Editor’s note: To start the new year, CharlotteFive writers and staffers are committing to 7-day, 14-day and 30-day challenges from now through January to shake up our norms and lifestyles. Here’s the third in our series. Read our first and second articles.

When our team decided to come up with challenges for the month of January, I confidently stated, “I’ll become vegan for a week.” The team responded with a simple, “Sounds good.” Feeling hyped up on too much coffee, I blurted, “No, actually I’ll do it for TWO WEEKS!” (Honestly, who am I?)

Now, I would consider myself a somewhat healthy person. I love a good salad and try to maintain an active lifestyle — but let’s just say I’m no vegetarian yogi, like my co-worker Katie Toussaint. (Seriously, Katie, you’re insane.)

So before I chronicle my 14-day journey, let me clarify: While my typical eating is far from animal-free, I do opt for cruelty-free products. I don’t own any furs and I admire those who opt for a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle. I wanted to see if I could do it myself for a limited amount of time.

First, I had to brush up on what exactly “vegan” means.

According to The Vegan Society, veganism is “a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.”

I decided to focus on food. And I made to sure to tell everyone—before, during and after the challenge—about my experiment. Literally, I told every person that came near me, texted or called me that I was going to be a vegan for 14 days. Here’s a tweet from my cousin making fun of my journey. (What an amazing support system, am I right?)

Days 1-7:

Verdict: Living my best life

Initial Mood: Before I began, I was already feeling pretty gross from all the holiday eating, little exercise and stress from work, so I was excited to begin my short-lived vegan journey. I researched sample menu meals that were vegan friendly, bought all my groceries for the week and took a B-12 vitamin to maintain energy throughout the day.

Here’s a look at what I ate:

Breakfast items included:

  • Silk Almondmilk Yogurt Alternative with chia seeds and blackberries
  • Two pieces of whole wheat toast with Justin’s almond butter and blackberries
  • Starbucks oatmeal with walnuts and brown sugar
  • Fruit cup including strawberries, kiwi, pineapple, blackberries and pomegranates
  • Smoothie
  • Black coffee
  • Green tea
Lunch items included:
  • Two pieces of whole-wheat toast with white beans mixed with hummus, with some edamame on the side. Not a great start for my first vegan lunch. Also not very photogenic.

  • Celery with hummus and hot sauce
  • Almonds
  • Applesauce
  • Luna’s Living Kitchen kale caesar salad and arugula harvest salad
  • Green tea
Dinner items included:
  • Falafel with spinach, tomatoes, onions and tahini sauce
  • Avocado toast
  • Oranges
  • Viva Chicken half quinoa stuffed avocado, with house balsamic and lettuce
  • Cauliflower pizza with tomatoes, spinach and olive oil
  • Bad Daddy’s black-bean burger with avocado and green chilies (I nixed the cheese and chipotle-ranch sauce.)
  • Green tea


Did I mention I’m the social media manager for CharlotteFive? That basically means I see amazing food pictures on Instagram all day. I’d catch myself watching Tasty videos and even bloggers trying food like Chinese donuts and bowls of ramen. I don’t even like ramen?! It got weird.

You’d think I could escape from dreaming about food while out for work, but no, that was definitely not the case. On day two, I came back to see a pile of homemade cookies brought in by my so-called “friend” Caroline. I even had to say no to a media lunch at Stoke. UGH, the agony.

Home life wasn’t easy either. You never notice how many food commercials there are until you’re on a diet. I legit was drooling over Burger King and Little Caesars commercials before deciding to clean my room instead. That curbed the craving—for a bit.

Mess Ups:

Day 4: I was feeling mentally stronger. Nothing could stop me. I bragged to my childhood friend Allison about my healthy lunch, and added, “I also bought some gummy bears for a treat since I can’t eat anything chocolate.” She promptly responded with, “You know gelatin in gummy bears aren’t vegan, right?”

I quickly Googled it. The chewy collagen is obtained from various animal body parts. DAMMIT, SALLIE!

Oh wait, there’s more.

Day 5: It was Friday night, and my team at work gathered for a post-holiday party. I brought a fruit tray and caprese skewers. (Yes, I bravely touched the mozzarella in prepping the dish, but didn’t eat it.) Katie Toussaint’s boyfriend, Remy, even made me a special vegan “cheese” and fig appetizer (bless his soul). The night was going well.

I bypassed the cream-cheese-filled jalapeño poppers, the charcuterie board and the oyster cheese dip. The party was almost over. We’d all had a few drinks, people started to leave, and my stomach started angrily growling. I started feeling weaker by the minute. And I allowed my hand to graze the bowl of sausage balls. I snuck one.

It was everything I’d dreamt of for five days. The hunger was gone immediately. Seconds later, I confessed: “I ATE ONE SAUSAGE BALL.”

My team just rolled their eyes and shook their heads.

End-of-the-week mood: The first few days were definitely an initial shock. I always felt like my eyes were glazed over and I was never fully myself. I did however have WAY more energy at night and would decide to vacuum at 10 p.m., re-arrange the artwork in my room, do laundry, etc. (Wow, I’m an excellent and quiet roommate.) Although my energy levels were a little out of whack, I felt like I was starting to get in the zone when it came to healthy eating, eating small meals throughout the day and not eating because I was bored.

Days 8-14:

Verdict: Disasterville, U.S.A.

Breakfast items included:
  • Starbucks oatmeal with walnuts and brown sugar
  • Fruit cup
  • Black coffee with a bit of soy or almond milk
  • PB&J smoothie with almond milk
  • Green tea

Lunch items included:

  • Quinoa, sweet potatoes, spinach and carrots
  • Almonds
  • Luna’s Living Kitchen kale caesar salad
  • Rhino Market Tofu You sandwich (which was actually pretty tasty)
  • Blackberries
  • Green tea

Dinner items included:

  • Quinoa, mushrooms, spinach and tomatoes
  • Not Just Coffee’s avocado toast
  • Quinoa with black beans and carrots
  • Luna’s Living Kitchen split pea soup, hummus and cauliflower rice
  • Green tea


The last week was definitely the hardest for me, mentally and physically. The best meal to me throughout the last week was avocado toast. I ate it every other day. It was the only item that curbed my salt cravings.

Did I mention that I also live on Park Road, seemingly 500 feet away from Chick-fil-A, Smashburger, Wendy’s, Viva Chicken and Jimmy John’s? Literally, animal-based products were surrounding me at all times. This was becoming a problem and I was getting more annoyed at things I couldn’t eat during my final week. Mentally I was crashing and burning, especially on the twelfth day…

Mess Ups:

Day 12: The weekends are seriously the hardest to be strict on a diet in general. Your schedule is up in the air and all I wanted to do was eat a turkey sandwich or, in this case, something more extreme…a number one from Chick-fil-A. Yep, I admit. I’m the absolute worst at this challenge.

My body was physically weak and my mind was going insane. I had gone out the night before for a bit with my friends and could not find any food that was up to my liking for lunch on Saturday. I didn’t want to eat quinoa or a salad, and couldn’t make it to Not Just Coffee quick enough for avocado toast. So instead, I told my roommate, “I don’t care what you say, I am leaving to get Chick-fil-A.”

Off I was, with a beanie, sunglasses and a hoodie on to remain ‘undercover.’ I felt eyes were on me the entire time. I didn’t even look at the kind woman taking my order because I felt so guilty.

I came back to eat only half of my meal, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it wasn’t even that amazing. I threw my arms up in disappointment. That wasn’t even worth it! Sure the chicken made me feel a little full, but I honestly felt gross with everything fried I was eating.

End-of-the-challenge mood

I was a little disappointed, cheating a few times in the little time of my challenge. Hey, I’m human and humans have cravings. This was a complete 180 on my typical eating routine.

I lost a few pounds, which was nice, but I was also eating real food, cooking more and getting into a healthier routine – which was my overall goal for 2018.

I’ve been done with the challenge for a few days and still haven’t had cheese, mayonnaise, yogurt or beef. The only animal-based products I’ve consumed have been eggs and turkey burgers.

I’m more excited about cooking and trying new foods that are not in my usual grocery store routine. I have more energy and am pickier than ever when it comes to what I’m consuming on a daily basis.

It’s been an interesting start to 2018 and I hope to continue getting out of my comfort zone every once in a while. That’s what life’s all about, right?

Photos: Sallie Funderburk


  1. I’m proud of you for taking the challenge. But we must all do it for the animals, and environment. Because both suffer immensely due to our food choices.

  2. It’s obvious from many aspects of your article that you aren’t prepared to really see what’s behind the food you eat and that’s why you really weren’t committed to changing. When you can see the objectification of other animals and the suffering that happens to create foods you accept as normal is when you will want to change and not be complicit in the suffering. That’s not being a Debbie Downer, that’s taking off the rosy glasses and working one meal at a time to make this world more humane. And you can do this while eating great food, just look at all the great vegan blogs and cookbooks! How did you miss those?

  3. This is ridiculous. It’s treating eating vegan like a fad or other diet, and it’s not. It really isn’t that hard if you truly have the moral and ethical drive to understand why eating vegan is beneficial in so many ways. Maybe have an actual vegan write an article about how to succeed at it and good tips for staying the course.

  4. Most important imo, salt is vegan! You can have all you want! As a vegan, your food looked really good to me. It’s not surprising that you felt out of whack making a sudden change like that. For people who really want to switch, I think it’s easier to cut out one animal product at a time. It’s easier on the body, as well as mentally and for making meals and eating out. Interesting article!

  5. If you try this again, you need to branch out to Vietnamese, Indian, Middle Eastern food. Millions of people worldwide are vegan or vegetarian due to culture, religion, cost of protein, availability, storage, or a combination of these reasons. Dairy is a scarce resource in 2/3 of the largest world populations. So there are lots of really fulfilling and very tasty foods out there that make it easy to be vegan. However, if you just drop your animal protein intake to perhaps twice a week, or add more fish, and minimize the dairy, you will be both healthy and satisfied. No guilt.

  6. First of all, despite what many are saying, kudos to you. For those of us who are vegan/vegetarian, the best thing we can do is praise and encourage even the smallest of steps. After all, even giving up drinking or smoking cold turkey (pun partially intended) can be extremely difficult if you’ve been doing it your entire life and have even been convinced by your friends, family and society that it is necessary. That is the same when giving up meat/dairy. We’ve been surrounded by messages & advertising telling us it is necessary, when anyone who has really researched the topic can tell you it really is not. That being said, like overcoming any ‘addiction’, the reward is at the end of the struggle. You have/had those cravings because you were still too close your ‘normal’ lifestyle. As someone now vegan for 7 months, I can say that it only gets easier with time – you lose your craving for the unnecessary/unhealthy foods, begin to crave healthier ones and develop a new routine which makes making healthy choices and living easier. Congrats on taking on that challenge, and hopefully even just a little bit of what you experienced and learned will stay with you!

  7. This was great! I loved your honesty and your attempt at trying something new. I agree with Chloe in that gradual change is often way more manageable than going all in at once. My s/o and I do a vegetarian night, a vegan night, and a special meat (like lamb, bison, etc) night just to keep things interesting and creative.

  8. First world problems. We have a myriad of amazing choices of foods to eat that don’t consist of chopped up baby animal parts. Honestly, Veganism is pretty easy if you consider the victim. What makes me sad about this article is you’ve made it look difficult, and that will turn people away, and THAT means more animals will be ground alive, debeaked, scalded alive, branded, have their tails docked, teeth clipped and will be castrated all without pain killers. They’ll be confined in a gestation crate so small they can’t turn around or move. Their bodies will be bred and made to produce litter after litter until their poor bodies are spent…at which point they will be chopped up for food. There are hundreds of resources on the internet, all with one click on your keyboard, and apps for your phone that tell you where and what to eat. So, please stop whining about how hard it is to go vegan for two lousy weeks…try being strapped to an airline seat for your entire life unable to move, have some empathy. A whole miserable life of suffering and death for a lousy moment of palate pleasure easily replaced with plants, hardly sounds fair, does it? Challenge22.com

