I didn't know if I could but I wanted to give it a try. I kept a diary which is below which some might find entertaining or funny in parts but was really only designed for me to easily follow what I was doing. I feel its worth mentioning that I'm already a vegetarian so it was just an extension of that in some ways and that, while I dont talk about it, I did it properly (for the most part). I would not advocate people just jumping into this kind of experiment, do your research and do it healthily. I was also on a multi-vitamin the whole time, just in case and I had blood samples taken at the end which came back no different to my last results taken about 12 months ago.
After stocking up yesterday on fruits and vegetables (as well as vegan treats) today was a breeze. We (being my newly vegan again wife) had lunch at this great place called Bliss Organic Café and then went and saw a movie. Thing I didn’t realise there was a vegan equivalent for: Mayonnaise.
Today is the Sunday of a long weekend in Australia where we get tomorrow as a holiday as well. Had a really late breakfast of wholemeal English muffins and then napped for most of the day. After a long day napping we whipped up some Veggie Burgers using some lentil patties. Ended up watching a bunch of videos while consuming soy chocolate and vegan coconut biscuits. We watched Snowtown (a small Aussie movie about serial killers who lived about 10 min north of where I currently live), Catfish (a pretty cool doco about the implications of social networking online) and Desert Flower (apparently completely different from the book by the same name but still about the path from poverty to international model by a courageous Somali woman). This should really be in tomorrows entry too I’ve just realised.
Another lazy day spent watching Buffy (never watched it the first time and I can’t work out why…). Made myself a ‘Leftover Sandwich’ with shredded carrot, tomato, chilli, humus, lettuce and what I’m calling felafel chips. I took normal felafel balls, cut them into slices while cold then fried them and salted them. Was almost awesome, I think I can make them better. The sandwich was pretty good too.
Due to the long weekend in Australia this was my first day back at work after going vegan. There were no leftovers to take so it was a trusty Vegemite sandwich with soy cheese. Compared to ‘normal’ cheese, I didn’t like the soy cheese as much but I don’t think that’s because of the soy. I think it tastes like American cheese, which I’ve only had once before, and I’m not a fan. I’m going to have to find an Australian soy cheese maker. Dinner was burritos with no mince, obviously. This is something we whip up regularly but hadn’t had in a while. Twas awesome.
We also found the supermarket stock a bunch of ‘home brand’ type vegan biscuits which is good. The very good news is they have a vegan Tim Tam substitute which is very important to me.
Another day of American soy cheese and vegemite for lunch but made up for it with an awesome pad thai. Was just what I felt like after a hard day adjusting mundane thesis figures in imperceptible ways. I also came home to ‘catering quantities’ of vegan cupcakes. I’m moving to a new job tomorrow and so we are having a little farewell party for me. Yay!
Last day of planning before the teaching semester starts up again and with meetings all day I can’t help but be prepared. My first classes are a practical session on the workings of the lungs and an introduction transcription and translation for physicians. An introduction, which is coming in the 3rd to last week of the year. I can’t explain that but I can teach it.
As for food, I had no time for my lunch of left over pad thai so I was famished when I came home and tucked into pumpkin risotto. It was so excellent I kept eating till it hurt.
Special day for me!!! I started my new job today. Don’t worry, I still have all my old ones (PhD student, Associate Lecturer, Blogger, Freelance Writer) but this new one is awesome and will hopefully become a career for me. I started at the RiAus which is the Australia sister institution to The Royal Institution based in London. It’s a proper science communications job and I already love it (it helps to give me 2 computers on my first day if you want to make a good impression on me)! So busy first day but will be heaps of fun.
Had the left over pad thai for lunch today but there seemed to be heaps of water in it for some reason. I’ve had it before and it’s never sweated as much liquid as this time. Weird.
