So, how am I doing so far on this 21-day vegan challenge? I’m doing good. I can say with confidence that I have learned a lot about myself and my eating habits through this exercise. The challenge has not been to simply change my diet but instead how changing my diet has affected my health, cooking habits, eating habits and my perspective on the vegan lifestyle. Some of the things I’ve learned are random, like for example some BBQ flavored chips have natural milk and chicken flavoring in its ingredients. Other things I’ve learned are more relevant, like learning about B12 and how important consuming this little vitamin is for our body’s proper function. I’ve learned about the vegetarian and vegan communities: their blogs, hangouts, favorite products and vehemence for food.
As a practicing vegan, I am always thinking about food. I have to constantly plan out my meals to make sure that wherever I go there will either be vegan options available or a place to store and stash my homemade vegan food for when mealtime comes around. I find the most difficult settings to be a vegan are at a restaurant or at another person’s house. Luckily when you go to another person’s house for dinner for example, it is polite to bring something, so there is always the opportunity to bring something vegan over. Going out to dinner is more difficult if you don’t have any say in where to go. Asian and Mexican cuisine have been my safest bets for having vegan options while going out to brunch is an absolute nightmare. Now while being a flexible vegan can be stressful, proper planning helps with the stress a lot.
Cooking has been so fun and I love how diverse I have gotten in my cooking skills. I never gave much thought towards vegetarian and vegan chefs until now. I always assumed vegan food meant dry, tasteless, failed attempts at making “fake” food taste as decent as “real” food. After trying out veganism for almost 2 weeks, I know that if any dishes had the most flavor in it, it would make sense that the dish be vegan. Fresh fruits, vegetables and grains have bursts of real natural flavor that mother nature gave them. Looking back at the many dairy and meat products that I ate, I can now see are the food imitations. Think about what you see on the ingredient list of deli meat or cheese, most cookies, crackers and chips, frozen meals and breakfast bars. The ingredients list is usually pretty long and/or the ingredients are actually chemicals that you can’t even pronounce. If the food is good enough for you from the start, why add all these extra flavorings, additives, shelf life enhancers? Now I’m not saying that vegan food options aren’t processed as well. What being vegan has forced me to do, however, is look at every label, nutritional information and ingredients list of almost every product I pick up. I need to make sure I’m consuming foods that have plenty of protein in them, possible vitamin and/or mineral supplements, no dairy, egg or meat traces in every product I consume. I have learned a lot just from reading that information because I never used to do it.
Now I am beginning the book entitled Becoming Vegan: The Complete Guide to Adopting A Healthy Plant-Based Diet by Brenda Davis, R.D. and Vesanto Melina, M.S., R.D.. I had been recommended the book and the reviews were very high when I looked it up on amazon.
Now I will admit that while I have stayed strong, I have met a few bumps in the road meaning I haven’t been 100% perfect. There have been a few honest mistakes and one temptation that I wasn’t able escape from (a few bites of bagel, lox and cream cheese at Yom Kippur’s break fast). Even with these temporary lapses I believe I have made great strides and I hope you are feeling the same way my fellow vegan challengers. Keep staying strong. I will post another great vegan recipe this week.
I’m not going to pretend that this doesn’t make my mouth water, but I can say no. So NO, NO, NO please stop looking so tasty. I mean it!