  9. Ugh, haters gonna hate. ^^ Good for you for giving it a try! And despite the challenges, and the short duration of the experiment, it seems like you are continuing with some of the healthier habits like eating more veggies and spending time to cook more rather than eat out. I just tried a week of being vegan and it didn’t go that well because I was also trying to do 21 Day Fix (too much for me to do both) at the same time. And then, the dang snow storm that left me at home with 2 kids for 5 days. And here’s the other kicker. I am allergic to avocado. Wah wahhhh. So yeah, I stumbled a few times. I want to encourage you to look how you can maybe take a smaller step – maybe being vegan for 3 days out of the week, or just committing to cooking 2 new vegan dinners. Something like that. Anyway thanks for sharing and keep on going!

  10. I’m having trouble finding what part of this experiment was “somewhat of a disaster”. I think you did an awesome job making such significant changes in a short amount of time. One Chik-fil-a sandwich (or a half, in this case) and a sausage ball does NOT equal disaster. One of the biggest misunderstandings about veganism is that it’s all or nothing-it’s not. Aim for 80% plant-based when you’re first starting out and see where that takes you. I’m ashamed to tell you how long I ate pesto before I realized it had parmesan in it (ok fine it was years). A vegan lifestyle isn’t about guilt or looking over your shoulder for the “vegan police” to catch you doing something wrong. It’s about compassion and freedom for all beings, both animals and ourselves.

    • What do you know, a sane rational response! Wholeheartedly agree, Ensley. This lifestyle change is no easy feat, and the willingness to even start is admirable. Nowhere near a disaster. 🙂 Props for committing to something so rewarding!

  11. Exactly! She tried going plant based. Veganism is about justice and fairness for nonhuman animals, not a fad diet. Veganism isn’t about being judgy. If you perceive judgement, it’s probably your conscience speaking to you. Veganism is binary, you are or you aren’t. And Veganism isn’t about you (or me). It’s about animals. As Amy said, when you eliminate animal exploitation (not just from your diet, but also from your clothing and entertainment) because you care about animals, it’s pretty easy to do. Nobody is down for animal abuse. But we conveniently distance ourselves from the horrific lives animals are forced to lead for selfish human desires. Vegans have simply looked behind the curtain. I’m glad you gave plant based a try, though, you didn’t seem to do much research, thereby setting yourself up for failure. I hope you learn a little more about both plant based diets, AND Veganism. It’s the internet age, so there is an abundance of reliable information out there. Check out the South Florida Vegan Education Group.

    As for baby steps–while any change is good, baby stepping to stop contributing to animal abuse is hard for many vegans to be ok with. Would we be ok with someone baby stepping to not beating their child? Or raping and killing less? That the victims are not humans doesn’t make the atrocities any more acceptable. More animals are killed every year than all the human who have ever lived. If you’re uncomfortable with the comparison, it’s not surprising. Speciesism is deeply ingrained in all of us.

  12. I think it’s great that you tried this. Next time check out some of the amazing resources online to help you learn how to make the transition. A great on is tryveg.com. Also there is a great group in Charlotte that meets up once a month for a social called Charlotte Vegan Drinks. It is always held at different restaurants and they add great vegan options for the night!

    Even if you don’t stick with it learning how to reduce your meat and dairy consumption is the first step and you will find loads of health benefits from switching. Don’t beat yourself up but keep trying even if only one day a week at first.

  13. Love that you gave it a try but it’s important to realize that nothing is easy when you’re first figuring out the ropes! For example, a new job, workout regime, new habits, etc! But this is a good start, I recommend doing more research & diving into the wonderful world of veganism further! Even if you just try to eat vegan 1 meal or 1 day a week! Every effort helps!

  14. So proud of you for taking the plunge and trying something new! I was a vegetarian for 5 years and the hardest part was definitely the weekends or when I didn’t have something prepared. It’s okay to cave to cravings – we’re all human! Great article!