I went vegan for a week and this is what I learned

May 27, 2016
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I have never been an adventurous eater. I have the culinary palate of an eight year old, sausage sandwiches are my favourite food and I have been known to eat the meat from takeaway curries and throw away the vegetables.

After one too many jokes at a vegan friend’s expense, I was challenged with going vegan for a full week. I had no idea what I was in for until I found myself ordering something called a ‘veggie bowl’ as my first vegan breakfast, which naturally brought a tear to my eye and a little bit of the previous night’s dinner to my throat.

I thought going vegan for a week would either help me overcome my childish aversion to vegetables or I would decay into madness from an overconsumption of kale.

It became obvious pretty quickly that this wouldn’t be a week of me crying in KFC car parks or sadly guzzling soups. It would instead be a pretty easy practice of ethical meal control, coupled with some of the meanest lentil farts known to mankind.

It’s as healthy as you make it

Every vegan I know and every vegan website preaches the health benefits of making the change – clearer skin, fat loss, extra energy, general wellbeing and many more reasons.

What no one tells you is there’s a mountain of unhealthy rubbish that is vegan and will do none of those things. I was more than excited to get Scott Pilgrim vs. the World style vegan superpowers, but the change in diet didn’t change my life immediately. If you’re not already a healthy eater, going vegan doesn’t necessarily change that.

Vegan food isn’t always natural and healthier, it just doesn’t contain animal products. So while I was expecting a utopian salad bonanza that would trim my waistline, the reality was more along the lines of peanut butter sandwiches and dry cereal. Even though I ate more sweet potato than I thought was humanly possible, the bottom line is my food decisions were definitely ethical but not intrinsically healthier.

I was more than excited to get Scott Pilgrim vs. the World style vegan superpowers, but the change in diet didn’t change my life immediately.

Why bother then?

I had never considered the ethics behind my meals. I assumed I would be too miserable throughout the week to notice I was saving the world. But the sad truth is, going vegan was so easy I was forced to reconsider all of the ethics behind my food decisions.A vegan diet is known to stop water wastage in livestock, halt land degradation and increase biodiversity. A minor change in lifestyle for many people could potentially result in a huge environmental benefit. 

Though one of the detriments of going vegan is the change in diet to more plant-based and more fibre leads to an increase in methane production from my rear. If there are 7.5 million vegans in the US alone producing this level of gas, how could there not be a correlation between veganism and the exacerbation of climate change? It seems we can’t win either way.

It’s been great

As much as the week made me feel like an enlightened food guru, I have to admit that the best moment was my first non-vegan meal afterwards. Unfortunately the bacon tasted a bit more like guilt and the eggs had a faint scent of mistreated chickens.

When my vegan friend set me this challenge I expected it, in the most blatant of terms, to really suck. And it did suck. Just not for the reason I thought. It sucked because even though I’m too lazy to go vegan permanently, I have to live with the knowledge that it would be very easy for me to make a quick change to help contribute to a good cause.

To all the vegans of the world I salute you. Thank you for being selfless and I apologise for all the times I questioned your protein sources and called you names. I do have to say though, I’m just glad I’m farting less and being tagged in fewer vegan memes.

Darcy Munce

Darcy is a Journalism student at UNSW who can be found either watching American sport or '90s sitcoms. He dreams of one day anchoring at ESPN with enough downtime to re-watch Scrubs for the thousandth time.

Image: CasparGirl, Flickr Creative Commons license