‘I went vegan for five days’: Here's what happened to Gold Coast Bulletin reporter Emily Selleck

18 May 2017

It has hooked celebrities including Alicia Silverstone, Ariana Grade, Ellen DeGeneres, Miley Cyrus and Casey Affleck.

The plant-based vegan diet in which meat, dairy and other animal products are banned is popular on the Gold Coast where avo smash is a cafe staple and a gym seems to be on every corner.

Reporter Emily Selleck, “raised on roast chicken and barbecues”, decided to see what the fuss was about, changing her diet for a week.

This was her experience:

MONDAY

If I was going to do this properly, I had to enlist the help of a vegan friend.

“Vegan isn’t something you can be for a short period of time, vegan means refraining from using animal products in all aspects of your life including not wearing leather or wool,” she told me.

Veganism hinges on three things: sustaining the environment, eradicating animal use and abuse, and maintaining the optimum health that a well-balanced plant-based diet can deliver.

That meant I was going makeup-free for a week, unless the brands have explicitly stated they don’t test on animals.

“You will need to eat bigger portion sizes because fruits and vegetables are less calorically dense than animal products so it is easy to under eat as a vegan,” she said.

“Make sure you eat lots of fruit and veggies rather than just breads and pastas and vegan junk food.”

I wish I could say I didn’t buy a block of vegan chocolate, but I did ... and it was delicious.

Day one wasn’t too challenging: I was surprisingly satisfied by my meals and actually felt fuller than usual.

Breakfast: Granola with chia seeds, almond milk and banana

Lunch: Sauteed mushrooms and sweet potato fries

Dinner: Pasta with eggplant, mushroom and tomato

Mood: Full/satisfied

TUESDAY

My work day starts at 5am, which means my actual day starts at 4am, and for the first time ever I was in such a deep slumber that I slept through my alarms and had to get ready at lightning speed (lucky I was going sans makeup this week).

I couldn’t believe I was already feeling the effects of my plant-based meals.

Although the nuts and fruits filled me up more than a piece of toast, I felt lethargic at work and sluggish when I went for a run in the afternoon.

Breakfast: Granola with nuts, blueberries and banana

Lunch: Cacao, chia, coconut and date balls

Dinner: Pizza with mushroom, zucchini, spinach and eggplant pizza

Mood: Lethargic

WEDNESDAY

If veganism was a religion, Gold Coaster Ellie Bullen would be Jesus, or at least one of his disciples.

She founded the foodie blog Elsa’s Wholesome Life and became an Instagram star in the process.

She explained that I needed to incorporate plant-based proteins such as tofu, lentils, chickpeas and beans in order to get my energy levels up.

“People think being vegan is boring or bland, but it can be really exciting,” Ellie said.

“What is publicised is so incorrect, you don’t see ads for broccoli, you see ads for pork. People are eating enough meat as it is and only five per cent are eating enough veggies.”

For breakfast I headed to Naked Treaties at The Kitchens Robina and ordered activated buckwheat crepes with berries and coconut.

I still don’t know what activated buckwheat is, but I know it kept me full until dinner.

Before this week, my cooking repertoire comprised spaghetti bolognaise and scrambled eggs (I have actually been known to burn chocolate).

So you can imagine the disaster that ensued when I went off-recipe and my vege-potato bake plans went out the window, or into the rubbish bin.

I also heeded Ellie’s advice and watched What the Health, a documentary that explored health concerns relating to the meat, dairy and pharmaceutical industries and how health problems are consequences of consuming animal products.

The filmmakers spoke to a number of high-profile vegans, so I googled Celebrity Vegans and up popped Ariana Grande, Liam Hemsworth, Miley Cyrus, Ellen DeGeneres, Sia and James Cameron.

What the Health was made by the guys who directed Cowspiracy — that sleek Netflix doco executive produced by Leo DiCaprio — which explored the claim that 51 per cent of global greenhouse gases are caused by animal agriculture.

But perhaps the most explosive and confronting doco is Earthlings: after sitting through nearly two hours of horrifying footage I was feeling pretty good about my decision to abstain from animal products.

Brunch: Activated buckwheat crepes with berries and coconut from Naked Treaties

Dinner: Pumpkin Soup and Avocado on Toast

Mood: Happy/Energetic

THURSDAY

This was the most delicious day thus far.

For breakfast I headed to Elixiba at The Kitchens Robina for the launch of their brekky menu.

I indulged in smashed avo, tempeh, tofu scramble, roast mushroom and an apple dosa pie with caramel ice cream.

I had my latte with almond milk and by the time I left, there was no doubt in my mind that vegan can be delicious. I didn’t miss meat at all.

For lunch, I ordered an acai bowl from Kiss The Berry sans honey (sigh) and for dinner I was treated to a tasting board at Greenhouse Canteen & Bar at Miami.

The girls behind the popular vegan eatery explained their house-made cheeses are ideal for vegans that miss indulging in cheese — and it actually tastes like the real deal.

Their meatless meatball sub could actually pass as a (yummier) Subway sandwich and it didn’t contain any meat.

Mind. Blown.

The same could be said for their jackfruit enchilada. Jackfruit is a fruit that tastes like pulled pork when it’s cooked.

Breakfast: Smashed avo, tempeh, tofu scramble, roast mushroom and apple dosa pie with caramel ice cream at Elixiba

Lunch: Acai bowl

Dinner: Basil pesto, vegan cheeses, meatless meatball with cauliflower cheese, smoked jackfruit enchilada topped with Mexican cashew cheese at Greenhouse Canteen & Bar

Mood: Feeling like the picture of health

FRIDAY

Into my fifth day of veganism, reaching for fruits and vegetables over eggs and chicken had become second-nature.

I didn’t go into this experiment expecting to lose weight — although I have been known to google “how to lose 5kgs in two days” two days out from summer — but I actually lost 1kg.

I’ve been informed it’s likely just “water weight” but after meeting a number of healthy, glowing vegans this week, I believe this lifestyle has long-term health benefits.

That’s not to mention the environmental benefits.

Although you can eat a bit of meat and dairy without causing problems to your personal health, I’m not sure whether I can go back to supporting an industry that profits from animal cruelty.

Who knows, maybe I will cave when I catch a waft of Mum’s Atlantic salmon, but for now, I’m over the one-week hump and don’t need meat to complete a meal.

Breakfast: Cacao, chia, coconut and date balls

Lunch: Avocado toast

Dinner: Tempeh with vegetables

Mood: Ready to put ‘plant-based human’ in my Instagram bio.

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