My second day at my new job and I was flat out all day straight away. This year Adelaide is hosting the Festival of Ideas and we are one of the venues being used. I was involved in co-ordinating events all day including a talk from Jeffrey Schumaker about the High Line NYC project that came out of the PlaNYC vision for New York, a community forum on emerging technologies related to regenerative medicine, zero emission cities and the development of synthetic meat. Jeff Jones gave a great talk on the entry of machines into the social world, among other things, and the day ended with a great talk by Su Groome about the idea of a do-tank as opposed to a think-tank and the development of goal and objective orientated project groups. I barely had time to eat and when I did it turned out to not have been strictly vegan. They were just sandwiches and they didn’t have cheese or butter on them so my guess is they were okay. Still had left over risotto for dinner, which was still awesome.
Second day of the Festival of Ideas today and again I had the possibly vegan sandwiches for lunch. Today were some great sessions including Bryan Gaensler discussing why nothing matters as the cosmos will always get you in the end. It was awesome to hear about all the ways our planet and galaxy will meet its demise. Next up was “The tyranny of the online majority” by Jody Melbourne about the nature of the group Anonomyous. Very interesting to see an ‘insiders’ perspective. Then the editor of COSMOS magazine, Wilson DaSilva spoke about how Australia can meet its energy requirements with zero emissions by 2030. Finally Bert Bongers spoke about the concept of Interactivism and the interface between man and machine from a design perspective. As well as being my first hands on event as a member of staff it was great to catch most of the sessions too.
Dinner was vegan ‘sausages’ with mashed potato. That’s right, vegan bangers and mash.
My second day in the office today (as opposed to the last two days out of the office but running around) was filled with meetings. On the up side I got a tour of the AV of the building and got my business cards organised, never had some of those before. For dinner we had two curries. They were out of boxes but they are pretty good, comfort food more than accurate representations of curry I think though. One was called Bombay Potatoes and the other Punjab Eggplant.
Being a Tuesday I’m at my other job today (and Thursdays) teaching undergraduate biology. An intense tutorial on transcription and translation and a practical on the peak expiratory flow rate (separate classes obviously) and I’m wrecked. Left over curry for lunch and dinner. Then bed.
Days 15 & 16
A rare weekend off this week and I’m feeling rubbish. Trust me to finally get some time to work on my thesis then throw my back out and have to spend the whole weekend horizontal. I did manage to watch a lot of Buffy episodes so its not all bad. I’m writing this entry a little after the fact and I don’t remember anything of the weekend except for Buffy and burritos so despite the agonising back pain it seems otherwise pretty good!
And so it begins. It is now hot enough (today at least) to justify big bowls of salad. Was only a garden salad we had for dinner but was enough to make a horse stop being hungry. Who’d have thought you could feel bloated and full because of too much lettuce.
When left to my own devices I do not tend to eat well. My wife has a late shift so I’m cooking for one. I pureed some tomatoes, added them to some Mexican rice with some chillies and vegan sausages. Was easy, delicious but not necessarily nutritious.
One of the major things I will be working on in my new job is the on the day running of the local TEDx event, TEDxAdelaide. I had to attend a meeting about it which meant dinner on the go resulting in a less than inspiring Subway sandwich for dinner. On the plus side I have worked out that my mum works incredibly close to my new office. I made her buy me a tofu salad for lunch.
The World Solar Challenge ended today and I was there in an official capacity teaching kids how to build the simplest electric motor. No time for lunch and had baked beans and hot chips for dinner.
A sleep in was required today. The next few weekends I will be working solid so I think I have earned it. I spent the day furniture shopping, looking for a tallboy, before crashing again at home for a nap. For dinner we resorted to comfort food. A kind of vegetable mash, mashed potatoes with pumpkin, sweet potato, chilli, broccoli and cabbage all added. Looks a little like baby food but contains about every single nutrient I need to get and is nice and comforting.
Back to work planning my first big trip away. Also got handed my first science news story to cover for COSMOS magazine. I had vegetable mash for lunch again and as it turns out didn’t have dinner. I did have some cashews when I got home and after that I just never got hungry I guess.
My second to last day of teaching was completed today. It’s a weird feeling given that teaching has been such a large part of my life this year and over the last few years it has supplemented my PhD. I can’t see me doing too much more of it which is a shame. I’ll be interested to see how I feel on Thursday (the 27th). Diner was burritos. I love Mexican food, its so vegan friendly.
