The End of the Challenge

Well, David and I made it. It was a week full of challenges, tests of will power, and cravings, but we stuck to our guns and remained vegan for the entire week. We have been by no means advocating a vegan lifestyle- that is not what this week was about. This week was about beginning to gain insight into another perspective, all with the hope of becoming a more effective communicator because of it. I may have only been vegan for a short seven days, but I experienced some of the challenges vegans face everyday and some of the choices they have to make.

 

I was also reminded of some pretty important things this week. Supporting the agriculture industry doesn’t mean just buying milk, eggs and beef. It means supporting all people in the industry, from broccoli to lentil producers. They are all part of the industry I love and they all deserve to be advocated for. This week has made me more mindful of the choices I make in the grocery store and of who I am supporting.

 

I was also reminded of how truly wonderful most people are. Everyone I talked to this week was supportive of the experiment and offered encouragement or advice. When I ran into people I hadn’t seen in a while, they told me they had been reading my blogs and thought what David and I were doing was great. People I have never met before were sending me Tweets with advice and showing a true interest in what we were doing. It was amazing. So thank you to everyone who followed along this week and made it easier for us to follow the rules and get something out of this week. We couldn’t have done it without you!

 

Yesterday wasn’t really a challenge for me. Perhaps it was knowing it was almost over or I was just too busy to think about it, but I made my vegan choices with little to no thought. I had oatmeal for breakfast prior to my graduation writing exam, couscous for lunch and David and I made spaghetti squash for dinner. No big deal.  But, around 10:30 last night, David and I did begin to anxiously watch our clocks and make little announcements like “1 hour and 23 minutes left!” People kept asking last night if we had a first meal planned. I can’t say I really did last night, but eggs and bacon have a certain appeal this morning.

 

Last Sunday, I honestly wasn’t sure how this week would turn out. Would David pass out from lack of dairy? Would I be able to concentrate in class? Would we actually be able to eliminate all animal products from our diet for an entire week? Would we actually be able to do it? Well, we did. We even ate soy chicken and tofu. I know we are both proud that we removed ourselves from our own shoes and walked in someone else’s for a change. Again, thank you so much for following along with us and learning right along with us!

 

Losing My Train of Thought

I have 30 hours left as a vegan. I can’t believe how quickly this week has gone by. Not that it hasn’t been challenging, but I expected it to be a little more agonizing. It wasn’t until today that I started feeling any negative effects. I didn’t eat enough protein yesterday, making this morning rough. I had trouble concentrating in class and during a conversation with my advisor, I kept losing my train of thought, plus I was super lethargic. I knew what was going on, so I had some quinoa at lunch and felt much better. I’m still really tired though.

I could have avoided these side effects of veganism if I had made more of an effort yesterday to eat more protein, but frankly it was difficult for me to find any quality vegan protein yesterday. I also worked out for an hour yesterday (running and stair master), which most likely depleted any protein I had stored. I wasn’t smart about my choices, but quality choices were not easily accessible yesterday.

I did find some good choices for tonight. I have to make sure I don’t repeat this morning tomorrow, as I am taking my graduation writing exit exam. I visited the health food store and picked up portions of two dishes: “Paradise Tempeh” and a lentil and orzo salad. Both the tempeh and the lentils should provide me with some solid protein to help fuel my morning. I haven’t tasted them yet, but I’m going to have to eat it no matter what, because I want to graduate.

David and I have only exchanged a couple of text messages today and surprisingly, none of them were vegan week related, so I have no idea how he did today. He was visiting a dairy in the Central Valley today for a class, so he wasn’t sure how his day as going to go. I know he was planning on packing a lunch incase the class decided to hit up In-n-Out. We are both busy tomorrow, but we will be meeting up for our final vegan meal and to record a new video blog to wrap up the week, so keep a look out for it!

Agriculture: The Most Important Industry in the World

I posted this blog this morning on the Brock Center for Agricultural Communications blog in response to the Yahoo article naming agriculture as the most useless of college degree. You can read the original post here. 

This morning, Yahoo ran a story titled “College Majors That Are Useless.” Their number one most useless degree in America? Agriculture. You can read the article here.

This is beyond frustrating. Yes, farms are becoming more mechanized. Yes, we are becoming more efficient at producing more food on less land. But let’s not forget the population is growing rapidly and we still need to greatly increase agricultural production.

Agriculture isn’t just farming and ranching either. Agribusiness provides a multitude of jobs with the express purpose of supporting the farming and ranching segments of the industry.

How detached from agriculture are the majority of Americans if they think agriculture degrees are useless? Did they eat breakfast this morning? Are they wearing clothes? Are they using a computer? Without the agriculture industry, none of these things would have been possible.

