The #Whatveganseat Challenge
Clicking the #whatveganseat hashtag on Twitter or Instagram seems like a pretty pointless exercise. I mean, what could there possibly be other than millions upon millions of pictures of salad?
Well, curiosity has led me to research into the hashtag, and I can confirm that scrolling through the #whatveganseat hashtag on Twitter and Instagram does indeed come up with millions upon millions of pictures of salad. Seriously. Millions. But if you were to slow down the scrolling, you would realise that these salads are not the type of thing that you would feed to small furry animals. If you were to click on each individual image, you would soon see the names of quirky ingredients, like “Seitan”, and “Tofu”, and “Polenta.” You would also see things like pancakes and pasta that can’t possibly be vegan, can they?
I briefly went vegan a few years ago, and it seemed to me that I was constantly treated as a liability. The difficult person among a group of friends, and the bane of the lives of restaurant staff everywhere. Social media has created a mysterious, hipster atmosphere around the vegan diet, and over the last few years it has become a much more prolific lifestyle choice than it used to be. In short, the hashtag makes veganism look like some sort of super power. It’s not just for hippies and freaks anymore! There are numerous health and financial benefits to the vegan diet, which as a weight conscious student is something that I am very interested in.
I would like to issue a challenge. Using the hashtag, among other sources that I will post at the bottom of this article, I would like to see if it is possible for the average human being to go vegan for a week, and see what effect (if any) it has on their lives. Let’s see what all the fuss is about. I hereby swear to go vegan for a fortnight and come back here with my findings.
If that prospect has given you heart palpitations, I feel your pain. I too am partial to a Dominos at the weekend, and the morning smell of bacon is the stuff of many people’s dreams. But let me just give you a short, hopefully painless guide to the diet, and bust some myths for you.
Vegan- A person who does not eat (or wear) any produce that has come from any part of an animal. This includes meat, dairy, eggs, and most vegans will also avoid things like honey.
Vegetarian- A person who does not eat by products of animal slaughter, such as meat and fish. Vegetarians typically fall into three categories.
- Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian- The most common type of vegetarian, whose diet consists of everything apart from meat and fish, including eggs and dairy.
- Lacto Vegetarian- This is a vegetarian who will eat dairy products but will avoid eggs.
- Ovo Vegetarian- A vegetarian who avoids dairy but will eat eggs.
Pescetarian- Someone whose diet excludes meat, but includes fish. NOTE: The next time you hear someone say “I’m a vegetarian, but I eat fish,” tell them they’re a pescetarian. Too many places would class fish dishes as vegetarian because of this common misconception.
2) Why on earth?
It’s a reasonable question. Why would anybody want to be a vegan and deny themselves the sweet sweet joy of Ben & Jerry’s? Here are some of the reasons that people using the hashtag have given, most commonly in the favoured form of yet more hashtags.
#healthyfood- Going vegan sees a natural increase in a person’s fruit and veg intake, which can only be a good thing. Also, if you do it properly, a vegan diet can contain much healthier sources of protein and calcium (see my nutrient buster below). If you’re looking to lose a couple of pounds, or tone up a little, a vegan diet might be a healthy natural way to do so without having to completely starve yourself.
#crueltyfree- Obviously nobody wants a guilt trip about animal welfare, so I’ll spare you the gory details, but apart from the slaughter of animals for meat manufacture, there is also an inordinate amount of cruel happenings in the dairy and egg manufacturing process. If you’re interested in the ins and outs, I suggest watching a programme called “Vegucated,” which can be found on Netflix.
#eatclean- Many feel that meat is not the healthy diet staple that it is commonly believed to be. You can never know what is in that seemingly innocent hotdog or burger, and the bacteria found in animal-derived foods is much more likely to make you ill than that of plant-based ones.
#guiltfree- The meat and dairy manufacturing process is continually damaging the planet, with evidence suggesting that if everybody in the world was vegetarian, we would use half of the land that we currently use. The land goes on rearing animals, and raising crops in order to feed those animals. Also, cattle eat much more than humans do, so if those crops were kept by hunger-stricken nations instead of being fed to livestock, there might not be as many people who go without food.
#budget- Meat is expensive! Carrots are not! Go figure.
3) Nutrient Buster
One large concern that many people have about the vegan diet is where to get things like protein and iron from. Here are some ingredients that the people have hashtagged.
Iron- Chickpeas, Beans, Pulses, Tofu (a white thing made of soya bean curd often used as a meat substitute), Green leafy vegetables
Protein- Nuts, Beans, Quinoa (a seed-like grain, you’d use it like you use rice), nut butter (eg: peanut), tempeh (a bit like deep-fried tofu)
B12- Marmite and lots of soya products contain B12, check the label if you’re not sure
Calcium- Cashews, Brazil nuts, Sesame seeds or Tahini paste (which is made out of sesame seed), Soy products and Green leafy vegetables such as kale
Helpful links and lovely things
The official go to site for all things veggie, the website contains information, recipes (both vegetarian and vegan), and support If you’re finding it tough. It’s also a good place to check red herring ingredients if you don’t know where they come from.
The website is American, but loads of the recipes are really tasty and very worth the extra time it takes for them to make. Use this when you have a free weekend and fancy treating yourself to an extra nice dinner. Or pudding.
This is an iPhone app with a built in scanner. It’s relatively new and so not completely full of everything you could think of, but it’s useful for scanning questionable items when doing your weekly shop.
If, like me, you have realised the irony of a post like this being on a site called “Eat More Cake,” then you’re probably wondering where you’re going to satisfy your sweet tooth. Here is a truly wonderful place to start. This woman is a health goddess. Her recipes are healthy, tasty, quick, and easy as well as being almost exclusively vegan. Her site is worth a look for EVERYONE, not just the vegan seekers, and you’ll find it here. You can also follow her on Instagram for more scrummy recipes.
I will be posting the findings of my vegan expedition after the fortnight is up. If any of you try the challenge, please do comment below or tweet us pictures (@EatMoreCakeUK). We’d love to see how you get on.