Gracie Taylor trades fried eggs and beef burgers for zoodles, avocado and jackfruit.
My initial reaction to this Road Test was: Hell no! I love eggs too much and I need a meat protein at least once a day for energy. But after careful consideration, I decided to try it. For five days I followed the Vegan Society NZ's "Try Vegan" menu. This is an honest diary of my efforts – Peking duck blow-out included.
Breakfast: Whole oats in water, freeze-dried raspberries
Lunch: Zoodles, dairy-free pesto, red onions and mushroom
Dinner: Vegan Society NZ's roast vegetable ratatouille, a beer
I fry two eggs with sriracha every morning - but not today. Instead, I had oats and berries. It was bland but filling. My zoodle dish for lunch was delicious. I didn't miss any meat or protein in this meal. Mid-afternoon came around and I didn't feel the need for a snack. I still had enough energy to power through to dinner: a vegan ratatouille to which I added heaps of fresh parsley and a side of avocado.
The verdict: Not too difficult. I didn't starve as I thought I would.
Breakfast: Whole oats in water, fresh raspberries
Lunch: Hummus sandwich with cucumber, red onion, tomato
Dinner: Broccoli curry, black bean noodles, a red wine (not vegan)
I felt energised but my porridge didn't really fill the gap. I had a super-busy day, including taste testing seven types of dairy-free icecream - which made me feel kind of gross. There were other temptations too: cakes and sausage rolls. But I refrained. Lunch was a hummus sandwich. It was not filling, nor exciting. It was sad and soggy. But the broccoli curry for dinner with friends left us all really impressed. I added coconut cream to thicken it up and plenty of garlic, ginger and fresh chillies.
The verdict: The soggy sandwich was pretty much a total fail.
Breakfast: Vegan Vogels toast with avocado, salt and pepper
Lunch: Salmon fillet, roast chicken, cashew slaw and a Caprese salad with mozzarella (I'll explain)
Dinner: Vegan burgers at home with a few beers
I woke up pretty hungry today. I'm wondering if cutting out protein is making me feel slightly famished. My toast was delicious though - the best breakfast by far this week. Then lunch happened: I went to a function and felt awkward asking for a vegan option. No one else had dietary requirements, so I decided to not make a fuss. Instead, I pigged out on three types of meat and cheese. Naughty me. I felt a bit sick, but had no regrets. My boyfriend made beef burgers for dinner with friends - they smelled so yum. I felt sad watching them chow down on a fatty prime beef burger with melted cheese while I ate my chickpea and cauliflower burger in a lettuce leaf.
The verdict: Although I cheated at lunch, I felt okay about today.
Breakfast: Vegan Vogels, avocado, salt and pepper
Snack: Avocado sushi ball
Lunch: Leftover vegan burger
Dinner: Chinese feast
While I'm absolutely loving this avocado on toast, I'm even hungrier than normal today. By mid-morning I've decided I need a double serve of avocado and buy a sushi ball. I may have been on track for lunch but dinner was a blow-out: My grandfather was visiting and he really wanted to try Peking duck from our favourite Chinese restaurant. So I ate duck with him - and snuck in a few prawns. No regrets, I felt fuller than I normally would. I did some research and learned this is to be expected: According to the Canadian Society of Intestinal Research, fats from meat can slow the digestive process, making you feel fuller faster.
The verdict: Social dining is my undoing.
Breakfast: Porridge with berries
Lunch: Masala chickpea patty pesto salad
Dinner: Vegan pappardelle, pulled "pork" jackfruit, fresh basil
Compared to Monday, I'm not craving sugar or meat so much. I think I'm getting used to this. I stick to my vegan lunch, encouraged by a carnivorous colleague who tells me he loves vegan patties and is "making the same for dinner". For my last supper a few friends and I make pappardelle with jackfruit. It's my favourite vegan meal of the week and I decide to toast to my efforts with a red wine, or two.
Overall, it was a good experience. I was more conscious of what was in my meals and I felt good seeking out meat or protein alternatives. I didn't note any drastic changes to my weight or energy levels and my cravings settled as the week went on. I felt "healthier", perhaps because I had to focus meals around vegetables, rather than treat them as an accompaniment to meat. I'd try this again – maybe even for a month next time.