En Route - We Went Vegan For A Week And We Have Some Thoughts

We Went Vegan For A Week And We Have Some Thoughts

Not as cheesy as it sounds

Veganism once felt like a dirty word to me (Dani – En-Route Editor) and it always seemed to evoke a ‘Regular People’ vs. ‘The Vegans’ mentality and if you had of asked me 12-months ago I would have told you there was not a chance I was going to be vegan as I basically exist on variations of cheeses, pastries and eggs. For many years I have been a pescatarian and years before that was a vegetarian so a week of vegan meals wasn’t a huge stretch for me, but it still raised a lot of questions like, will I be hungry all the time? Can I function without cheese?

On the other hand, (Jo – En-Route’s Lifestyle Editor) I am a full-blown carnivore and have a dining out obsession with 80% of my meals being eaten at a restaurant or cafe. Even though l always try to opt for healthy options when dining out, I couldn’t help but include animal-based protein when given the opportunity. I put this down to being a 90’s child raised in the Adelaide Hills where meat and three veg was the weekly staple. 

So together, we tried our hand at a vegan diet with a little help from Soulara which describe themselves as “100% natural, chef-crafted meals made from the highest quality ingredients & superfoods, designed to help you live your best life!”

We figure this was an easy way to dip our toe into the vegan meal pool. Read on to see how we faired as vegans for a week. 

DAY 1: MONDAY

Morning

Jo
After quite a boozey, carb-fulled weekend down in Melbourne, I arrived late in Sydney on Sunday ready to hibernate for 48 hours, so Monday started slow for me to say the least. I woke up and crawled my way to the kettle for a black coffee even though all I really wanted was a bacon and egg roll to fix all my misgivings from the weekend prior.

On the menu and meal No.1 was the Sunbliss Granola Bowl: a super seed granola blend + goji berries with blue spirulina almond milk and surprisingly it did the job.

Dani
I kicked off the week with the Sunbliss Granola Bowl. I thought this was the best way to ease into my new found veganism and I’ll be honest, I very much dislike yoghurt and milk (the dairy kinds anyway) because I grew up on a dairy farm and I’ve seen where that comes from and it’s a hard pass from me ever since. So I was keen for an excuse to try a non-dairy option with granola. It was super filling for a small serving, but I was totally satisfied. 

Morning Snack

Jo
Having quite a late breakfast and a few black coffees, I found myself not craving or needing a snack, it was lunchtime before I knew it. 

Dani 
I love myself a snack and being the first day of eating vegan I felt I was hungry more than usual, but I think that was because I was more focused on when my next meal was going to be. I dived into the Salted Caramel Dreams Bliss Balls. Even if I needed it or not, I thought it was delicious and would happily eat this any day, vegan or otherwise. 

Afternoon

Jo
3 coffees later, it was 1:30 pm and I was hungry. Luckily, I had a week’s worth of food in the fridge so I felt spoiled for choice; exactly what is required in the midst of a hangover. It was meal No.2 Singapore Spirit Noodles that caught my eye, two minutes in the microwave and an empty bowl not long after I was completely satisfied. 

Dani
This was my most exciting meal of the day which was Jalapeño Mac & Cheeze and let me tell you it was MINDBLOWING. The ingredients are nothing particularly special being your humble penne pasta + broccoli + jalapeno + nutritional yeast, but this is my type of food so I was excited and I loved it (can you tell?)

Afternoon Snack

Jo
I well and truly felt the 3 pm energy slump, although it was probably more to do with my past weekend in Melbourne. Reaching for the fridge I went straight for my first snack of the week being the Salted Caramel Dreams and after the first bite, I knew I was in for a treat. 

Dani 
I skipped my snack for the afternoon as I felt full, energetic and not my normal 3 pm sluggish self. Strange, but maybe I was just overthinking the positive impact of a vegan diet. 

Evening

Jo 
Dinner couldn’t come around any sooner, I pulled out meal No.3 Juan’s Mexican Red Bean & Rice. I had high expectations after lunch, and after a bite, I knew this wasn’t my sort of dish, it was however incredibly filling. After dinner I sipped on tea, knowing that after a good night’s sleep, I’d be back to normal programming tomorrow. 

Dani 
What a surprise I too went for the Juan’s Mexican Red Bean & Rice and again I was super impressed. This was 100% delicious and you’d never know it was even vegan except for my undying need to add grated cheese to almost everything. 

DAY 2: TUESDAY

Breakfast 

Jo
Meal No.4 was Breakfast, the Ruby Sunrise Chia Pudding. I am going to be honest, here, Chia Pudding has never done it for me, it’s the consistency that I am hung up on. However, I was pleasantly surprised as I quite enjoyed it and finished the meal with my morning coffee feeling totally satisfied. 

Dani
I share the same sentiment as Jo, I too started my day with the Ruby Sunrise Chia Pudding . I’ve never been a fan of Chia Pudding because I don’t much like slippery food. I’ll be frank, I wasn’t a fan, and this is entirely due to personal preference and nothing to do with the meal quality itself. 

Lunch

Jo
Meal No.5. Today was an En-Route shoot day so Dani and I packed our meals to go which does really help you feel like you’ve already planned a huge part of your day when you don’t have to think about what you’re going to eat. 

I went for the Jalapeño Mac & Cheeze and I wasn’t a fan, to be honest! It just wasn’t for me but I put this down to personal preference and not taste quality because Dani was obsessed with it. 

Dani: My choice was the Singapore Spirit Noodles and I really rate this one. The most surprising part was that the green beans were somehow still crunchy even after being microwaved and this was one of my main concerns about eating pre-prepared meals. 

Snack

Jo & Dani
Because we were on set together today, we opted for a shared snack and indulged in the Paleo Peanut Butter Cups and you seriously can not tell these aren’t chocolate. They are delicious and the texture is similar to a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup and you feel ZERO guilt chowing these down post-lunch. 

Dinner

Jo & Dani
Post shoot, we decided as a team we wanted to eat out together, so we convinced everyone dinner needed to be at Gigi’s Pizzeria (meal No.6) and we were just around the corner in Enmore, so it was a vegan no brainer. It’s the sort of restaurant where vegans take their non-vegan friends to dinner. It’s really satisfying, and you don’t miss the meat and cheese on your pizza, leaving us all very curious as to how this is even possible. 

After-dinner drinks

Jo & Dani
5 minutes before happy hour ended we walking in a bar for one after dinner cocktail. $10 Whiskey Sours how could we say no? A few sips in, we all realised Whiskey Sour’s contain egg white! Day two and we’ve already failed!

One thing I am starting to notice is my stomach because it’s much flatter than usual and my body is seemingly processing meals much faster.

DAY 3: WEDNESDAY

Breakfast

Jo
My mornings always start with a shot of Apple Cider Vinegar mixed with hot water and lemon, followed by a black coffee and breakfast. Breakfast today was meal No.7 a Sunbliss Granola Bowl. I am usually an egg sort of girl and every morning without fail I whip up scrambled eggs, feta and spinach as muesli is never enough to satisfy me. It’s my second serving of granola for the week and surprisingly I finish feeling 100% satisfied.

SPOILER: I have converted to eating muesli for all my weekday breakfasts now!

Dani
Firstly, I woke up without an alarm (possibly for the first time ever in my life) at around 5.30 am. I felt full of energy, clear in the mind and excited to work a full day and I can only put this down to 2 days of a vegan diet as this was the only thing I had changed in my routine, it was a welcomed change of pace!! 

I had a Good Morning Matcha Bowl set aside for my breakfast and after the first few spoonfuls and one prior attempt at a matcha tea and I realise matcha just isn’t for me so I skipped breakfast today. 

Snack

Jo
I headed into the city for a morning meeting and I ate the Coco Delight Ball (yummy FYI) and I caught myself asking are soy piccolo’s vegan?! (insert face slap here) But after Tuesday nights failed cocktail order, I am questioning if everything is vegan.

Dani
No snack for me today! 

Lunch

Jo
Lunch was meal No. 8 ‘I Am Golden’ which is a creamy tofu dish. Halfway through I realized it could have been a breakfast dish as it’s almost a vegan version of scrambled eggs with mushrooms and kale. I am usually not a fussy eater, I tell people I eat everything, however, I now realise there are a few things I won’t eat… including soft tofu. It definitely must be a consistency thing. 

Dani
My lunch was the Soya, Edamame & Black Fungi Udon and maybe it’s because I often eat vegetarian that it wasn’t a difficult transition for me but I loved this meal. 

Dinner

Jo
Dinner tonight was meal No.9 Jalapeño Mac & Cheeze which isn’t my favourite, but still something I’d happily eat if on hand.

It’s just over halfway through the week, and one thing I am starting to notice is my stomach because it’s much flatter than usual and my body is seemingly processing meals much faster. 

Dani
If I was stuck on a desert island and I could only eat one thing for the rest of my life, it would be pasta. So you can imagine I found the Sun Kissed Pesto dish another favourite.. it seems there isn’t much I didn’t like this week..

DAY FOUR: THURSDAY

Breakfast 

Jo
I am not a big morning person, I set my alarm 7 am most mornings and I often struggle waking up. This morning I booked myself in for a 7 am reformer class and when my alarm went off at 6:15 am, I woke without any trouble. I waited till after class for breakfast, but by this time (8:30am) I was starving and dived into the Ruby Sunrise Chia and polished off the entire bowl. 

Dani
I was left with a second Good Morning Matcha and if you’ve read this far, you know I am not a fan, so I skipped breakfast for today. 

Lunch

Jo
Ok, I’ve found it – the dish I would be happy to eat every day! It’s meal No.11 Soya, Edamame, Black Fungi Udon Noodle. This dish is so satisfying, it’s hard to believe it tastes so fresh! Looking at the nutritional content, I am also shocked the calories are so low. GET IN MY BELLY. 

Dani
Dinner for me was the Dawn Discovery Satay which isn’t a huge stretch as a meal for me with my regular diet. I love Broccoli so I found this delicious, filling and super energising. It again surprises me how fresh the meals taste after being microwaved and by today I am 100% converted to eating vegan. I would happily make sure I order Soulara for weeks where I know I am going to be super busy as I really believe this would help with my efficiency and clarity of mind!

Dinner

Jo
Dinner meal No.12 was at an Italian restaurant with a few friends. Before heading to dinner I spent a good 10 mins on the couch looking at the online menu, realising Italian was probably one of the hardest cuisines to eat vegan. Vegetarian would have been easy because the vegetarian substitute for meat-based protein is cheese, cheese and more cheese but there were little to no vegan options.

There was salad where I could remove the feta and pasta so I went for that which left me very unsatisfied and realising that for most restaurants, vegan meals are not yet a consideration in 2020. 

Dani
I was looking forward to my Singapore Spirit Noodles and whipped them into the microwave and polished off the entire bowl before my partner has even turned on the stovetop for his dinner.

Snack

Jo
Feeling very unsatisfied after dinner, I went home and had not one but two Paleo Peanut Butter Cups. My new favourite treat. 

Dani
It was a Choco Delight for me with a side of cinnamon tea and I really felt like I was winning at life by the end of the day today. Once I had my diet in order, I felt like the rest of my day to day life was easy. 

DAY 5: FRIDAY

Breakfast

Jo
Day 5 and I was out of breakfast dishes so I popped off to my local Harris Farm and invested in a gourmet bag of muesli, almond milk and nectarines. One thing I knew, was that I am now a convert for switching up my eggs to muesli for weekday breakfasts’.

Dani
I had earlier this week done a quick supermarket shop and bought myself some vegan yoghurt and muesli so it was a handful of muesli and 2 large dessert spoons of yoghurt for me. A new household favourite of ours! 

Lunch

Jo 
My friend Ash popped into my inbox! Jo lunch? I selected a cafe in Glebe, making sure they had a good vegan option. I went for a nourishing bowl as it felt like one big bowl of health and I was still keeping up my vegan diet. Ordering healthy bowls isn’t new to me but I would normally add some meat base for protein but I was no longer missing meat and this felt new and something I wanted to continue. 

Dinner

Jo
A few friends had invited me out, it was a Friday night after all. I pleasantly declined, as I was feeling good after a week of eating vegan meals and didn’t want to ruin my vibe. It was a night in on the couch eating the Healing Turmeric Soup followed by a green tea, and a Paleo Peanut Butter Cup

Dani
My last meal for the week was the Healing Turmeric Soup and I am just not a soup person so I opted to skip this one as I had the worlds biggest craving for hot chips so I marched around the corner and ordered the largest size of chips I could. No regrets. 

The Verdict

Jo
It has been just over a month since we tried going vegan with Soulara and since there have been two things I’ve switched up: I’ve gone from eating scrambled eggs every morning to muesli.

Secondly, I have reduced the amount of meat I am eating. I haven’t cut out cheese – this probably has a lot to do with a hard-to-break addiction.  But until trialling Soulara, I believed I needed to have animal-based protein in every meal for my iron and energy levels, but I know now this is absolutely no longer the case and I was very mistaken! 

Yes, I may have only made two lifestyle changes and not fully converted but it’s really been a mindset change for me and I look forward to integrating more changes and reducing those animal products I can live without so I can continue to chase that feeling of being less bloated and more energetic.  

Dani
Despite being either vegetarian or pescatarian for most of my life I was still a vegan sceptic. For me, it just wasn’t a life I wanted to live without eggs or cheese and the whole idea of cooking vegan seemed incredibly difficult and not to mention, expensive. But a week with Soulara and I now know the myths about my body needing certain things it a load of sh*t. 

I am happy to report I am opting for vegan yoghurt and muesli most mornings for breakfast as I feel this helps me start my day right. We’re also aiming to eat more vegan meals in the evening and I am trying my best to stop reaching for the grated cheese for every meal as hard as that may be.

Overall, I loved feeling like I was full of energy and the clarity of mind during that week was off the charts, I almost felt superhuman! I hope my household can continue to shift towards a vegan lifestyle, but for now, it’s one step at a time. 

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