In the life of a vegan …

After interviewing a former vegan for this story, I wondered if eating meatless alternatives to the foods that I normally eat would make a substantial impact in the way I felt. So, I decided to try it. To take it one step further, I decided to stop eating foods with dairy products in them. I attempted to become a vegan for one week.

I know vegans don’t wear leather. My only pair of work shoes are partially made of leather, but I continued to wear them throughout the duration of this trial. The mascara I wear is likely to be tested on animals, along with the shampoos, soaps and perfumes I use. So, in this respect, I didn’t go completely vegan.

Day 1: I went to Chuck’s Natural Foods on 56th Street and bought foods that were considered to be vegan. I asked the person working the counter what I should look for when buying the food and what foods I could and couldn’t eat. She gave me a list of products that contain dairy and a list of common milk proteins that are found in various foods. After eating tofu dogs for lunch and vegan eggplant parmesan for dinner, I’ve made it through my first day.

Day 2: I lived off veggie burgers and corn chips today. I really like veggie burgers, so it wasn’t bad at all. I was craving cheese with them, though.

Day 3: My sweet mother went out of her way to cook shrimp gumbo for the family today. I asked her to add tofu to mine instead, so she did. After she was done cooking, I sat down to eat and she remembered it had butter in it, so I ate plain rice instead.

Day 4: I’m more than half way through my mission and I haven’t quit yet. Today, I made teriyaki stir fry with tofu, and it was delicious. I also ate a delicious vegetable wrap from the restaurant where I work. I asked the cook to make sure there was no butter on the vegetables and to microwave them instead of grilling them — the grill would have had animal products on it from food that was cooked on it throughout the day.

Day 5: Looking for a quick snack before I went out this afternoon, I ate a handful of Chex-Mix assuming it would be a safe bet. If I had looked at the ingredients before I ate it, I would have known that Chex-Mix contains non-fat milk, which is forbidden in a vegan diet. So, I called my mom and told her that I was a quitter and I asked her to bring me some sushi for dinner.

A vegan lifestyle is certainly a difficult one, but for animal rights activists and those who are dedicated it is achievable. I have a new respect for vegans whose diets contain no meat or dairy products, and even vegetarians.

I noticed during this trial that I was eating less. I felt healthier, probably because I was avoiding some foods that I tend to eat a lot of, such as chocolate and cheese. I also discovered that vegan meals could be very tasty. There are dozens of great vegan and vegetarian recipes available for free at .

Whitney Meers