I am closing in on one full month of eating a vegan diet. I have a lot of health reasons that caused me to make the change. I'll spare the details of that but trust me that this was not a decision based on vanity. I hope that nobody adopts a vegan "diet" hoping to lose weight. I'm sure there are much easier ways. I had come to a point where I just really wanted to feel good and I was so close to eating in this manner anyway that it just seemed natural to go the last part of the way. I've slowly started reframing thoughts such as "I can't eat chicken." to "I chose to not eat chicken and live a healthier life". It's funny how the things that you think will be hard become non-issues. For example, I love chocolate and assumed I wouldn't be eating it anymore. It's called milk chocolate for a reason, right? Well, I'm glad to report that I have been enjoying chocolate. It's just that it is high quality chocolate made without fillers of milk or milk fat found in most commercial chocolates. One of my favorite recipes right now are chocolate chip oatmeal cookies. They are free of white flour, refined sugar, and dairy but they taste fabulous! I also just found a great cookbook that has so many creative ways to make ingredients including...drum roll...Caesar dressing. So, the more time I spend (and it's only been a month) the better and easier it gets.
My two fave vegan books right now:
Ok, so I don't want to sound preachy but here are some (unsolicited) thoughts on what it has meant to give up the following:
Chicken- I had never prepared red meat at home and only seldom ate it out in restaurants. I occasionally cooked chicken at home but out in restaurants it was usually by fall back food. At least prepared in home have some control about where the chicken came from and how it was raised. Eating out in a chain restaurant leaves little opportunity to doubt how bad a short life the chicken led. It led a very fearful, stressed life and I truly believe that I was consuming that stress and fear which did nothing to help my health.
Eggs- I never eat eggs-scrambled, fried, omelet-yuck. I also amuse my friend by picking the egg chunks out of Pad Thai. Since I never have had fresh eggs in the house I have for years used an alternative when I need to use an egg for baking. Long before thoughts of vegan were dancing in my head I have used a heaping tablespoon full of soy flour mixed with a bit of water. That substitutes for an egg. I'm also starting to learn of other completely suitable egg substitutes, such as, who knew, pumpkin puree. In large egg factories (Decoster anyone?) the male chicks (who will not be of any egg producing value) are taken at birth and flung into a trash can where they are piled on one another and left to die.
Milk- I've never drank milk by the glass. Even as a child I couldn't stand it. Lately I've read articles from several different sources about how unnatural it is for humans to drink cow's milk. We are the only species who even drinks milk into adulthood. We are also, of course, the only species that drinks the milk of another species. And when we complain of having gastro issues and lactose intolerance we switch to specialty products rather than just admit that drinking cow's milk might not be healthy. My whole life I've used milk only as a mix in with other products so this was an easy one to cut. I've been using almond milk in smoothies and it tastes just fine. I've read that I should be able to substitute almond milk into any baked good that asks for milk but I haven't actually tried this out yet.
Cheese- Ok, this one is tough. I love a nice cheese pizza or fresh shavings of Parmesan on pasta. The fact that cheese substitutes are dismal doesn't help much. So, for now I am simply going without. I thought I would miss out on Little Debbie snack cakes but my worst moment so far was walking in Whole Foods last weekend and smelling the strong, robust scent of a nice cheese.
Ok, enough of that. I'm off to enjoy my lunch of leftover Cashew Nut Roast which was sooo yummy last night :)