By Cole Rush
It was one of those groggy wake-ups inspired by the previous night’s shenanigans mixed with sleeping in an unfamiliar place. I opened my eyes, stretched, and warmed up the vocal chords with a simple statement:
“We’re vegans now.”
Erin, my girlfriend, replied with an indiscernible noise, likely a distant cousin of “ughhhhh,” and our friends Dylan and Christina laughed. Harry Potter themed clothing lined the hotel room in Grand Rapids where we made our home for the night. The Michigan city’s symphony orchestra had played a Harry Potter symphony the night prior, which we attended after consuming copious amounts of delicious tapas.
It was by pure chance that our week of veganism began the same day we were scheduled to return home from Michigan, but we made the most of it and downed some coffee, avoiding any artificial sweetener that may have been processed with animal products.
That first day was by far the hardest for one reason: Denny’s. We stopped in a small Michigan town for breakfast, perusing the menu for vegan options. This proved difficult–amidst the bacon and eggs and sausage, items lacking any animal product were scarce indeed. I decided on a veggie skillet with a side of butterless toast. I was heartbroken when the toast came with butter, and only cried a little. The waitress kindly corrected the kitchen’s mistake, though, and I munched on the butterless toast as I stared longingly at the incorrect batch glistening with melty greatness.
Erin and I traipsed through the rest of the week with relative ease, only occasionally whining about lack of meat. Surprisingly, eggs and cheese occupied most of our mourning; we missed those ingredients and the food made with them much more than anything else.
Thanks to our roommate, we found a handful of local restaurants boasting plant-based menus and took full advantage. Native Foods was my personal favorite; we liked it so much we had it three times throughout the week. The lentil and bean burger with cashew cheese was delectable. We also tried local joint Vegan Plate, where we enjoyed soy orange chicken.
We tried a few vegan recipes at home as well, including a kidney bean and avocado pita, vegan pasta with vegetable sauce, and a cauliflower buffalo wing wrap. Each was tasty in its own right, even though certain dishes felt like they were trying to imitate the inimitable (lookin’ at you, cauliflower buffalo wings).
During my time as a Vegan, I mainly took away a strange affection for soy milk. I put it in my coffee and frequently sipped at a glass of the beverage on its own. Of all the things I tried, it was the most welcome new addition to my palate.
Physically speaking, I didn’t notice much of an effect, but I imagine a long-term commitment to veganism would yield tangible changes, likely a loss of weight and a need for more deliberate protein intake. I lost a few pounds along the way, but a veritable smorgasbord of meat-based fast food less than an hour after my veganism ended quickly remedied the miniscule change in my weight.
It’s worth noting that my view of veganism, even after such a short time, has changed for the better. It’s a commendable cause to avoid animal products if that’s where your ethics land, and the benefits of eliminating butter and cheese are certainly worthwhile! However, as a diet or lifestyle change for someone who typically eats hot dogs by the pair, it’s not exactly practical. Still, considering the most palpable results of my veganism were a few new restaurant options and a new affinity for soy milk, I count it as a big win. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to continue dining on my bacon mac and cheese.
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