Modern veganism has never looked more attractive - simply take a look at the thousands of gorgeous dishes being Instagrammed on a daily basis. And with celebs expounding the virtues (JLo has never looked better), I started to wonder whether the health benefits could outweigh the prospect of never eating Dairylea again.
So, I decided to join the 150,000 vegans in the UK (if only for a week).
But going vegan isn't something to be sniffed at. Cutting out all animal products from your diet - that means meat, fish and dairy - is hard. Really hard.
You see the thing about being vegan is that it's not just a way of eating. It's a whole lifestyle change and as such, is a very big commitment.
For the uninitiated, Honestly Healthy offer a helping hand to get you on the road to veganism.
Their vegan meal plan is delivered straight to your door. So the faff of shopping and scanning product labels for vegan-unfriendly ingredients is kindly taken off your hands.
When the first of two Honestly Healthy arrived at my door I'll admit the food - lentil patties, quinoa salad, afternoon smoothies - looked tasty, but the parcels contained considerably less food than my usual daily diet.
Although all of my meals were taken care of (*wipes brow*), when I did need to find vegan-friendly snacks, I struggled to satiate my cravings.
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My usual go-to snacks were out of the question:
Yoghurt? No - dairy.
Peanut butter on rice crackers? No - palm oil (with the exception of Sunpat peanut butter, I later found out).
Eggs? Well, no.
The lowest point of the week was the realisation that dark chocolate is another vegan enemy. Little did I know that lecithins, which can be derived from egg yolk, is one of the binding ingredients. Unless I wanted to spend £5 on a vegan alternative, I had to scrap the dream of dark chocolate. So I ended up filling up on high energy Naked bars when the sugar cravings became too much.
When the weekend rolled around, the struggle to stay true to the vegan lifestyle just got harder. My friends and I decided on a last minute getaway. Wine and cheese was on the menu and as many wines are made from fish bladder I had to quickly search for an alternative.
But with little time and money - vegan options are expensive - I was unable to find an alternative. And, low and behold, come Friday night I caved. (But boy did that wine taste good.)
The experience made me really aware of just how much discipline and preparation is required of vegans. What do you do if you want to get away for the weekend at the last minute and don't have time to prepare meals and snacks? When you leave the inner-city, the rest of the world isn't so accommodating to vegans.
And really, that's just the beginning of what's difficult about this diet. Here are some others:
1. The eternal state of being unsatisfied
Mostly because you can't fill up on protein or satiate your cravings. I personally like to eat protein with every meal. This usually involves eggs, or meat at dinner time. With these out, I had to up the carbs and green-leafy vegetables, but they just don't do the job like a good chicken breast does!
2. It's expensive
Sure you could get by on spending very little on an eternal menu of vegetables and canned beans, but you're not really going to do that are you? Vegan alternatives to your usual treats are where you can really end up spending the cash. Vegan wine, vegan chocolate, vegan pizza and oh the list goes on and on.
If you had to cook all your meals, which unless you're Beyonce and Jay-Z or have a spare £220 each week for Honestly Healthy, you do. There's a lot of preparation involved in what you cook. You can't just pop into Prets or Tesco for a quick lunch. You have to really be mindful about what you eat. Thought and preparation goes into every meal.
4. Impact on social life
Spontaneous getaways are hard. Venturing out of the inner-city is hard. I imagine backpacking as a vegan must be near impossible, or at least eternally frustrating. But what about just going out for dinner with friends? Let's face it, there aren't too many vegan friendly restaurants out there that your mates would also want to go to. So you end up with the salad menu or a deconstructed version of a menu item which possibly leaves your friends cringing and the waitress annoyed.
5. It's a lifestyle commitment
If you go vegan in what you eat, you really should be looking at all your products. Because vegan's are all encompassing. You have to look to what you wear (no leather) and also what beauty products you're using (so many are still tested on animals or contain lanolin).
I know one week as a vegan, *coughs* failed vegan, isn't a comprehensive insight into the lifestyle, but it certainly helps you appreciate how hard the diet is to follow.
There are so many unassuming ingredients in our daily diets that harm animals in some way.
So if you have a friend who has committed to the vegan lifestyle, they must really, truly care. And that deserves a round of applause.
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