I Went Vegan For a Week. Here’s What Happened


Thomas Thibault ’19 Credit: Photo Editor Poojaa Prakash Babu ’21

It’s day three and I’ve come to this conclusion: being vegan sucks. That’s a little dramatic, I know. It isn’t as bad as I thought it would be, but still, I crave chicken at the weirdest times.

During March break, I noticed how back home, in Quebec City, Canada, people have started adopting a less meat-heavy diet.

Home, we would cook meals with meat substitutes such as tempeh and beans. While on the topic of veganism, my mother admitted to me that for the past five years, the “meat” in her spaghetti sauce was actually tofu. It baffled me, seeing as how easily it had been to replace meat for a healthier option.

I stopped eating red meat and drinking dairy milk about a year and a half ago. It has been an easier transition than people think it would’ve been for me, an athlete with a fairly big appetite.

“Don’t you need meat to stay big and strong?” many asked.

The truth is that more and more athletes are making the switch from meat-based diets to plant-based diets. In 2016, a dozen players from the Tennessee Titans football team had reportedly asked for a no-meat diet entering training camp. Legendary Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has been “partly” vegan for more than five years, along with his wife and children.

“We all love it,” Brady explained. “It’s not only good for our health and makes us feel good, but it is also good for the planet.”

So there I was, during break, watching my mother, so proud of how she fooled her four sons into eating tofu for years. But realistically, if she had never told me, I would never have noticed. So how hard can it be for me to be vegan for an entire week at Williston?

Note that my goal was not only to see how easy it was, but also how sustainable it would for me to go green without losing weight. I started off the week weighing in at 232.4 pounds.

After the first three days, I have to say, my meals are extremely repetitive. WOWBUTTER bagel in the morning with fruit, and usually a pastry dish. Pasta with tomato sauce and a side of rice at lunch, pasta with tomato sauce and a salad at supper.

Perhaps it’s just how I felt that particular journalism class, but my co-writers noticed a certain change in my mood.

“You are definitely more irritable, kind of on edge and jumpy” my editor-in-chief, Ellie Wolfe ’19, told me.

The positive aspect of eating vegan at Williston is that there is an unlimited quantity of pasta and salad at my disposal. But for full-time vegans who eat at school, I must have a very unimaginative mind, because that’s the only vegan meal I could even think of.

Katy Briedis, Math Teacher, who has a limited diet due to allergies, has the same meals every day for lunch and supper.

“Chicken and salad, every day” she explained. “It gets insanely boring because were very limited in our food choices. I can try to mix up my salad but it doesn’t do justice to what I’m missing out on.”

Vegan.com goes into depth about the foods that one can eat to assure the intake of certain nutrients generally associated to meats, such as protein and iron. Though I thought there would be very few options to replace the meat I’d be skipping, a quick look at the website shows an exhaustive list of substitutes that can fulfill the daily requirements.

“A well balanced vegan diet contains all the protein, fat, carbohydrate, vitamins and minerals you need,” the website explains. “It is low in saturated fat and free from animal protein, cholesterol and hormones – all linked to disease.”

It’s Thursday night, and I just enjoyed the nachos from the grill at supper. I had tortilla chips (no cheese), topped with tomato, onions, olives, and black beans. I have been vegan for six days as of this article, and although many people think I am suffering completely, I am doing all right.

Waking up at 6:20 am to go workout this week has been easier, since my diet has been healthier and  my blood sugar does not rise and crash like it does typically. I have also limited myself on my intake of food after study hall, therefore saving money.

But the most important part, to me, was seeing if I would lose weight after this week. I weighed myself in, anxious, as I cannot afford to lose any weight at this point. The scale flashed a 227.3 pounds. Not great at all. Given that the standard deviation of my weight has always been of two to three pounds daily, I can estimate a weight loss of about three to four pounds. But I began the week at 232.4, and I have to weigh 250 lbs. when I show up for preseason football camp at Columbia University on August 5.

Its been a wild week, and I’m excited to having chicken to accompany my pasta and salad, but I do believe that while going vegan entirely would prove to be a challenge, it is reasonable to say that I will definitely be more conscious of the choices I make while picking out foods at the dining hall. Going a day or two a week as a vegan is doable, for me, and I encourage anyone who wants a more impactful diet to do the same.