72 hours: vegan lifestyle

Photo Courtesy of J. Kenji Lopez-Alt // There are countless meal options for vegans.

72 hours is a social experiment, exploring comfort zones and doing something different just for the heck of it. For 72 hours, I will do something I normally don’t do, and document it.

For 72 hours this month, I was a vegan. After 72 hours of a few cravings, complaints, stomach growls and many bursts of frustration, I was introduced to a glimpse of a life without meat, or foods/products that in any way harm animals on earth.

The first thing that I learned about this new lifestyle was that being vegan doesn’t mean going on a diet to lose weight or being picky when choosing exquisite foods from the most expensive and healthiest isle of Whole Foods. Rather, those who are vegan choose to do so to care for the earth, and to live a more humane and caring lifestyle. Vegans do not eat fish, meat, or poultry, and do not use any other animal products and by-products such as eggs, dairy, honey, fur, wool, soaps, and cosmetics. While vegetarians may eat eggs or drink milk, vegans do not because such cows and chickens are eventually killed and sold for meat once they are too old to be productive. Cows and chickens are also killed for not producing enough milk or eggs, and unneeded baby chicks are often ridded of. In addition, the resources needed to care for such product-producing animals often results in deforestation, habitat loss, and species extinction. Plant-based diets require only one third of the land needed to support meat and dairy diets.

First, I had to buy new products to use. I removed my nail polish (with cruelty-free nail polish remover, of course) because the brand Essie didn’t qualify as cruelty-free. Suitable alternatives are: e.l.f., Deborah Lippmann, Ciaté, and wet n wild. Many make-up brands also test on animals, such as Lancome, YSL, Dior, MAC, Benefit, Clinique, the Sephora Brand, L’Oreal, Maybelline, Revlon, and Neutrogena with I replaced with cruelty-free makeup brands such as: Too Faced, Kat Von D, Becca, Josie Maran, Urban Decay, NARS, and BareMinerals.

I replaced my Dove and Pantene soap, shampoo, and conditioner with a vegan shampoo, conditioner, and bar soap from LUSH (LUSH’s Rehab Shampoo, Veganese Conditioner, and Baked Alaska Soap were all vegan and did their jobs rather well.)

Luckily, none of my clothes were either made out of fur or were from brands that used fur. So, I didn’t have to replace any of my clothing.

My largest trouble was with food. Surprisingly, I stuck to my vegan promise for the entire 72 hours. On the first day, I was craving my normal-diet foods to fill me up. My groceries ended being about twice as expensive as my normal diet’s price is, and my amateur vegan-self did accidently pick up some ingredients that I learned only after purchasing (but before eating!) that were not suitable for the vegan diet such as organic Greek yoghurt, chocolate chip cookies, and Honey Almond Granola (which I later replaced with Kind’s Vanilla Blueberry Clusters granola – sorry vegans who are reading this and probably face palming while reading this!!)

For breakfast and lunch, I stuck to either fruit salads, granola, bagels (only egg bagels are non-vegan), or salads. I did eat a lot of oreos in between meal times. For dinner I didn’t branch out too much from carbs and pastas, since I do have pretty plain taste buds, so the first night I copied a recipe from a vegan website online for Garlic Pasta and Roasted Tomatoes. The second night I cooked Italian Orzo Spinach Soup, from the same website (see pictures below). The third night I ate out and I forget the name, but the Le Pain waitress gave me vegan suggestions and I ended up eating the soup special, a tomato based soup with beans, carrots, cauliflower, and brown rice, which I highly recommend.

Overall, my experiment this month was self-fulfilling. By the third day, my cravings were tamed and I definitely got better at controlling myself. However, I wouldn’t recommend anyone decide one day that they want to be vegan and suddenly start the diet, because if I didn’t have the motivation of having to write this article (and a little peer pressure from some honest & good people who told me to stick with it), I definitely would have devoured a cookie or some chicken wings during one of my cravings. It was self-satisfying knowing that I saved a chicken’s life, or any other animal harmed in the process of making my usual diet.

In all, I do appreciate what vegans do for our earth. I cannot say that I have the strength to cut meat and animal-related foods and products out of my life entirely (for now), but this experiment has for sure paved the way for me to try. I am now starting to try and become more environmentally-friendly, whether it be eating less meat or buying cruelty-free products.

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