Last week, I decided to consistently consume a vegan diet for seven whole days. Although the removal of animal products and by-products from one’s diet proves beneficial, I did not do this for health reasons. I chose to go vegan as a means of having a better understanding of what drug addicts go through when they are in the process of withdrawal and recovery. Yes, I realize that narcotics and animal products are two entirely different things, but choosing to give up one of them is similar the giving up the other in more ways than one.
For example, both going vegan and recovering from drug addiction require commitment, dedication, and an overall want for one to better themselves. Both vegans and recovering drug addicts must make a conscious choice to avoid the consumption of products, even when they’re surrounded by people consuming said products.
I told a few people that I would be going vegan for a week, including Carla, the manager of UNT’s Mean Greens vegan dining hall, my hometown best friend Nick, and my friend Jake, who lives in Colorado and is an expert in all things vegan and environmentally conscious. I was rather vague on why I was doing so, but I am hoping that the journals I kept will clear up why I chose to.
I didn’t really set any rules for the week-long project, however, I knew that if I slipped up and consumed an animal product, I would continue to consume vegan products until the week was over, as drug addicts don’t give up on recovery after one relapse.
Throughout the course of the past seven days, I kept a handwritten journal and recorded my thoughts and feelings, in the fashion of one on a probation or rehabilitation program. Today, I have transcribed said journals into a WordPress entry. The journals can be read below.
Monday, October 10th, 2016 – Day One
Today, I decided that I will be going vegan for a week. I am doing this so I can better understand the feelings and emotions that recovering drug addicts feel on a daily basis. For my first vegan meal of the week, I had hash browns, a biscuit, and cashew gravy, accompanied by a cup of coffee sweetened with vanilla soy milk. It wasn’t bad at all, in fact, the hash browns were some of the best I’ve had in a long time.
When lunch came, I was still feeling full and satisfied from breakfast, so I only ate a salad with spring mix, spinach, chickpeas, quinoa, croutons and balsamic dressing. It was good. I don’t see how people can’t like salads. I mean, you dress them up the way you want.
Dinner came around, and I had some pizza and a side of bowtie noodles with marinara, along with my signature salad from lunch.
Overall, it was a good first day. I don’t think consuming a vegan diet for a week should be a problem.
Tuesday, October 11th, 2016 – Day Two
I was running late to class today, so I didn’t have time to eat breakfast beforehand. At lunch time, I had one of the Mean Greens Cafe’s signature vegan paninis. Every day, Mean Greens offers paninis with a patty made from plant products, and allows the diner to fill out a form selecting the toppings he or she wants. Today, they had risotto and white bean patties. My friend Randall came to meet up with me for lunch, and he discussed the process of finding a post-grad “grown-up” job. I am currently sending out applications, resumes, and cover letters to companies I’m interested in working for, but I’m still somewhat nervous. Luckily, since I’ve begun eating vegan, I’ve had a lot more energy to be actively searching for jobs and draft cover letters, as well as getting my homework and projects done.
I’m feeling a lot less lethargic, however, I think my body’s beginning to adjust to my vegan diet. My stomach is acting weird, and I messaged my friend Jake about it, and he assured me that it’s all part of the adjustment process. I guess this is similar to going through withdrawals following the removal of illegal substances.
For dinner, I had my signature salad, along with two slices of pizza, and some soy vanilla ice cream for dessert.
Wednesday, October 12th, 2016 – Day Three
So, I managed to fuck up today. I was on my way to work, and I stopped at Starbucks for a pick-me-up. I ordered a chai latte with almond milk, however, there was a Chick-Fil-A down the street, and I could hear a crispy chicken biscuit calling my name. I caved and I bought one. It was delicious, however, felt sinful at the moment. I didn’t tell Jake about it because I didn’t feel it necessary, however, I did recall him telling me that it’s easier to ease into a vegan diet slowly, as opposed just immediately giving up all animal products.
Of course, I continued to eat vegan for the rest of the day, because drug addicts aren’t supposed to give up after one relapse.
