I went vegan for a week (well, kind of). Here’s how I did it

Junior+Sarah+Moore+shows+off+her+veggie+rice+paper+roll.

Image: Mary Helene Hall

Junior Sarah Moore shows off her veggie rice paper roll.

If this week has taught me anything, it’s that I enjoy cheese a bit too much. 

I eat it with every meal! Raised on meat and potatoes, I figured going vegan for a week meant I was in for a week of mass chaos, torture and hunger, but I was completely wrong. 

Instead, going vegan for a week opened my eyes to a range of dishes, snacks and funky flavors that I never would have experienced otherwise. It also led me to the realization that there really are so many foods that are vegan that we don’t even know about. 

My first adventure into the world of vegan foods was with sweet potato and red lentil curry. 

I have never in my life eaten a lentil, much less known what it was or seen one, so going to the grocery store was the first hurdle. 

Publix turns out to be the key place to find all things curry-related, so after putting the never-before-seen lentils in my cart as well as the red curry paste I had only previously seen on television, I headed to check out and realized this was truly the first time I had been shopping and didn’t buy some type of dairy product (usually ice cream because it’s a comfort food) or meat. 

Cooking red lentils is an interesting experience because they completely turn to mush.

This was normal, however, as lentils are used to thicken and add protein to the curry. 

The meal included sweet potatoes, red lentils, red curry paste, coconut milk, ginger, garlic, onion, tomato and vegetable broth. The best part is that it was all made in one pot! 

I decided to serve mine with rice since I had some readily available. It truly was amazing! Another great part of this recipe is that it makes multiple servings, so I was able to have leftovers through my week-long vegan adventure. 

Another fantastic recipe was given to me by Sarah Moore, a junior Spanish and English major here at Mercer. Moore is also vice president of the Vegan Club. 

Moore sent me a recipe for chickpea cookie dough that uses chickpeas, peanut butter, maple syrup, vanilla extract and chocolate chips. These cookies truly rocked my world. They are not like chocolate chip cookies at all though, but they do taste amazing. 

One thing I’ve discovered from this experiment is that vegan food doesn’t always taste like non-vegan food, but it is actually delicious! 

Plant-based burgers, red beans and rice, sweet potato and red lentil curry and even vegan cookies are all great alternatives to foods that contain animal products, and are just genuinely great foods in their own right. 

Moore introduced me to some vegan snack choices as well. 

“My favorite vegan snacks are hummus and pretzels, apples and peanut butter and there are tons of other vegan snacks like Oreos,” Moore said. 

One of my biases towards veganism was the idea that there were so few options, but this actually isn’t true. There are numerous options.

“When I first went vegan, I didn’t realize how easy it was to be vegan on Mercer’s campus. I love how they’ve added more vegan options every year,” Moore said. 

I will say that one downside to veganism is the realization that, even with all of these options, there are still so many times where individuals have to be immensely careful of what they eat. I learned this firsthand as I messed up on day four. 

Day four of my vegan journey was going well until I ate a brownie made with eggs, milk and butter.

I truly felt like I had one job and had failed at that job! 

With that being said, the four days of my vegan journey went much better than I thought it would. I tried some amazing dishes, got to speak to a fellow student about her favorite vegan foods and found a new love for peanut butter. Overall, I think this was a fun experience. 

While I don’t think I could be vegan like Moore, I do know now how to live on a vegan diet—at least for four days.