Our Vegan Eating Experience
There’s no better way to understand something fully than to do it first-hand! Last week Kim Gascoigne, Hospitality Services Marketing Manager, and I decided to eat vegan around campus for a week. I know right? Full-fledged meat eaters giving it all up in the name of experience. This decision was not made without careful consideration. There were several reasons behind our decision to go vegan.
1. We wanted to see campus through the eyes of our vegan students. We set out to look at our labeling and menu offerings.
2. We wanted to support the Queen’s Vegan Pledge who we had partnered with this year. What better way to show our support than diving right in!
After 5 days of eating strictly vegan on campus, here is what we learned:
To help our planning process, Kim and I armed ourselves with the list of vegan items across campus found on the hospitality website. This list was a life saver since it made choosing items a whole lot easier (Find your copy here)!
Do Your Research
Knowledge is power! Do some research before you start to make the transition easier.
First, know which basic sauces and condiments are vegan friendly. This will empower you instead of leaving you feeling helpless and frustrated. There is nothing worse than feeling this way when you are hungry (or should we call it Hangry?).
Second, know which essential nutrients can be lacking from a vegan diet and where to find alternate sources. It takes planning and research to ensure you have a balanced and optimal diet. I talk about this further here.
If you are unsure you can eat something, just ask our staff! We asked more than once if sauces or breads were vegan. If that person didn’t know the answer, they went looking for one. Salad dressings and breads were the hardest to figure out while eating vegan.
Bonus: when we told the staff at Ban Righ we were eating vegan, they surprised us with vegan muffins we knew nothing about!
Do it with a friend! We experienced five days as vegans with several highs and lows in that short period of time. We were excited by some items that we could eat, and disappointed by some we couldn’t. It was so helpful having a friend who was going through the same thing.
Small, Sustainable Changes
Kim and I quickly learned how restrictive the vegan diet is. We often felt overwhelmed with making choices while seeing other food that was “off-limits”. Saying you can’t have something makes you want it more! When your diet becomes too restrictive it can change your relationship with food.
My biggest dietitian recommendation: make SLOW changes. Little tweaks like switching regular milk for soy milk and animal protein for plant-protein would be a good place to start. These small changes will lead to greater success and maintain your healthy relationship with food. Check out my blog on developing SMART goals here.
Eating vegan across campus allowed Kim and I to see first-hand where signage was lacking for our vegan students. The Queen’s Vegan Pledge signs helped a lot, but some signage was still missing. As we noticed gaps, the marketing ladies quickly made updates. Did you notice more vegan symbols popping up around campus?
Day 1: Lazy Scholar
Jessica: Wholly Habinaro bowl with black beans, brown rice, grilled vegetables, lettuce, tomato, salsa and cilantro + tea with soy milk = TAM
Kim: 6 inch hummus sub from the SubHub
Day 2: Location 21
Jessica: ½ hummus sandwich, butternut squash soup and coffee = TAM
Kim: Custom Made hummus sandwich on vegan bread with water
Day 3: Leonard
Jessica and Kim: Tofu vegan option, salad with chickpeas, vegan pizza Wednesday.
Day 4: Ban Righ
Jessica: Vegan Entrée of marinated tofu and grilled veg + Simple servings brown rice and carrots. Three of us shared the blueberry vegan muffin for dessert and it was delicious! Kim: vegan hummus sandwich & tofu.
Day 5: Canadian Grilling Company
Jessica: Full size salad with black bean patty and balsamic vinaigrette. Kim: vegan black bean pattie on a lettuce wrap with fries!