The Vegan Week
16 May 2015
I'm on my last Vegan Day as I am writing this, snacking from a bag of vegan wasabi peas, and reflecting on my veganism. I have done vegetarian days in the past - I try to do them regularly actually. But I don't think I ever had a single vegan day prior to taking on this challenge. My Day starts with a cappuccino - I love Cheese to death, and most of my meals consist of grilled meat or fish with vegetables on the side. Its what I eat - its my diet, its my lifestyle - I love to eat red meat almost rare, I love Tartars, Carpaccios, Sashimis. I've eaten reasonably close to every animal on the planet. I think the only thing I have ever refused was a 'whale' sushi that they attempted to serve me as part of a 'Tasting Menu' in an 'exclusive' Sushi Restaurant in Oslo. I left the location, not before making a scene though.
Apart from that - from cockroaches to crunchy fried worms, snails and what else - I've eaten it. So going Vegan for 7 days can rightfully be called a 'challenge.'
Day 1 - skipping the cappuccino in favour of black coffee was okay. I like black coffee anyways so it was a bearable sacrifice. By Lunchtime I was feeling myself running badly out of options though. Nothing I felt like eating was allowed... nothing. So I resorted to the only thing that was in fact allowed and that I actually felt like having: Wine. Yup - Wine on a Monday for LUNCH - I know its shameful... but my Day 1 of my Vegan challenge will stay forever in my mind as Drunk Monday - the only drunk Monday in the history of Sylwina. In the evening I had a migraine (another thing that I usually never have... ) and of course in that moment I blamed it on the veganism, but after some wise consideration its probably to be blamed on the wine. It was not an honourable Day1 - it was a shameful but notheless fully VEGAN Day - So it counted.
Day 2 was much easier to manage. I was still craving meat, and it didn't help that I visited the Restaurant Au-gust for Lunch and Idaburg for Dinner - two places with Menu's heavily relying on meat. For those of you who don't know Au-Gust - they have a website which prior to entering the main site you get asked wether you are 'vegetarian' or 'meatlover' if you hit 'vegetarian' the site tells you to 'try again'... BUT I had a vegan salad there. In fact the team was very understanding, and extra prepared me a salad nicoise without any tuna or eggs, but more vegetable instead. And this without me introducing myself as a food blogger or anything. I was very impressed and positively surprised with the flexibility and understanding. The same was at Jdaburg - I received a lovely salad to start and grilled vegetables for main course - and I didn't leave hungry.
From Day 3 to 7: I was 'broken' into the vegan lifestyle. Its really the same as every other type of 'diet' that I have tried. It takes 3 days to get used to it. The first three days are the hardest and after that things come easy. After 4 or 5 days I actually tend to get attached to the diets - toying with the thought of sticking to them. The thought of going back to the 'old' habits just seems a bit estranging. I passed the remaining days of my Vegan Week with experimenting at home, exploring options, cooking and of course visiting restaurants.
Eating Out VEGAN: Its a challenge - but I was SO surprised how helpful & understanding each Place I visited was. I ate amazingly Vegan dishes everywhere I went.
the Winners where:
LUNCH: Giesserei I got a vegan Caponata that looked like a regular one - http://www.diegiesserei.ch/
DINNER: Rive Gauche which actually has vegan options on the Menu including pastas and salads - http://www.agauche.ch/
BRUNCH: Cafe des Amis where I had vegan lentil köfte and hummus with greens and fruits - http://www.desamis.ch/
LOVED IT! Made being vegan so easy and fun!
Vegan at Home: Was actually really fun, because its an experiment. I went shopping for some special vegan foods & veggies and tried different dishes at home - my favourite was the vegan pancakes made with my regular recipe but simply replacing the milk with coconut milk - these pancakes actually tasted better than the regular crepes. I will definitely keep using this version of the recipe in the future. I combined it with roasted poppyseeds, strawberries and maple sirup - Amazing combination! It was my Sunday cheat treat. I also made fun stuff like stirs, curries and my own kale chips - lovely :)
What I loved: Grilled vegetables, Avocados, Dates, Goji Berries, Coconut Milk, Dark Vegan Chocolate, Rice Noodles and delicious Salads with Sesame Wasabi or minty sweet Lime dressings. 50g of Popcorn made with a tiny bit of sunflowerseed oil is the perfect snack for those much loved movie nights.
What I skipped: I did not eat any of these ready vegan products such as protein bars, granola, or ice creams - because of course just because something is 'vegan' doesn't make it healthy. I believe strongly in eating clean and 'unprocessed' foods as much as possible - so any processed fatty granola snack bars are just never an option for me - I do not care if its vegan or not. I love to eat nuts and dried fruits - but I alway mix very tiny portions of it into my salads or vegetables - I never eat them 'en bloc'.
Diet Factor: For those of you who are looking to shed a few KG's - be careful when you are going vegan. If you go vegan and you stick to your normal diet but simply skip the animal products and only replace the necessities - you will loose weight. Because you are cutting food. If however you start building in all kinds of specially 'Vegan' foods - you run into the risk of actually consuming more calories than you did before. So just pay attention: just because its vegan does not make it light! If you keep this in mind and steer off the really fatty vegan ready made & packaged products - you should be fine.
Will I stick to being Vegan? I got asked this question SO many times during my past week, and the answer is NO definitely not. I will always stick to my basic food credo which is a balanced clean mix of everything. Keeping processed foods to a minimum; following a 90% clean & 10% cheat ratio. I just love variety too much, I want everything. I don't ever want to give up anything long term - I am so super happy that I do not have allergies & I love to try new things. To me, these food experiments are just fun, culinary vacations, where I experience something new and push myself to stick to a regimen. It builds my discipline and strengthens my mental power, it also builds my creativity and opens up my mind. It also helps me to understand the people who are applying this diet long term, and it takes me inside the experience by putting me in their shoes in everyday life situations. But I will for sure never follow a 'glutenfree' or 'vegan' or 'atkins' diet longterm - I finally do not believe that any of them is better or healthier than my regular eating habits.
If you are considering to do a vegan, or vegetarian challenge, I think its a super good idea. It will teach you to take eating decisions with your brain rather than your gut. This is the first and most essential step to controlling your diet and eating the way you actually want to be eating. Its an open secret that we all struggle with our cravings now and then - having the mental power to control these urges is the key to a successful diet.
so - give yourself a Challenge (even if its just giving up chocolate or cheese for a week) and share it with us :)
by doing this YOU will inspire the people in your life to make a positive change to their way of eating too!!!
much love & have a great Week