The Vegan Omnivore: week 3

by Denis Wong

Stop the presses: I successfully completed the 21-day Vegan Challenge! For three weeks, I managed to leave animal products out of my diet. I was anticipating difficulties, and of course there were obstacles. But through it all, I’ve become aware of the possibilities that exist when you’re vegan.  

Last Monday, for example, I spent the day in Saint-Tite as part of a report. Saint-Tite is not exactly the epicenter of veganism. At least, that was the narrow view I held, being the city dweller that I am. I thought I would have to fast, so I brought a large bag of almonds to tide me over.

In the end I did manage to eat a vegan meal, and a very good one at that! La Vieille Banque is a small restaurant offering a classic bistro menu. With help from the friendly owner, I was able to put together a lunch that respected my diet:

- A panini with basil pesto and tomatoes
- Corn chips with salsa and guacamole
- A garden salad with plenty of fresh ingredients

Saint-Tite

That day, I discovered that people in the restaurant business are willing to make concrete efforts to respect my dietary restrictions. I applied this knowledge throughout my challenge, whether I found myself in a sports tavern or a chic vegetarian restaurant.

Listening to my body

After three weeks as a vegan, my body has begun to speak to me, and I’ve adopted a few strategies in response.

I get hungry more often now, so I’ve added an extra snack to my day. As a rule, I eat on four separate occasions throughout the day. Is my body missing something? Do I have to find alternatives to replace the foods I ate before?

It is difficult to say with much accuracy after only three weeks and without being a nutritionist. But the really great part of this change has been the integration of more fruits and vegetables into my diet. This was a personal goal that I had set for myself for 2017, before even knowing exactly what veganism was.

And now?

To come full circle, I redid the same exercise I completed three weeks ago. I gathered together the most representative elements of my vegan diet in order to analyze them. Throughout this challenge, my diet seems to have been based on: starches (rice, pasta, quinoa), legumes (soybeans, beans, chickpeas), fruits, vegetables, and nuts.

In this photo: our Annapurna trail mix.

Honestly, I don’t think I'm going to become a full-time vegan tomorrow. It’s even possible that my next batch of groceries will be bacon-only. Except that 100% vegan food is also likely to integrate my diet for good. Almond milk in smoothies. Tofu and beans to reduce my consumption of meat. More fruits, vegetables and nuts to add variety to my diet.

This experience has introduced me to a lot of food alternatives and I will certainly be more aware of what is on my plate from now on. I was already tuned in to the environmental footprint of my food choices. This adventure has allowed me to deepen my reflection and my personal journey.

Needless to say, I’m quite proud to have met this challenge. The journey was very interesting from every perspective. Although this experience has been complicated at times, it has mostly been punctuated by surprising and enriching discoveries. Thank you all for following my vegan adventures!

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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