I like to eat animals. That isn’t meant to be pompous and it’s not meant to be a political statement, it’s just a fact. Veganism always struck me as a sort of self-chastisement; another well-meaning, poorly-conceived form of liberal guilt. The world is cruel and your kale won’t save it.
That being said, I believe our extraordinary means gives us the chance to reduce both our environmental impact and the amount of animal suffering necessary for our enrichment. And so, I’ve decided to eat vegan for a week to understand the lifestyle, choices and challenges of people who think differently than I do.
- Fish is bad
- Poultry is worse
- Red meat is the devil
- Say goodbye to milk, cheese and other dairy
- No eggs
- No honey or royal jelly
- Breads, pastas or other processed foods can’t contain any animal products
- Nothing can use animal-derived products in any way
There are a few places where my experiment differs from true veganism. First, if a food happens to be processed in a facility with animal products, I’ll still eat it (given that it isn’t part of the ingredients). Second, vegans tend to avoid products with refined sugar and palm oil for certain reasons. I’m not worrying about that. Lastly, I’ll also continue to tie my leather shoes, buckle my leather belt and bind my leather watch strap to my wrist.
Day 1 – Monday
I immediately ran into problems. Breakfast was going to be sourdough toast with refried beans and avocado, but when I examined my can of Old El Paso beans, it turns out that they’re cooked with 2 types of lard. It was back to the drawing board. With nothing substantial in the apartment because we hadn’t yet done our shopping for the week, I elected to wait until 11am and grab an early lunch from Clover Food Labs.
The interior of Clover was clean and minimal. After the cashier assured me that the Chickpea Fritter (read: falafel) Sandwich was vegan, I ordered that and a cup of Chinese oolong tea and people watched while I waited. Clover attracted the crowd you’d expect. Lots of late twenties, early thirties professionals peppered with occasional older folks. It aims squarely in the middle of the Boston professional scene.
Now for the food. The sandwich was delicious and a very filling lunch portion for $8, around the same as a typical Boston food truck lunch. As an Oolong fan, I enjoyed the tea, but for $3.50 I’d skip it unless I had a craving. Final Verdict: Clover is a solid vegetarian/vegan spot.
At 2pm, I forced myself to down a peanut butter and jelly sandwich so I’d have enough calories for the day. Within the past two months I’ve shifted from Skippy Chunky to the locally made Teddie brand. Less sugar, no salt and no hydrogenated oils. The Teddie factory is right across the street from Night Shift Brewing in Everett, MA, where you can smell the delicious child-endangering peanut butter wafting as you sip a glass of Santilli. If you like peanut butter, I suggest making the switch.
For dinner, I recreated the beans from a Blue Apron recipe based on Brooke Williamson’s Top Chef winning dish from Season 14. I mixed that with brown rice and mashed avocado for a quick, tasty meal using ingredients we had on hand.
After dinner, we went to Whole Foods to stock up for the week. The combination of unusual speciality ingredients, massive amounts of fresh produce and Whole Foods’ general expensiveness led to a food tab 20-30% more expensive than what’s typical for a full week of meals. Turns out being vegan takes dedication in more ways than one.
I’ll leave you with these images of an $8 carton of VeganEggs™ (equivalent of 10-12 real eggs).
Food always seems more appetizing when it comes with “tips.”