Somehow, one of the Lifestyle and Culture Editors miraculously persuaded Issie Sutherland to go vegan for a week, who in turn somehow got her housemates on board. Here is how she fared on the strictly no animal produce diet.
2006, it is undeniable that veganism is one of the fastest growing lifestyle movements over the past decade. The plant-based diet not only boasts serious health benefits, but major ethical and environmental benefits too. As documentaries such as Cowspiracy (2014) direct the vegan discussion onto an increasingly accessible platform and put forth a very convincing argument as to why “we should all be vegans”, I have roped my flatmates, Katie and Abbie, into becoming vegan for a week. Doing all the hard work for you, we have challenged ourselves to see just how easy it is to go vegan at university on a student budget.
DAY 1: Reluctantly coming to terms with the prospect of a vegan diet, our first day as vegans was a little disappointing; particular low points included tea without milk, beans on toast without cheese and having to clingfilm Katie’s birthday cake in the hope it will last until the end of the week. Having not yet completed our “big vegan food shop”, dinner options were fairly limited, with Abbie opting for a delightful bowl of Weetabix (with almond milk, obviously) and Katie and I rustling up a meagre portion of stir-fried vegetables (on the up side, very healthy we told ourselves).
DAY 2: Having decided to get our act together we ventured to Morrison’s to discover what little Vegan gems they had to offer. Ground-breaking discoveries were vegan pesto (an absolute godsend), Oreo’s (which are actually vegan, who knew?) and Marmite (again, who knew?). Cost wise, the “free from” products did work out more expensive, vegan pesto came in at £2.50 whilst Morrison’s own comes in at a pound and a litre of almond milk costing £1.38 as opposed to a litre of cow’s milk costing just 45p, something to consider if you were going to go vegan full time. However, our ingredients for vegan chilli worked out much cheaper, substituting costly mincemeat with sweet potatoes and chickpeas. With the absence of cheese, we were a little sceptical, but much to our delight it turned out to be pretty tasty. We swapped cheese and sour cream for Katie’s home-made guacamole, which was incredible and to be honest a much healthier and tastier alternative.
DAY 3: Three days in and veganism began to take its toll. Our consumption of hummus skyrocketed and Abbie lost her way, getting a latte with milk. Katie and I were still going strong however, aided by Katie discovering some banging vegan banana bread to settle our sweet, non-vegan cravings. This came in good time as the copious amounts of birthday cake in our flat (three) had become a source of temptation beyond no ends.
DAY 4: With two days to go the “glow” of the vegan diet hadn’t yet hit us and staving off temptations to demolish an entire pack of chocolate digestives was getting harder and harder. Despite the lack of physical benefits (honestly it had been four days, what were we expecting?) our diets had noticeably improved. With easy, processed food largely out of the question we found ourselves cooking from scratch and incorporating loads more veg into our meals. Preparation seemed to be key and being forced to think about everything we were eating meant instead of picking up a £3 meal deal from Tesco we were bringing our own lunch, saving money and ultimately eating more nutritiously – a win-win situation. Dare I say it we even began to find our inner culinary skills and enjoy cooking. A firm favourite was a vegetable and coconut milk curry we made that night and with nothing but veg, coconut milk, spices and rice that was both delicious and affordable.
DAY 5: Our final day as vegans and we were ready for a reintroduction to dairy, but being the troopers we are, we decided to see the project to an end. On reflection, cutting out animal products wasn’t as earth shattering as we anticipated, although we definitely felt the restrictions in what we could eat and exhausted the culinary variations of the chickpea. We also noticed just how much healthier we were eating, which ultimately felt better in addition to the unquestionable environmental benefits of a vegan diet in the current climate of mass meat/dairy production. I asked Abbie and Katie for any final reflections on the past week, their responses pretty much sum up the venture to a T.
Abbie: “It made me eat healthier but I miss cheese.”
Katie: “I didn’t snack as much, but I really want chocolate.”
Image: Inhale, Exhale, Run