Left over burrito mix for lunch today, when I finally got to eat it. I’m still getting used to all the meetings I have to go to but I’m sure I’ll adjust. By the time I got home my wife and I couldn’t be bothered cooking so we ordered pan-Asian food. I got crispy noodles with extra chilli and tofu which was great.
So that’s it. While I am an Associate Lecturer still till the 4th of November I don’t have any more classes so I don’t anticipate a whole lot more teaching. I’ve decided I’m happy about it. I would have kept teaching but I couldn’t stay on that level of pay forever and my new position is too good to be true. I had my wife’s leftovers, tofu with peanut and coconut sauce, I think it was better than mine but I’d never tell her that.
My first interstate event to help run and organise is an event called “The Science of Doctor Who” which is being held in Natimuk, Victoria. Only took about 5 hours to drive there from Adelaide with stops and breaks along the way. I’m afraid country Australia is not friendly to vegans and I ended up having to order a salad and pick out the cheese and egg for lunch. Dinner was probably vegan as it was a chilli and spinach pasta but I forgot about the garlic bread, that was probably not strictly vegan. Still I think, given the circumstances, I did pretty well. Also there was beer and whisky at the end when we met the speakers, nothing quite like drinking in the country.
So I said there is nothing like drinking in the country, some things stay the same. Hangovers are not awesome.
Country towns do make the best bread though and that makes the best toast. I haven’t normally mentioned breakfast because I normally have toast but this toast was awesome. Big pieces of sourdough with homemade apricot and strawberry jams. I also mention it because I didn’t get to eat again until we ordered dinner because of the event we ran in the middle of the day. ‘The Science of Doctor Who’ went so well it was ridiculous. We were expecting the event to have no problem but a first run of an event with such multimedia integration is always fraught with danger. We had a great audience and I think we really put on a show.
Dinner was pizza and for the first time in a long time non-vegans only out numbered vegans by 1 on a group of 7! Three of us meant we could order enough food rather than just enough for a change.
We head home tomorrow 4 -5 hours driving, I’ll throw up some pics we take on the way back.
Well that was a long drive home. We took our time taking photos the whole way back but it still took longer than we expected. I’ll throw some of the photos up later, if you’re a Dr Who fan I think you’ll really like them.
As for food, everyone involved had breakfast together. I only had toast but the other two vegans on the trip ordered baked beans and mushrooms on toast. It had to be sent back twice because the café first buttered the bread and the second time because the baked beans had had ham added to them. Who does that? We ended up getting a full refund but it was still pretty bad form.
All I ate after that was soy chocolate and hot chips. Nothing for dinner because I was exhausted! Was terrific fun but incredibly tiring also.
Last day of my self imposed vegan challenge. The only thing that was different from normal was the celebratory dinner last night but otherwise completely uneventful. Normal breakfast, worked through lunch and dinner was vegetarian spaghetti, and herein lies the problem.
I have thoroughly enjoyed trying to go vegan and I think I was pretty good. There are definitely things I have changed (soy milk and chocolate adopted in favour of cow milk varieties, no eggs, no cheese) which I will continue with to the best of my abilities but I can’t do it completely. I’m sure it’s a cop-out but I can’t control my entire environment and last nights dinner is a great example. I reviewed my choice was very careful and then when my spaghetti came out I’m pretty sure it had cream in the sauce. I was too hungry and too tired to not eat it so I did. I felt bad but I had genuinely tried. It’s for this reason my wife and I made the decision to go ‘vegan-at-home’ or what I am calling ‘vegan-when-convenient’. I’m not going to order the three cheeses pasta but if my dish has grated Parmesan on it I’m not going to send it back. I’m not going to order an omelette but if egg is used to bind a hash brown and I didn’t think to ask in advance I’m not going to ask for my money back. At home, I will be vegan, vegan diet, clothes, cleaning products etc. but things move to fast for me to control my environment and this is the happiest medium I can think of.
What do you think? Am I wrong to do this? What else would you suggest?
As I said though it was interesting and eye opening. Going vego or vegan for a week/month is something everyone should try. It will open your eyes to the world of food production and consumerism and you might find it difficult to go all the way back.