Every year, I do try to make it a point where I challenge myself and totally cut out my meat eating ways and go entirely vegan. I started this habit a long time ago and I’ve been doing it for almost a whole decade by now. This year was not different but, for some reason, I wasn’t feeling all that enthused this year. I do love testing myself, finding ways to get a good amount of all the essential macro nutrients, basically your proteins, carbohydrates and fats, by just eating plant-based foods and this year was no different.
What was lacking this year was the creativity aspect. I just wasn’t feeling the excitement of thinking of really inventive with my meals. This is why, when I did go shopping for supplies, I just went with a few mainstays that I usually went with during the past years of being vegan. I got the usual textured vegetable protein, pasta noodles, bean soup, vegan soup bouillon, tofu, soy milk, rolled oats and canned beans. The only real thing I did experiment with this year was using dried mushrooms for the liquid to rehydrate my textured vegetable protein. I got the idea from watching Adam Ragusea, a food YouTuber, a while ago. If you’re interested in cooking, I do suggest watching his channel. There’s a lot I’ve learned about preparing simplistic meals from watching Adam Ragusea’s channel so I bet you’d too.
Anyway, I stocked up for the upcoming week. In fact, I actually bought most of the stuff I needed an entire month. That’s because a lot of the stuff I did get weren’t immediately perishable. Things like pasta, the textured vegetable protein, bean soup, vegan bouillon, rolled oats and canned beans don’t exactly expire quickly, which did turn out to be a slight mistake and I’ll get to that later. Since I’ve been working out a whole lot more, I also added more soy milk and a vegan protein powder to my essentials this year. The only thing I really needed to buy that was relatively fresh were the tofu and the dried mushrooms. The latter doesn’t spoil easily either. But I just wanted to buy a cheap bag of the stuff and I wasn’t able to do that earlier.
The week before my scheduled time to be vegan, I still wasn’t all that eager to start preparing all my meals. Like I said, I wasn’t feeling all that creative this time around. Maybe it’s the thought of it becoming a little bit rote since I’ve been doing it for almost a decade by now. I still had to fill in some of the meals during the first couple of days. So I decided to lame it out and actually go to Burger King. Yes, Burger King, the store that’s known for it’s burgers! But I do know they have a Plant Based Whopper because I’ve already tried it last year! Besides the Plant Based Whopper, Burger King apparently came out with a “chicken” version that’s also vegan. I decided to get both of them to knock out two of the meals.
Unfortunately, this was almost a mistake on my part. Although Burger King’s Plant Based Whopper and the chicken variety didn’t use meat and, since there isn’t cheese either, I thought it was pure vegan. What I didn’t take into consideration is they put mayonnaise on them both! It wasn’t a total waste as I had to kind of wipe off the mayo and even wash the lettuce to keep with the entire vegan situation. Not a really pleasant experience as it did get messy. Mental note for next year: make sure to tell them not to add mayo. Still, these two sandwiches became my technical dinners or, more precisely, the meals I would eat after my workout, for the first two nights.
Anyway, making breakfast for the entire week was a very simple affair. Each morning, I would make myself a half cup of rolled oats, mix it with around a cup and a half of water, put everything on the stove and voila! Rolled oats oatmeal. Definitely not the most glamorous foods but it does get the job done. I would slice up a banana or add actual sugar to make it a little more palatable. I knew that wasn’t going to be enough protein so I would take my breakfast with a vegan protein powder shake with soy milk. I will say that vegan protein powder does take getting used to if you’re used to drinking “regular” flavored whey protein. The package may say it tastes like chocolate fudge but you can definitely taste the difference.
For lunch and the rest of my dinners, this is where I did try using the dried mushrooms. I would put several in some hot water for them to rehydrate. I’ll then chop up the mushrooms and then use the mushroom liquid for a couple of uses. One batch I used to rehydrate the textured vegetable protein and then used the rehydrated TVP to make vegan chili. I made a couple of varieties this year; I said I was creatively lazy but that didn’t mean I wasn’t calculating. The first one was your standard version and I’ve made it last year while being vegan while experiencing a gout flareup. I did add some of the rehydrated dried mushrooms this time around. This is a go-to vegan meal for me as it does taste good and I don’t actually get tired of eating it, even if I do wind up making it every year. The mushrooms didn’t really add much to the experience but it did add some chewy texture. The second had more of an Italian twist to it as I didn’t use cumin but actually added some of the chopped mushrooms and a healthy glug of some cheap red wine. This was good as the wine gave it a more distinct flavor but it was a little too sweet for me.
The second use I had for the mushroom water was to use it to cook rice. I also added a can of black beans and a few spices as well to really spruce up what would usually be plain rice. For the “meat” part, I basically made a mushroom and tofu stir-fry with some soy sauce. This was really good and I did find myself really looking forward to eating it at night. Maybe it was a touch too salty because I added too much soy sauce, though. I do wish my creativity wasn’t at such a low level now because, thinking about it now, I do wish I added something like green beans to the mushroom and tofu stir-fry to liven things up. It may taste good but it does look incredibly boring.
I did mention one mistake earlier and, oddly enough, it was my buying the pasta a month earlier. I bought some really fancy pasta from a wholefoods store because I was feeling a little fancy at that time. Little did I know that bugs would grow out of them! I can’t really say I stored them improperly because the box remained unopened until I needed it! Maybe it’s because I live in a humid country like the Philippines and that’s why the creatures started maturing? Whatever the case, I didn’t want the pasta to go to waste and I had to clear it out of the bugs and also check every single pasta strand for spoilage before I cooked a good batch of it and used it with the aforementioned Italian version of the vegan chili. So, mental note for next year again: only buy pasta that’s in a sealed bag because the cardboard packaged versions can get bugs!
Anyway, I will say this year of me being a vegan for a week was a relative success but kind of boring. I guess being a vegan for a week is still fun but a lot of the enjoyment I do get from it is the challenge of actually going through with it. Hopefully I can reattain the fire I had with this when I started it out all those years ago. Because I know I’ll be doing this all over again next year.
Have you tried veganism, even for a little while? What was your experience like? Let me know in the comments section below.