Agriculture is not the most useless degree in America. People going into the agriculture industry need to be educated so we can continue to feed the growing population. In our opinion, agriculture has been and always will be, the most important industry in America.

Chocolate Cake and Useful Degrees

Well, Day 5 is just about done. This was by far the easiest day for me, but that may be because I knew I would be baking a dessert tonight. My friend Katie brought cupcakes by the Brock Center today and I barely even noticed. I hope the last two days are as great as today!

While I was having the easiest day yet, David was experiencing his first challenging day. He was nowhere near as bad as I was the first few days, but I saw him making a few longing looks at the Chick-fil-A section of the cafeteria. He had a few light complaints, but overall, we’re both doing well!

I am just about to put the finishing touches on a vegan chocolate ganache cake. I snuck a little bit of the unfrosted cake and if I hadn’t known it was vegan, I wouldn’t have been able to tell. I’m very excited to have a slice and David is making a point to come by and get a piece after a late night group project meeting. That is how desperate we are for something sugary.

Yesterday I said I was going to eat more fruit today. I tried, but it’s January and I was limited to what campus dining could provide. I did get a fresh fruit cup with my lunch today, but someone in my house ate all the bananas and nothing at the store this afternoon looked good. I promise to eat more fruit as more of it comes into season.

I’m sure most of you heard about the Yahoo article today which named agriculture, animal science and horticulture degrees as some of the most useless college degrees. I know this is not true, but I feel as if the article just reaffirms what David and I are trying to do this week- begin to understand a new perspective and became more effective communicators for the agriculture industry. Clearly, agriculture needs people to speak up and remind the nation how irreplaceable an industry agriculture is.

Daily Food Log

Breakfast

Steel cut oats with sugar and raisins

Snack

Soy latte

Lunch

Vegan Chilli

Ritz Crackers

Fruit Cup

Dinner

Salad with kidney beans, chickpeas, sunflower seeds, corn, carrots and balsamic vinegar

Potato patty

Dessert

Vegan chocolate cake with vegan chocolate ganache

Vegan Kitchen Nightmare

Tonight, I had my first awful vegan meal. Sadly, I cooked it myself. My roommates and I were able to at least eat a serving of it, but David had three bites and announced that it was time for an emergency Jamba Juice run. My feelings were a little hurt, but then I remembered I hadn’t liked it either.

 

I started out with the best of intentions. After cruising around Pinterest this afternoon, I found a vegan stir-fry recipe that looked promising. It was jus a bunch of vegetables with some soy sauce and rice noodles. I can’t be one hundred percent sure, but I think it was the addition of the tofu that may have sent things downhill.

 

The dish was made up of the following: broccoli, carrots, celery, zucchini, bell pepper, mushrooms, ginger, diced almonds, rice noodles, extra firm tofu and soy sauce. I tasted the dish for the first couple of steps and everything tasted fine. I tasted it after the addition of the rice noodles and tofu, which is where things no longer tasted fine.

 

I did try. I even ate the tofu, because who would I be if I didn’t even try it? For the record, David did eat about five pieces of tofu in his three bites. The tofu didn’t really taste like anything, it just had a very interesting texture. While all the components of the dinner were okay, together, it just didn’t work.

 

Besides the dinner disaster and my growing pile of homework, today was actually a really great day. Both David and I are feeling the temptation of little less, though I did almost poor myself a glass of milk at dinner out of habit (I caught myself though, I promise). My friend Leslie was even eating a sandwich from my favorite deli in the office today and it didn’t really bother me, surprisingly enough.

 

As  I said yesterday, today I made an effort to eat more vegetables. I had carrots and hummus for a snack, a salad for lunch and then all the vegetables in the stir-fry. Since today was all about vegetables, I’ll make tomorrow more about fruit. I’ve realized during these past four days that I can’t forget to support all aspects of the agriculture industry year round.

 

Yesterday in his blog, David talked about growing up on a dairy and not knowing that there were people in the world who disliked what he and his family did until he was a teenager. This post got an amazing comment. The reader, who is a vegan, shared that not all vegans dislike farmers and ranchers, they just dislike some of their practices. She went on to say that just because some people don’t always agree with you doesn’t mean they don’t like you.

 

I’ve never really considered the fact that not all vegans are against all conventional farming and ranching. Just like it was a choice for us to go vegan this week and it is a choice for us to consume animal products normally, it is their choice not to consume animal products. These choices don’t mean we can’t be friends. This is definitely something I will be reflecting on for some time and something that I hope will help me to bridge the gap between the two groups.

 

This post has gotten a little long, but I had a lot to say today. I’m glad that this challenge is helping me do what I set out to do: gain an understanding of another group. I’m also happy that I am learning things I didn’t know I wasn’t aware of, such as being more mindful of all the producers in the agriculture industry. In just four short days, I feel like I have learned amultitude of new things.

