If you think bacon is a Holy Grail to be sprinkled atop everything, can’t imagine a day without food dripping in cheese, and believe “plant-based-dieters” are a special kind of crazy, this article probably isn’t for you.
Before embarking on this challenge, I did a little research and discovered that there are three main reasons people choose a vegan lifestyle…
1. The Environmental Vegan
If you’ve been too scared to watch the movie Earthlings because of its graphic content, try out Cowspiracy. It’s a documentary outlining the harsh environmental impact that the meat and dairy industry has on the world. For example, 40% of the world’s land surface is used for farming livestock, which is responsible for roughly 80% of America’s water consumption.
2. The Health Vegan
These vegans are going green for more than just the environment. A recent study by Harvard Medical School found that those who participate in a predominately plant-based diet are at a lower risk for developing heart disease, cancer, and type II diabetes. Sounds like a win/win to me.
3. The Animal Rights Vegan
These are probably the vegans that everyone finds annoying and pretentious, but once you get the facts straight, you might have a little more sympathy and understanding for their cause. Any quick Google search will give you enough horrifying facts to make you never want to eat a Big Mac again (or at least think twice before doing so), but here’s a short little list.
Now, on to the challenge.
I made a trip to my local grocery store to pick up some fresh produce and legumes for the week and later stopped by a health food store to get a few items to replicate meat and dairy so I wouldn’t have to quit cold turkey – pun 100% intended. To find some dishes that were a little more exciting and way less intimidating than a heaping pile of kale, I searched some good vegan blogs – my favourite was this one run by a Canadian lady from the GTA.
As with any lifestyle change, I really tried to integrate being vegan into my everyday happenings, so I went out for dinner one night. I was annoyed that there was only one thing I could eat on the menu (a salad, and I’d have to hold the dressing). Fortunately enough, Toronto is filled chalk full of vegan restaurants galore.
Overall, making the change to cut out meat and dairy wasn’t too hard. I definitely had a few late-night McDonald’s cravings, but I honestly felt way better eating this way. I also found that I was paying more attention to what I was putting in my body, which forced me to make sure I was getting the right amount of nutrients and eating food that was going to taste good and keep me going through the day.
Also, eating vegan doesn’t have to mean plants and beans all the time. There’s a dangerous number of vegan bakeries and dessert shops in this city and a whole whack of junk food options to satisfy the occasional sweet tooth that are accidentally 100% vegan.
I’d definitely recommend anyone to try this out, even just for five days as a bit of cleanse. When it comes down to it, meat and dairy are things that you want, not necessarily things that you need.
And it’s pretty hypocritical to eat that cute little pig while treating your pet dog like a king.
Cover photo: Live Organic Food Bar