Veganism has been creeping up in conversation a lot lately. These days, more and more people are boasting benefits of being completely plant based, and about the positive changes it does for the environment and general health and well-being of humankind.
All signs pointed to “yes” last month when I reasoned to myself that I should give veganism a temporary try. From Kuwait Vegan Society’s anticipated two-day workshop with public speakers and animal rights activists Dr. Melanie Joy and Tobias Leenaert, to Ramadan looming and its requisite need for a detox before the food-centric holiday season’s meals were due to hit my digestive system with vengeance.
I set the rules with reasoning: for a duration of exactly one week, I would act like a vegan, think like a vegan, and eat like a vegan. No dairy, no animal products of any kind. No fish, meat, eggs or palm oil – though we should be avoiding that in all cases. Not even honey, which most vegans argue against the use of due to modern processed honey’s exploitation of bees, was allowed to make its way into my ecosystem. In short, if it wasn’t plant based, it couldn’t pass my lips.
For the most part, the entire experience was a breeze. I was feeding myself, mostly, cooking at home and enjoying concocting vegan substitutes to heighten meals I always loved. Breakfasts were easy, because my everyday breakfasts usually fall into the “accidentally vegan” variety. I don’t believe in drinking cow’s milk in excess, and already was accustomed to buying and consuming nut-based milks of the almond and coconut variety.
Couple that with some raw oats, fresh blueberries, or a sliced banana and some cacao nibs, and you have yourself a filling breakfast! Other vegan favorites for breakfast include Middle Eastern crowd pleasers more suitable for the weekend like foul moudames (pureed fava beans topped with olive oil and eaten with bread and garnish) and za’atar manakish.
Calzone or flatbread style, a thyme and olive oil concoction is enough to relieve you from filling any cheesy void you may feel. The same could be said for making pesto with cashews and nutritional yeast rather than parmesan. And while we’re on the subject, nutritional yeast is indeed a life saver, and is in fact the only thing that will satisfy (and maybe even mimic) the taste of cheddar on anything.
But, nutritional yeast is hardly a miracle worker, and there are some things it could never replace. This is where veganism showed its ugly side: when I wanted pizza. Day two into my excursion, I thought it would be interesting to order a cheese-free pie from an unnamed spot I hold dear to my heart as my go-to delivery joint.
Using a well-known, trusty app, I placed my order with request for the pie to not have even a sprinkle of dairy on it. Lo and behold, the request was ignored. Maybe it was the restaurant’s fault, perhaps it was the app’s fault, and it could have possibly been my fault, but nonetheless, I spent the rest of the evening pizza-less and pouting
Forward to another disappointment I discovered, is that continental restaurants don’t always take the time to understand a vegan’s needs. This proved to be an experience when I went out dining with a seasoned vegan friend of mine who took me to a foolproof Mexican spot and ordered her usual altered chimichanga with such great skill and detail that I highly doubted the possibility of our competent waiter messing it up.
Needless to say, once our golden chimichangas had appeared, they were infused with chicken, and my friend sat there preaching about how she just unknowingly paid for yet another animal’s suffering while our waiter stood uncomfortably, not quite knowing what to do. The chimichanga was delicious though, once it came correctly.
In conclusion, the vegan experience had its highs and lows. Highs included an increase of energy, and a surge that had me considering to convert to this lifestyle full-time. I kept preaching about how good I felt, and how clear my inflammatory skin was. Lows were the moments I missed cheese – the moments I realized that I could never have steak, salmon or real pizza ever again (pizza without cheese is amazing, but it’s literally just flatbread.)
Could I do it full time? There’s no reason not to, honestly. Plant based is the way to go. We really don’t need animal proteins, and science is making it easier to find happy substitutions that will satisfy our cravings. Let’s just pray that a decent vegan cheese hits the marketplace soon.
Featured image by bazaar staff
For more on Veganism, read the following at bazaar.town: