get my Omega 3. Plus, I LOVE stir fries with prawns and I just wasn’t ready to give them up just yet. I try to eat fish at least once a week. Along with eating lots of yummy seafood and fresh fruit and veges, I feel a lot healthier within myself. I know it’s only been a month but I feel that I have a lot more energy than I usually have. We’ll see how this goes long term.

Saving Money

Going out to dinner is generally the only time I have issues with being a vegetarian. I look at the menu and see the specialty lamb burgers and think ‘damn.’ But – the vegetarian options are usually cheaper and jam packed with amazing flavours!

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Source. 
The Down Side

It was quite interesting to see how the people around me reacted to me becoming a vegetarian. There’s a pretty well known stereotype of vegetarians and vegans always telling anyone and everyone about how they’re vegetarians. I do not do this. And neither do my friends who are vegetarians. Just sometimes it comes up in conversation – like ordering food. The negative vibes wore off eventually but I was pretty surprised by the amount of slack I received from a lot of people around me. Well it’s stopped now so I must of convinced them how good it is 😉

So that’s been my month of being a vegetarian. It’s been interesting and I’ve learnt a lot. I started off committing to a month and I’m planning on continuing it for at least another. We’ll see how we go – and of course, I’ll keep you in the loop!

Are you a vegetarian or vegan? Do you have any suggestions on how to keep going and find tasty new recipes? Let me know in the comments below!