Gracie Taylor trades fried eggs and beef burgers for zoodles, avocado and jackfruit.

Gracie Taylor loves to start her day by frying two eggs with sriracha. But not this week. Photo / Supplied
Gracie Taylor loves to start her day by frying two eggs with sriracha. But not this week. Photo / Supplied

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.

MONDAY

Breakfast:

Whole oats in water, freeze-dried raspberries

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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.

I added heaps of fresh parsley and a side of avocado to my dinner. Photo / Supplied
I added heaps of fresh parsley and a side of avocado to my dinner. Photo / Supplied

TUESDAY

Breakfast

: Whole oats in water, fresh raspberries

Lunch:

Hummus sandwich with cucumber, red onion, tomato

Snack:

Nuts

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.

My hummus sandwich was a soggy mess. Photo / Supplied
My hummus sandwich was a soggy mess. Photo / Supplied

WEDNESDAY

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.

THURSDAY

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.

FRIDAY

My oats with berries were filling but I missed my eggs. Photo / Supplied
My oats with berries were filling but I missed my eggs. Photo / Supplied

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.

This parpardelle with jackfruit was the winner of the week. Photo / Supplied
This parpardelle with jackfruit was the winner of the week. Photo / Supplied

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.