The Vegan Omnivore: week 1

by Denis Wong
Our blogger Denis Wong has been 100% vegan for a week now. Here are his impressions on everything from the first cup of coffee to the first trip to the grocery store.

Be well-prepared

Here I am, both feet firmly planted in this vegan challenge. I'm still alive after the first week, which is great news! Jokes aside, I took this challenge seriously and quickly realized that the key to success is preparation.

My pre-challenge grocery shopping allowed me to easily replace certain elements of my regular diet. Goodbye 2% milk and pork chops, hello coconut milk and minced imitation meat. I was a little shaken to learn that there are dairy products in certain chip flavours... I almost lost my cool and started crying on the floor of the grocery store. Then, my girlfriend informed me that beer is generally vegan. I pulled myself together and proceeded to the checkout.

Garde-mangerIn this photo: our Medjool dates and grated coconut.

I noticed that my grocery bill was lower than I’d expected. Had I bought less food than usual, quantity-wise? Are vegan products fundamentally more affordable? I’ll have to keep track over a longer period of time to be clear on this. One thing’s for certain: for the first time, I scratched habitually expensive items off my grocery list (milk, organic eggs and meat), and my wallet felt the difference.

The first sip, and a new world of flavours

I have to talk about it. The very first thing I consumed as part of my vegan challenge was the coffee I drank last Monday morning. In addition to a dose of the unknown, I added foamed coconut milk. I must confess I didn’t notice any major difference. Of course, the bold, buttery quality of regular foamed milk was less present, but my coffee was just as good.

This first beverage started the ball rolling on a week of amazing new flavours. My girlfriend and I had gathered a list of recipes that we wanted to try together and we cooked all week long. My absolute favourites from this first batch include:

- Vegetable chili with legumes and minced imitation meat 
- Pasta with Alfredo sauce made from cauliflower
- A dragon bowl with sautéed vegetables and tofu marinated in maple syrup (PRANA suggestion: try this version with tempeh!)

I was already eating several of the foods included in these recipes, but I had never combined them in this way. My palate was very satisfied and pleasantly surprised too. I thought of adding meat to some dishes, but I think it's just a natural instinct of mine, having consuming it all my life. Ultimately, I forgot pretty quickly that I was eating a vegan meal most of the time.

Resources all around you

Spending more time cooking helped me avoid quick fixes like frozen meals or take-out. It also made me discover local shops that I didn’t even know existed. As I walked along Wellington Street in Verdun, I found excellent local resources that had a ton of things to offer from a vegan perspective, all located in the same area. I now realize that there are many more vegan options at my disposal than I had originally imagined. Finding the means to meet this challenge is easier than one might think!

Omnivore végane - semaine 1

Denis will keep us updated with his impressions on the 21-day vegan challenge every week until January 29th. Follow his adventures on PRANA's blog, Instagram and Facebook.
Denis Wong
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Denis Wong

A wise man once said that it's never over until it's over, and Denis tends to agree. He's a true sports maniac who gives it all, whether he is on a tennis court, a hockey rink, or trekking a mountain. Journalist and photographer, he lends his pen and his lenses to Prana's blog.

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