If Beyonce is Vegan, So Am I: My Weeklong Vegan Diet Challenge
If you’ve been living under a rock for the last two weeks, you might have missed the big news that Beyonce is vegan now. Or that she went on a vegan diet designed by her trainer. Or that she consumes a mostly ‘plant based’ diet, but still eats meat. There’s a little bit of confusion over the actual nomenclature, but the general consensus is that Beyonce is eating a shitload of kale right now, and she looksamazing.
onMay 20, 2015 at 12:22pm PDT
I, on the other hand, could stand to look a little more amazing. After moving to New York three months ago, the stress of adapting to a new city and a brand new job have really taken a toll on my eating habits. Goodbye, healthy fresh sliced fruit breakfasts—hello, bolting down coffee as I run to the subway.
The results have been effing with my vanity: my complexion hasn’t been looking its best and I’ve been feeling sluggish andblah. So if Beyonce tells me that veganism is the key to luminous skin and having enough energy for world tours, dropping secret albums and naked dresses, I’m sure as hell going to go vegan.
This is the story of my week of veganism. If Beyonce can do it for 22 days, I can make it seven.
Because I’m not the first young woman in media to consider going vegan, I decide to follow the Sakara Life plan to get me started. Easily the most chic raw vegan diet going right now, Sakara will deliver fresh, healthy food to your home three times a day. There’s no crazy cooking or mandatory workout routines; all you have to do is eat and (hopefully) reap the rewards. They’ll deliver me three meals a day for three days, then I am on my vegan own.
I pray to Beysus for strength as I begin my week.
My first day on the wagon, a big bag of food is delivered to my office. My breakfast turns out to be a delicious roobois fig bar, which tastes like a less sugary Fig Newton. I wash it down with the Sakara Morning Water, which is meant to jumpstart my metabolism, but tastes like rose perfume. I get through the bottle by thinking of Beyonce, which is how I get through most things that I don’t like.
Lunch is rosemary roasted root veggies with creamy horseradish dressing, which islegit as hell. I’m not usually a dressing person, but I empty the entire thing all over my salad and inhale it. I am sad when it’s gone.
Dinner is Sakara-style chili with cornbread. The chili has seaweed in it, and it is delicious. The corn bread has a cake-like consistency; my co-workers all come and snag little bites. We agree it is delightful.
I go home and sip my Night Water, which is bright green and slightly alarming to look at. It has a pleasant flavor that I get used to very quickly. I go to sleep, reflecting on the fact that I haven’t felt hungry all day.
A day in my vegan life: Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Photos by Alle Connell.
I wake up tired. According to the detox-fiends in my life, this is because my body is cleansing itself, but I think it’s because I ate 600 calories yesterday. The morning water went down a little easier, which is nice, but I still can’t get over the rose taste.
I tell my editor that, per the cleanse instructions, I’m meant to eat my breakfast (coconut granola with green Spirulina “mylk”) without looking at my email. She looks panicked. When I see my inbox, I understand why. I make a good faith effort.
My lunch—a “burger” with chili cashew cream and coconut “bacon” is amazing. I tell my editor that, per Sakara’s instructions, I was meant to “step out of the office, get some fresh air and take some time for food and myself.”
“Didn’t you have lunch huddled at the end of a table in the photo studio?” she asks.
I admit that I did.
“You’re not doing very well at this.”
Dinner is eat-the-rainbow sushi, which I was really excited about. It’s fine, but not as triumphant as my delicious lunch. I eat it because I’m hungry, then eat a scone because I’m still hungry. Hey, food accidents happen.
I wake up and literally pound the morning water. It goes down better when you can’t taste it and you’re still too tired to think about it.
Breakfast is a Matcha tea cake, which is delicious and dense. It is my favorite breakfast so far.
My matcha tea cake and Morning Water, the best breakfast I had all week. Photo: Alle Connell.
Lunch is a kale and cauliflower Caesar salad, which is delightful. I eat it hiding behind the seamless in our photo studio. It’s not quite going outside, but I think it qualifies as taking time for myself.