 

Daily Food Log

Breakfast

Steel Cut oats with brown sugar and banana

Snack

Baby carrots with hummus

Rtiz crackers

Soy latte

Lunch

Salad with back beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, soy beans, sunflower seeds, carrots, olives and vinegar.

Dinner

Tofu stir-fry with vegetables

Water

35 ounces

Day 3

Today wasn’t so bad. Except for some midday hunger (which was documented in my previous post, titled “I’m Hungry”), today went really well. I think I might finally be settling in.

I started my day off with a handful of almonds and a workout. I’m getting pretty sick of almonds, but they are the easiest thing to grab for some quick energy before an early morning workout. After the gym, I made myself steel cut oats for the first time. I eat a lot of Quaker Oats, but David insisted on buying steel cut oats for the week, despite their increased price. They also take upwards of 30 minutes to make, which caused me to rush my morning just a little bit. But topped with some banana and brown sugar, they were pretty delicious. I made some extra, so I’ll probably do the same thing for breakfast tomorrow. Maybe I’ll swirl some jam in though…

Lunch was a little early today as watching everyone eat in the Brock Center made me prematurely hungry. I just picked up a salad from Campus Market and topped it with carrots, olives, kidney beans, chick peas, sunflower seeds and vinegar. It was a pretty great salad, until my friend Katie found it necessary to point out that it would be better with some cheese and turkey on top. It’s okay, I think we’ll still be friends. As she put it, “Well, I can’t lie.”

Since I ate so early,  I was ready for a snack by the time my two o’clock class rolled around. David and I took another trip to Campus Market, where we splurged on some Ritz Crackers. Who knew they were vegan?

After my class let out, I went to the Starbucks on campus with David and our friend Leslie. David refused to order a soy latte, opting instead for a blackeye (coffee with a shot of espresso) and conceding by adding a little soy milk to it. He didn’t like it as much as when he adds half-n-half to it, but I think we all kind of expected that. I again ordered a soy latte, still excited from the delicious one I had yesterday, only to be greatly disappointed today. I’m not sure what went wrong, but it was not tasty. Leslie got a carmel macchioto and a piece of coffee cake, but I decided it wasn’t a big deal. I’m getting better! It’s not Leslie’s fault she can consume that milky, carmely goodness.

I had a little bit of humus with pita chips while I did homework this afternoon. The humus was good, but I couldn’t believe how salty the pita chips were. It kind of ruined the snack, so I didn’t eat very much.

For dinner, I made David and myself some black bean quinoa. It was DELICIOUS. It had jalepenos, garlic, diced tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, oregano, black beans and quinoa in it. Between that and the salad, David and I felt like we had a very satisfying dinner. It filled both of us up, and we even had leftovers! It was a miracle. Between the delicious quinoa and having time to watch both Glee and New Girl on TV, it turned out to be a pretty great evening.

I did notice that I didn’t eat as many vegetables today, with the exception of the salad at lunch and dinner. The last few days have been focused on less mainstream forms of veggies, which reminded me of the speciality crop producers in the agricultural industry. Tomorrow, I’m going to try to incorporate more fresh fruits and vegetables.

I am getting really impressed with myself. I don’t know if it is the Day 3 high or what, but this is getting easier. I thought the day would be full of temptation, but the only place it was an issue was in the magazine office. David and I are still getting along, though I think we may be finding everything a little bit funnier (David and I were gut-busting laughing at something this evening and my roommates hadn’t even batted an eyelash). Here’s to hoping Day 4 and the rest of the week are just as successful!

Day 3 Food Log

Breakfast

Almonds (preworkout)

Steel cut oats with banana and sugar

Lunch

Romaine lettuce, spring mix, carrots, olives, kidney beans, chickpeas, sunflower seeds, vinegar

Snacks

Ritz Crackers

Iced soy latte

Pita chips and humus

Dinner

Quinoa with black beans, diced tomatoes, garlic and jalepenos

Water

40 ounces

I’m Hungry

I’m sitting here in the Brock Center for Agricultural Communication, and I’m hungry. Not only am I surrounded by rum cake, chocolate chip cookies and pretzel M&Ms, but Sam Doty is in here making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and asking me how the Vegan Week is going. I’m putting off my visit to Campus Market for lettuce doused in vinegar for a little longer so I don’t starve to death again before dinner. I forgot how great peanut butter and jelly smells.

As David and I talked about yesterday, we have been eating a lot of vegetables this week. Instead of mainly supporting ranchers, dairy producers and poultry farmers, we are focusing on the fruit, vegetable and speciality crop producers. In these three days, I have already grown more mindful of the the different aspects of the entire agricultural industry. After the week is over I will be making an effort to spread the love a little more and support all the different kinds of agricultural producers, because they are all apart of the industry I love.

~Carrie