I Tried Becoming Vegan And This Is What Happened

If you’ve ever been on the internet, you will probably know that most people there (here?), regardless of their personal feelings or political party ties, have managed to form a unified front against one foe they view as being the ultimate danger towards society. It’s not Donald Trump. It’s not millennials. It’s not minions, either. It is, instead, the vegan community. You know, those quiet, gentle, Birkenstock-clad people who are known to cause a benevolent ruckus or two at the odd Bernie Sanders rally and refuse to eat anything that comes from animals?

Of course, there are some reasons why this hatred easy enough to understand. Vegans are easy targets, first of all, due to a general proclivity towards pacifism and (stereotypical!) weakness due to (stereotypically!) low iron and vitamin B12 levels. There’s also that whole Vegan YouTube Drama situation, which I will not go into right now, but basically involves a lot of internal fighting an name-calling, all of which seems to have been done in honor of the Great Almighty Plant-Based Protein, and a sense that many vegans see themselves as significantly better than everyone around them.

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I will say, however, that, beyond the obvious YouTube drama/ holier-than-thou attitude favored by much of the vegan community, I find much of the overall vitriol lobbed at vegans to be unfair. They just want to save animals! Doing so reduces one’s individual carbon footprint dramatically! Beyonce and Jay Z are vegans, kinda! Besides, a popular meme that is often used as a dig against vegans–you know, the vegan/crossfit one, where someone is like, “I’m a vegan and I do crossfit, which one should I talk about first?”— is factually inaccurate in many ways! Everyone knows that Crossfit enthusiasts eat a paleo diet–the “caveman” eating plan that consists almost entirely of meat–not a vegan one! It would be much more fitting, and damaging to vegans’ psyches, to substitute, I don’t know, Bikram yoga for Crossfit. I know that there are a lot of vegans there.

Anyway. In a move that was only a little bit inspired by my long-brewing rebuttal of an old meme, I decided to become a vegan. For a week. This is not a very long time, it is true, but it was just about all I could commit to from the get-go–I’m a pescetarian already, so I don’t eat red meat or poultry, but giving up all animal products, like, permanently, did not seem feasible–I love sushi, I try to eat at least one egg a day, my reliance on an afternoon block of cheese every day is something that borders on addiction, and I often convince myself that I “need probiotics,” and the only way I can possibly get them is by getting frozen yogurt on my way home from work. Every night. You get the idea.

But, even considering this, being a vegan for exactly one week? Not particularly difficult. Veganism–like, just the act of eschewing animal-based products–is not particularly subversive anymore, considering that quinoa and tofu are decidedly mainstream at this point. Plus, I already live in a rather vegan-friendly neighborhood in Brooklyn (one time, a man standing outside the artisan cheese and coffee shop near my apartment stopped me to tell me that he was “really tired from staying up all night making seitan,” to which I genuinely had no response), and, in a rather fortuitous turn of events, I had accidentally made about 100,000 servings of a nourishing quinoa stew a few days before  my vegan experiment.

I had made a Craigslist ad for it, as you can see above, but nobody responded except for a boy named Marcus, who asked if I had any drugs to accompany the stew (no, but thank you for asking!), and another woman, Elena, who said, simply: Did you really post an ad for this you’ve got to be crazy jesus in heaven I live on myrtle and wykoff got any left? (Now, I am no psychologist, but is that a mixed message or is that a mixed message?!) Anyway, this quinoa stew happened to be both nourishing and vegan, so I ate that most of the time.

But you don’t want to hear about that.

Here are some highlights from my week as a vegan:

Bagel Friday
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Every Friday is a special day for me, not only because it heralds the end of my long, arduous week writing content on the internet, but also because it is the day that we at the Gurl.com offices are given bagels. Hence its moniker, “Bagel Friday.” These bagels, while themselves a vegan-friendly food (it’s true, I read it on the PETA website), come only with cream cheese and butter, which is not vegan friendly. So, I brought my own Earth Balance Buttery Spread, purchased for $5.99 at my local bodega. Is this “extra?” You bet. Did this allow me to participate in Bagel Friday with my usual verve and enthusiasm? Yes again, so, it was worth it.

I will say, however, that when I was putting my Earth Balance Buttery Spread back into the refrigerator, a ring that my grandma gave me fell off my hand and into a little crevice at the back of the fridge, so I had to come back later when nobody was in the kitchen and yank out the refrigerator drawer to get it back, which I guess is the downside to bringing your own non-dairy alternative for Bagel Friday. This also is not a very interesting story, I don’t think, but I just typed all of it and now you have to read it. Actually, you don’t have to, so thanks for doing it, whatever you did.

 

Vinnie’s Pizza
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I had heard much of Vinnie’s Pizza, a vegan-friendly pizza joint that uses soy cheese and “meat” toppings, prior to becoming vegan, so I knew I had to give it a try in earnest once I, too, was a vegan. So, I got a slice of spicy chicken jalepeno pizza one night when my nourishing quinoa stew had run out.

It was “okay.” It did not taste like mozzarella, nor did it taste at all like chicken, but it was bread topped tomato sauce, topped with a fatty, lardy white substance (DON’T CALL ME GROSS THAT IS ALL CHEESE IS AND YOU KNOW IT). I ate all of it.

 

One Vegan Cookie Purchased Out Of Desperation
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Towards the end of the week, the train I take to work kept experiencing delays, stalling, and sputtering out, until they finally pushed us out at a station (not the one I was trying to get to!) and basically told us, “good luck.” This was a horrible experience, obviously, but I made a moderately successful tweet about the ordeal, which got featured in an online publication, which helped me gain a whole new set of two Twitter followers. Stop asking me about it! Anyway, I escaped to a coffee shop with my laptop to do my work, where I purchased an iced coffee and, because it was there, a vegan chocolate chip peanut butter pretzel cookie.  It tasted great. That was probably the sugar, which tastes good in any form.

Obviously, being a vegan for a week is not the same thing as fully adopting a vegan ~lifestyle~. Because of this, I cannot really tell people to drop their animal products and become militant vegan activist (lol), but I will say that my own personal experience was a positive one. Nothing changed in me, per se–my skin is no glowier, my hair no shinier, and I am probably no more or less healthy, from a medical perspective, than I was when I started–but I did feel like I made “healthier” choices throughout the week.

There is an added bonus, of course, of feeling as though you are superior to everyone else in the world who might deign to eat animal products.

In fact, this feeling of power is far too heady for me, so I think I will go back to my occasional partaking of animal products, though probably  more mindfully than before. But, in the long run, week-long veganism? I recommend it! Just don’t let it get to your head.

Would you try being a vegan? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments!

You can reach the author, Sara Hendricks, on Twitter and Instagram.

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