I went vegan for a week and it was actually easier than I thought
Vegan sausage rolls are lush
Veganism is huge amongst the students of today. Hundreds of supermarket alternatives to meat and dairy are hitting the shelves and most restaurants now offer tasty vegan options.
As someone who's diet is made up largely of KFC boneless banquets and ham and cheese toasties, it was something I'd never really considered until I was challenged by The Tab to try it for a week. So, how easy was it to be vegan on a student budget? And could I hack it for a whole week?
After a painfully expensive Tesco trip on Sunday, I was ready to undertake my week as a vegan. What I found was that fruit and vegetables were cheap, but things started to get expensive in the region of alternatives to regular food, such as quorn. I opted for a sort of vegan cheese and crackers for lunch and immediately discovered the home truth that would haunt me for the next week; the textures were all right but the taste was SO wrong – bland and just sort of…weird.
Around 3pm, I began to get peckish so decided to head to the trusty Students' Union Co-Op for a snack. Honestly, there was quite a selection of snacks for vegans and I chose a vegan sausage roll and some Itsu seaweed thins. The sausage roll was decidedly average but the seaweed thins were unreal – not everyone's cup of tea but if you like seaweed in sushi, you'll like these.
By teatime, my Dad had heard of my vegan quest so cooked a sort of cannellini bean spaghetti, which was tasty but some bacon or chicken wouldn't have gone amiss. So far, veganism wasn't too difficult but was fairly boring.
Tuesday was the absolute highlight of the week – I skipped breakfast and decided to take a lunchtime trip to Junk It Up, a vegan fast food haven located in The Stack. I opted for the 'fricken' sandwich – 3 pieces of vegan fried 'chicken', lettuce and vegan mayo in a bun, along with some fries, which cost me around £7.50. Quite honestly it was delicious. Was it as good as regular fried chicken? No, but it was definitely a worthy substitute and I was pleasantly surprised.
For tea, I lost my quorn virginity in the form of fajitas. Again, these were delicious and I couldn't even tell the difference between the quorn and real chicken. I followed it up with an Alpro soy chocolate hazelnut dessert pot, which I also approved of.
After a lunch of more flavourless vegan cheese and crackers, I decided it was time to try some vegan sweets. Despite being advised by a vegan friend that vegan chocolate was minging and I should just eat Bournville instead, I'd already bought it so decided to eat it anyway. I found it was not unlike the chocolate you find in your Disney princess advent calendar at age four, take from that what you will. Vegan gummy bears, however, are a big win, once you get past the softer, gooey texture.
For tea, I had vegan burgers and sausages in buns, which I was so hungry for I forgot to take a picture of (whoops!) The vegan sausages weren't my cup of tea but this is most likely because I don't really like sausages anyway – the burgers, however, were rivals for the real thing and being from Tesco's own plant based range, didn't break the bank.
Thursday brought my first breakfast as I had a 10am. I opted for Special K with almond milk (better than real milk, btw) and an Alpro vegan greek style yoghurt. This breakfast didn't even taste vegan, and on further inspection I discovered that Special K actually wasn't, my first slip up of the week.
I skipped lunch, but by tea, I was beginning to get lazy, opting for some vegan chicken goujons and soy noodles. By this point in the week, veganism was really beginning to take it's toll on my chicken-focused mind, and despite my vegan fried chicken earlier in the week, KFC was all I could think about.
After another alpro breakfast, I once again headed to the Co-Op for a meal deal. Despite the temptation of BLTs, I managed to choose a bland vegan pasta salad, as well as yep, you guessed it – Itsu Seaweed Thins.
For tea, I made sweet potato curry which wasn't too bad considering I hate sweet potato, as well as another alpro yoghurt which were among the better things I've eaten this week.
On Saturday, it was finally time to try a vegan sausage roll from every Geordie's favourite lunch spot, Greggs. I paid my £1, took the first bite and it was time for the verdict… they're better than regular sausage rolls. Granted, the pastry isn't as flaky but for that price you really can't go wrong. I also decided to try vegan biscuits, despite the fact I could've just eaten Oreos.
On my final day, my patience was really tested. My Mum was cooking Sunday roast and since I was vegan, i was limited to carrots, potato and cabbage – I couldn't even have gravy or mash. However, after this, my vegan week was finally over, and what had I learned?
Well, veganism was more expensive than my regular diet but did have it's benefits, however I don't think I'll be making it a permanent diet change any time soon.