SHU student tries vegan diet for a day

Founded in 1944, The Vegan Society’s mission statement is to “work towards making veganism an easily adopted and widely recognized approach to reducing animal and human suffering.” Photo from vegan

Over the past seven years, veganism has risen in popularity through the influence of social media, celebrities and the internet. How and why has it gained the amount of popularity it has

According to the Vegan Society’s website, a vegan diet has many health benefits such as increased energy, links to lower blood pressure and cholesterol and lower rates of heart disease, among other benefits. Additional information on the website discusses how a vegan diet can reduce carbon footprints, as only one-third the amount of land is needed to support a plant-based diet as opposed to a meat-based diet.

After hearing all the benefits of a vegan diet, I decided to try it out for myself to form my own opinion on veganism. On Saturday Feb. 10, all the food I ate would be vegan.

I had intended to head down to Lowe Dining Hall and see what I could start out my day of veganism with, but I woke up late and had to leave, as I was heading back to my parent’s house for more kitchen space. I did have an apple after I got ready so I was already off to a great start.

Skipping ahead a few hours, it was time to actually cook some vegan food. I had found a recipe online for a vegan queso that I just had to try.

If you have a large spice collection, like my dad does, the shopping list quickly gets cut down to a bare minimum. The only things I had to buy for this recipe were non-roasted, unsalted cashews (which were bought the night before as they had to soak overnight), a jalapeno pepper and nutritional yeast. And no, you cannot use another form of yeast. Nutritional yeast is highly different than regular yeast and they are not interchangeable. Nutritional yeast is a thickening agent while traditional yeast is a rising agent. I explained the difference more times than I cared while I was out looking for the correct form of yeast.

After a long time of shopping for the yeast, it was time to finally make the queso. The recipe was pretty easy to follow as all the ingredients went into a blender and then were transferred to a saucepan to be stirred for five minutes.

Finally done, I sat down to enjoy my hard work when my dad decided to eat half of my queso before I could even take a bite. In the words of an avid meat eater, aka my father, “It’s good.”

In my own words, I, too, thought the queso was pretty good. It does not have a super cheesy flavor since you cannot eat cheese on a vegan diet. But here is the great thing about nutritional yeast: it smells and tastes similar to parmesan cheese. The dish does not look like traditional queso; it does have a tanner color because of the cashew base. It is also thicker than some quesos I have had in the past. When I tried this recipe I said that no one at a party would notice any difference taste wise if this was laid out. 10/10, would eat again.

This vegan queso could fool anyone. The recipe calls for nutritional yeast as an alternative to cheese, having a similar taste and smell. Photo by H.Zunic/Setonian.

Not all of the food I made this day was good. First of all, I ended up burning the vegan dinner I tried to make since I have virtually no cooking skills.

Then I decided to make one of those microwave mug cakes. Those are pretty hard to mess up seeing as you mix all the ingredients together then put them in a mug to bake in a microwave. Well apparently, that’s easier said than done.

I do not know if the recipe I used was wrong, or if I am just that bad at cooking and baking. When I was mixing the batter, it was a very dry batter, similar to that of a bread dough. I did follow the recipe correctly, but the batter just looked wrong. Most mug cakes have a more liquid batter, and here I was putting what looked like bread dough into a mug.

After my questionable mixing skills, the recipe called for the cake to bake for three minutes and when I pulled it out of the microwave, it was not baked on top. This is where I am not sure if the recipe was not accurate or if I am just that bad of a cook. I probably baked the mug cake for another two minutes and it still did not cook. It got to the point where I could see that the cake was getting hard around the edges so I took the uncooked yet hard cake out of the microwave. I do not know why the top of the cake did not cook; the inside was fully cooked (and a little crunchy) yet there was a layer of uncooked dough on top.

Not only were there problems in the baking aspect of this cake, but the taste was not much better.

The cake was predominantly made out of banana and I was expecting the cake to taste like that and nothing more, but it did not. I honestly cannot really describe the taste of this monstrosity. It was just this bitter taste that lingered in the back of my mouth.

While I was shopping for the ingredients for all the recipes, I was worried I would screw up so I bought a pint of vegan-friendly Ben and Jerry’s. Yes, the holy grail of ice cream does have vegan-friendly options.

As always, the Ben and Jerry’s did not disappoint. It certainly is not like a regular pint of Ben and Jerry’s, but it was still delicious. I had the vegan-friendly version of the fudge brownie flavor. It definitely was not as creamy as a regular pint of ice cream; it was much more like a chocolate flavored whipped cream, and I wished I had bought more.

That ends my day of trying to be a vegan, and I have some thoughts. First, I have nothing against this diet, and if I had more time and money I could probably fully go vegan since I do not eat much meat or animal-based foods as it is. Since I am a full-time student with no job currently, it is harder for me to get vegan food, as I do not have the money to support the dietary needs of veganism.

Ben & Jerry’s introduced its non-dairy, vegan-friendly line of flavors in February of 2016. Photo from

Being a full-time student with a meal plan, I am eating on campus multiple times a day. After looking at what both Lowe Dining Hall and the Cove have to offer vegan-wise, the options are limited. It is a little upsetting that there are not many vegan options here on campus should I wish to become vegan.

Again, I have nothing against veganism, but becoming vegan is not in the cards for me at the moment given my lack of money and being a full-time student. Overall, the food I had was fairly good, and would probably be better if I was a better cook. Except for that mug cake, that was nasty.

I think if someone is interested in trying vegan food, or becoming vegan, then he or she should definitely do it. The food is honestly not that bad and can be quite tasty. Veganism may not be for everyone, but is definitely worth trying.

Published By: Stephen Dumnich

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