Dinner is mung bean pasta with arugula and hemp seed pesto, and it looks pretty gross but tastes fantastic. I eat it before going to meet my friends at a taco place, and am full enough that I don’t screw up my veganism at the last hurdle by shovelling a pile of nachos into my food-hole. I take this opportunity to sanctimoniously tell everyone how well I’m doing on my cleanse, instantly becoming a New York cliché.
I drink my green water right before bed and am out like a light. Does this water help you sleep better? I think that it might.
Today was my last day of Sakara meals. Tomorrow I am on my own for food. Saint Beyonce, be my sword and my shield as I venture into the vegan wilds unaccompanied.
I wake up cranky because I know I’m not going to get my meals delivered today. My breakfast is an avocado eaten with a spoon. It’s delicious, but not Sakara coconut granola delicious. I put coconut milk in my coffee to compensate; being a posh vegan has really reminded me how much I love coconut.
My lunch is a jostled spinach and kale salad that I made at home the night before. My kale is tough and hurts my throat as I eat it. My colleague tries to tell me that one needs to “massage” kale to make it edible; I decide that is far too much effort to put into a leaf.
When I get home, I’m exhausted and frazzled and not at all emotionally prepared to cook an entire vegan meal. Instead I eat peppers, onions, carrot and celery sautéed lightly with garlic and olive oil. It is delicious but I eat this all the time, so it’s also a little boring. Damn you Sakara, for raising my food standards so high!
I fall asleep, concerned that I might vegan-starve to death on Friday.
I attend a breakfast event and prepare myself to say “no” to everything except fruit. I shouldn’t have worried; all the food is vegan and super-delicious. I eat chia pudding and am very happy.
I skip lunch because work is busy. Later in the day I regret this choice and ask myself “What Would Beyonce Do?” I decide that the answer to that is buying a seaweed salad from the deli down the street. It is both not very good and definitely not what Beyonce would have done.
I cancel a date because the dude is making fun of my Beyonce-inspired veganism, and I am not into it. So instead of going out to eat—which would have actually been kind of hard, even in Brooklyn—I chop up a bunch of vegetables and eat them with a tub of vegan hummus while sitting on my couch, watchingPretty Little Liars.
MORE: 7 Ways to Make Snacks Healthier.
I fully intend to remain a vegan through Sunday, but then brunch happens and I eat a bunch of eggs. Oh well, I think as I abandon the vegan ship at 11am on Saturday. At least I’m still putting coconut milk in my coffee.
Beyonce has claimed that her vegan diet is responsible for how great she looks and feels. Though we followed different plans (and she stuck to hers for 22 days), I still compared my results to hers.
After my almost-week vegan cleansing, my skin is exactly the same as it was when I started. It’s no brighter or clearer, and has not reached Beysus levels of amazingness. But my skin is already pretty nice, so that could be a moot point.
I did not lose any weight, or if I did, it was a negligible amount. I’m not sure how to gauge whether I shed toxins—I assume my liver and kidneys are still taking care of that—but I feel exactly the same as I did before. Just a little hungrier.
My main takeaway was that being vegan is totally possible, even for me. I didn’t have to alter my life all that much to totally exclude animal products from my diet.
However, eating WELL as a vegan is incredibly expensive and time-consuming. Though the food is really good, Sakara’s cleanse is not exactly cheap, and my grocery bill for the four days I prepared my own vegan meals was three times what it usually costs to feed myself for the week. This diet might be ‘ethical,’ but it’s definitely not accessible for a lot of people.
I did learn some valuable lessons from trying to be a Beyonce-level vegan for a week, though.
The first is that even though my normal diet is like 80% good, that remaining 20% could be a lot better. I often don’t make great food choices when I’m stressed and forced to rely on our office kitchen to keep me fed. I now keep almonds in my desk so that I can snack and not accidentally consume two thousand empty calories.
I learned that I don’t really like cooking elaborate things for myself when I get home at 8 or 9 at night. Sakara is brilliant because it’s all delivered—I kind of wish I could have this every day of my life, because #lazy.
I also learned that there’s a lot out there besides baby spinach for delicious salads. Embracing new things is the best—and though it may not give you totally perfect skin immediately, trying new foods is only ever good in the long run.
I may never be a full-time vegan, nor (to my great shame) will I ever be Beyonce. But this challenge was definitely the wellness reality-check that I needed.
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