I was working in the office throughout the day, so my lunch consisted of Veggie Straws and pine nut hummus from Trader Joe’s.
I got back to Denton around dinner time and had dinner at Mean Greens, per usual. Today, the veganinis were made with carrot and couscous patties. I was a bit iffy on trying them at first, but they turned out to be delicious. I also had cherry cobbler for dessert.
Thursday, October 13th, 2016 – Day Four
Today went pretty well. I woke up with enough time to have breakfast before class. I had a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch and a banana. I had no idea that Cinnamon Toast Crunch could be considered vegan, but I guess it is.
For lunch, I had pizza, tofu nuggets, and basmati rice. I wasn’t super keen on the tofu nuggets, however, everything else was good.
My younger brother, Andy, joined me for dinner. He didn’t really seem interested in the vegan products, so he opted for a bowl of cereal. However, he seemed disdainful at the fact that the dining hall only offered soy milk. I really wish Andy would at least try to make an effort to eat healthier, but there’s not much I can do.
Friday, October 14th, 2016 – Day Five
Today marked five years since the opening of the Mean Greens dining hall at UNT. Carla, the dining hall manager, had organized a party to celebrate and had been reminding me all week to show up.
Carla really went all out for the event. There was a live band, there were people handing out stickers and kombucha samples, and an ice sculpture. Plus, she even ordered a geofilter for Snapchat for the occasion.
At the anniversary event, I had a gyro sandwich (made with vegan seitan), a black bean slider, and a lasagna made with eggplant and squash.
Later on, I went to Rusty Taco for happy hour. Margaritas are primarily comprised of fruit, right?
After that, I went to the home of a friend from my class, whom had invited me to hang out with his girlfriend. She made a delicious dinner with pork chops and scalloped potatoes. Obviously, I wasn’t going to turn down a home-cooked meal that someone worked hard on. And I damn sure am glad I didn’t!
I realize that if someone were to have been offering me heroin, I would’ve fucked up big time, however, it was special occasion.
Saturday, October 15th, 2016 – Day 6
I woke up hungover this morning, which was a direct result of the margaritas and beer that had been consumed last night. My new friends seem like nice people, and I’m very excited to get to know them.
I went to the gym to try and beat the hangover, and it worked pretty well for me.
For lunch, I went to Verts Mediterranean Grill and had a pita sandwich stuffed with spring mix, chickpeas, hummus, mushrooms, red onions, and falafel, and a side of french fries.
I didn’t go out tonight, because I have a lot of homework to catch up on, plus midterms are imminent, so I’m currently sitting at my desk studying and eating kale chips with my favorite pine nut hummus.
Sunday, October 16th, 2016 – Day 7
Today was the last day of my week-long vegan diet, and it also was the ultimate test. Sundays are usually reserved for homework and football, and I knew the latter of which would test my willpower, specifically when I was at the bar and surrounded by a copious amount of wings, queso, and tacos.
I started of the day with a bowl of Raisin Bran, a banana, and a cup of cranberry juice. After breakfast, I went to the library to study and do homework. Throughout the course of the day, I munched on my snack of choice, kale chips and pine nut hummus.
By the time I was finished with my homework, I was so full on my vegan snacks that I surprisingly didn’t feel tempted by the bar food at Lucky Lou’s, one of my favorite bars in Denton.
Overall, I’d say it was a pretty successful week. Yeah, I did “relapse” at a couple of points, but I managed to remain committed for an entire week.
Going vegan for a week proved to be a challenge, however, I did take away a better understanding of the obstacles drug addicts face on a daily basis. Overcoming an addiction requires hard work, patience, and dedication, and those who are able to do so are some of the strongest people.
After the week-long project, I can say that living a vegan lifestyle isn’t for me, however, I do plan on incorporating more leafy greens and fruits into my diet. Honestly, I wish I would’ve been more health-conscious from an earlier age. After having eaten vegan for a week, I feel more energized, focused and alert. Albeit slightly difficult, going vegan isn’t miserable, and there are lots of substitutes for animal products that can easily fit one’s needs.