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How I (Almost) Survived Seven Long Days of Veganism

It's been one week since I pledged to abstain from all animal products, and I kept a journal to track my progress during the week. Here are some highlights for your amusement:

Monday, 10:30 a.m.: Day one. Cold-brewed coffee with a splash of almond milk and a vegan banana muffin for breakfast. I'm used to eggs in the morning but I can totally deal with this. Man, this vegan thing might not be too bad. Maybe I'll even go two weeks.

Monday, 8:52 p.m.: My fridge is embarrassingly bare. I eat an avocado, some fruit and crackers for dinner. My boyfriend is assembling a sandwich with last night's leftover steak and it smells delicious. I have an overwhelming urge to punch him in the balls. Is this normal?

Tuesday, 7:29 p.m.: Made potato, spinach and chickpea curry, plus basmati rice with saffron and cinnamon. I should've made veggie stock; cooking rice in water feels like a wasted opportunity to impart flavor. It's spicy as hell (used 2 and a half serranos) but really tasty.

Wednesday, 2:15 p.m.: Leftover curry tastes even better the next day. It seems like I'm hungry every 2 hours or so. Snacking on dried cherries and almonds.

Wednesday, 4:20 p.m.: Have to make cupcakes for a birthday party. Taste a tiny bit of Swiss buttercream off my finger to make sure it's right. Mmm, butter.

Wednesday, 7:50 p.m.: Attend a birthday dinner at Nate's, fried seafood mecca. I order grilled vegetables. And beer, lots of beer. I steal a fried oyster off someone's plate when no one's looking. It tastes of the ocean and guilt.

Wednesday, 11:45 p.m.: My boyfriend's cooking bacon. I hate you so hard. I distract myself with some Oreos and a glass of almond milk and go to bed.

Thursday: I'm running around and don't have a chance to eat anything after breakfast. Inhale a chocolate-hazelnut Larabar mid-afternoon so I don't pass out. The rest of my calories today come from cocktails; no egg whites, cream or honey, though! I'm feeling so very virtuous. And very drunk. I sleep better than I have all week.

Friday, 8:35 p.m.: My grand plans to whip up a vegan eggplant dish are quashed by an impromptu social event. I eat a Boca burger on my way out and die a little inside.

Saturday, 2:30 p.m.: I wake up with a wicked hangover and the thought of another vegan day does not appeal to my queasy stomach and dry mouth. My boyfriend mentions going to Uncle Uber's to grab a Cuban sandwich; my resolve weakened, I emphatically agree. With the first bite, all my troubles melt away into a mixture of savory pork fat and tangy mustard that drips onto my shirt. I have officially ended my vegan experiment two days early and I'm relieved.

I pretty much picked the worst possible time to attempt a vegan diet. I was cash-poor after bills and therefore grossly unprepared, and too busy to cook many meals. The point of this endeavor was to eat healthier, and I succeeded at times but ended up consuming a lot of sugar to try and satiate my cravings for meat and dairy. When I actually had time and resources to cook proper meals, I was reasonably satisfied, but eating out with friends at restaurants that weren't vegan-friendly felt like punishment.

I did learn a few things, though: Spicy food is satisfying food. Don't buy the protein-fortified almond milk, it tastes like vanilla chalk. Lots of processed foods are 99 percent vegan but sneak in whey right at the bottom of the ingredients list. Not everything needs to have cheese on it. Diets of any kind make me melancholy.

I'll try again someday; with proper preparation I think I'd make it all seven days and maybe even longer. For now it's back to our regularly scheduled Meatless Mondays. Now please excuse me, I've got some eggplant to roast.


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