Photo: flickr/Tom Gill

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Ah, the Vegan Challenge. I think rabble has well-documented my massive failures (and gripes) with this challenge. But, since I generally feel better when I don’t eat mounds of crap, and have been eating less meat and more veggies anyway, I thought “why not participate in the Vegan Challenge this year!”

Here are a few thoughts that ran through my head immediately after joining:

1. The bar is set incredibly low for you. Two years ago you drank milk on the first day, ate a cheeseburger on the second day and then promptly gave up. You cannot do worse.

2. Force Kevin (my fella) to join you. He has discipline (and will make dinner at least once).

3. You don’t eat meat throughout the week. All you need to get rid of is cheese. And milk. And cream. Oh gawd…

4. You have friends in town Wednesday night. Just make it to Wednesday.

Apparently I like failure. On Thursday, I baked a batch of my delicious chocolate chip cookies and on Saturday night, amidst a frenzied spring cleaning, ordered and ate Chinese food. Thus, the challenge began on Sunday with a rock of Chinese food in my stomach, a batch of cookies in the freezer and milk, cream and cheese haunting me in the fridge.

Day one: Sunday April 13

I’m going to shield you from most of what I ate today. Mostly out of embarrassment for myself, but another part to save you from the horror that was my Sunday afternoon food consumption. All I will say about food consumed prior to 7:30 p.m. is “homemade pies” and “diner food.” I regret nothing.

However, in the true spirit of the Vegan Challenge this year, I have actually decided to try. A concept lost on me in previous years.

We lucked out because our neighbourhood bar was hosting their weekend “food court” and the food stand was selling tempeh. So, we bought, what I like to think of is, a brick of tempeh.

Several garlic cloves, brussel sprouts, rice, spices and tempeh later, we had a pretty good dinner! When I looked at it, it looked like sausage and rice with brussel sprouts. When I ate it, it did not taste like that. It wasn’t terrible though — even pretty good! A little too much oil, but we have a whole ‘nother half brick to perfect that.

Also, Kevin forced a glass of almond milk on me, which he finds “delicious!” and “tastes just like real milk!” whereas I think it tastes like watery “milk” made from almonds.

Cookies consumed: two

Day two: Monday April 14

Oh. Tempeh doesn’t make me feel amazing.

In lieu of cereal, fresh fruit for breakfast it is!

And okay. I had to eat the leftover Chinese food for lunch or else it would have gone bad in the fridge. And, I swear, that piece of licorice fell into my mouth.

kiwi. apples. hummus. green peppers. black coffee. spinach. carrots. green beans. chickpeas. garlic. lemon. olive oil. cucumbers and I’m out!

Cookies consumed: one

Day three: Tuesday April 15

You know. Vegan Challenge this year hasn’t been that bad (she said having already brutally failed). Cutting meat out of my diet is not such a big deal. I tend not to eat meat throughout the week anyhow. But not eating dairy is awful. No cheese? No milk? No way!

Okay fine. I put cream in my coffee this morning. And cheese in my black bean quesadilla (Kevin made another tempeh dish, but the stabbing pain in stomach told me to eat something else for dinner). But my other eats were dairy free! Also, I think I am confusing “eating vegan” with “eating only raw vegetables.” After asking for all those vegan recipes (thank you!), I have yet to utlize one. I guess we made a tempeh recipe, but the tempeh morning after is something I prefer to block out.

The thought “why did I even bother doing this challenge, I’m failing so miserably” keeps running through my head.

Cookies consumed: one

Day four: Wednesday April 16

It’s my “last day,” which was supposed to be a treat for doing so well, but as we can see, I, again, barely made it out the gates. But, all jokes aside about my eating habits and constant failures at the Vegan Challenge to say: I just don’t think eating vegan is for me.

There are lots of reasons why, many documented by participants and my colleagues, but mostly, I don’t believe in the concept. In theory, I’m all for trying new things and my lack of effort should not be misconstrued as apathy or bragging about how much crap I eat. And, there are parameters to the sentence I’m about to write, but, I don’t believe eating meat and animal products is bad.

When I do think something is “bad,” I don’t eat it. I, surprisingly, have some control. However, to clarify, none of these statements are said in judgement of people who are vegan or people who aren’t vegan. 

So, I don’t think anyone is surprised by my failures especially given that I started this challenge with “but cream in my coffee doesn’t count, right?” The Vegan Challenge does make me think about my food consumption and I appreciate that and will continue to incorporate some of its principles into my diet.

Will I ever give up cheese, meat and milk? No. Do I want to? No.

Will I continue to moderate my meat intake (and weird processed food intake)? Yes!

Will I ever eat tempeh again? Doubtful.

Cookies consumed: none

Kaitlin McNabb is rabble’s news and books coordinator, and yes, her fella is generally concerned for her health because of how many cookies and how much candy she eats. She frequently tweets at @kaitlinmcnabb

Photo: flickr/Tom Gill