I eat everything, and by everything, I mean it. I come from a family where you had to eat everything they gave you, even if you didn’t like it. I’m fortunate enough that I don’t have food allergies so when it comes to food, as long as it looks, smells or tastes good I’ll eat it. That’s why being vegan has never crossed my mind before. I respect and admire those who choose a vegan lifestyle, but going vegan was something that I thought wouldn’t go well for me. However, since there are many vegan students at NSU and I believe that the best way to have an accurate perception of something is by trying it, I decided to try going vegan for a week.
Day 1: Feb. 19
I woke up late for class, so breakfast wasn’t an issue since I didn’t have the time to eat it. I grabbed a water and some almonds, and I started my day. My problems began at lunch. Though, luckily for me, my co-worker has been a vegan for almost three years now, so she knows the Do’s and Don’ts of the vegan lifestyle and decided to help me. We went to the food court to see what I could eat, and I found myself craving meat. I could only think of getting chicken or some type of meat, so I decided to leave and go to Outtakes instead. There’s where I learned how difficult it is to be vegan. You have to look at every single ingredient of everything you may want to eat to make sure you are not eating anything made from animal products. This took a while and all I ended up buying were four packs of Oreos — which apparently are vegan somehow — and vegan sushi. It’s safe to say that I starved that day.
Day 2: Feb. 20
My breakfast consisted of tea and some dry Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal. The day went on pretty smoothly, but I realized that I was hungry; much more than I was used to being. Those four packs of Oreos were gone by lunch and I had to buy more vegan snacks to keep myself from being hungry. This time, my friend wasn’t there to help me, so I had to figure out things by myself. It was hard, and sadly I failed. I ordered a tea from Starbucks and the tea had honey in it, but I didn’t realize honey wasn’t allowed since it’s made by bees; something that I learned later. However, I decided to stick to the vegan diet and keep going.
Day 3: Feb. 21
I started to hate this new diet. I was constantly hungry, having to be meticulous about what I ate and having to substitute my regular grande latte for a grande latte with almond milk substitute, which wasn’t good at all. Everywhere I went I found myself craving meat. My mood began to change as well. I felt more irritable and tired and I was upset from having to do this. But I persisted, as by this point I was almost halfway done. So far, my diet consisted of tea or water, cereal, sushi and Oreos. For dinner, I went to grab a veggie burger from Flight Deck which wasn’t as bad as I thought, but it was obvious that it wasn’t meat. I started to notice how limited the food options were on campus, not just for vegans, but for vegetarians as well.
Day 4: Feb. 22
Thursdays tend to be very busy days for me since I have a lot of back-to-back classes, lab as well as my job responsibilities. I ended up skipping breakfast and just started my day with water and some nuts. My energy was really low, as was my concentration, and I found myself falling asleep in class and in lab. People started asking me if I was okay since I seemed so tired and was hungry all the time. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to keep doing this, but I was able to finish Thursday.
Day 5: Feb. 23
This Friday, out of all days, was my busiest one. I had to go to class, then to a hospital I started volunteering at and then lastly back to work at The Current. This was my first day volunteering, so I was pretty nervous. While I managed to get through my classes, I knew I would have to eat or I feared I wouldn’t make a good first impression. So, I broke my diet with a burger from Flight Deck.
Being vegan was harder than I thought and is definitely not for me. However, I would encourage everyone that may want to try it to go for it. One thing I noticed is how limited the food options are for vegans and vegetarians. Even though I made some mistakes along the way, I had come so close to finishing a full seven-day week. Though this experience made me more aware of how people who are vegan live day-to-day and my experience highlighted the challenges they face, especially as a student living on campus at NSU. That’s an area that NSU should really step up and try to make life a little bit easier for students who choose this lifestyle.
Another thing that I noticed with this experience was the money I spent on food. Food for vegans is either cheap but unhealthy or expensive and healthy; there was almost no middle ground. My declining balance suffered a lot that week and I ended up spending a lot more than I’m used to.
I wish I could say that this experience was life-changing — it wasn’t — but it definitely made me appreciate the hard work vegans have to do to maintain their lifestyle. From the temptations to the price of food, there are challenges all over the place. The fact that people overcome those challenges is admirable, and they should be proud to be vegan. I know I would be. Nevertheless, not all diets fit everyone and that’s fine. Everyone has their own way of eating and that’s acceptable. Trying these new diets could help you find your perfect diet or make changes to your existing diet. Either way, trying something new is always a great way to learn about the world and yourself.