Day 30 – What’s next?
I did it! Vegan for 30 days. I feel great and am incredibly proud. And for the record, I did it way before Oprah. Being vegan opened my eyes to how many animal products I used to consume. I hadn’t noticed how much dairy I was eating… a couple coffees, dinner at a restaurant (prepared with butter), eggs in the pasta, eggs in the bread, yogurt for breakfast, it all adds up.
After reading different articles and books including The China Study (thank you @blakebrody for the loaner, I swear you’ll get it back), I feel bad that I always called my mom crazy when she gave me that disapproving look and said “That has _____ in it, it’s not good for you.” Fill in the blank with “high fructose corn syrup”, “aspartame”, “caramel color”, “red meat”, “red dye”, “blue dye”, “artificial X”, “preservatives”, the culprits are endless. This was usually followed by a monologue on how the ingredient causes cancer.
My mom has always been ahead of her time when it comes to health. She’s a nurse and as I’ve mentioned, an amazing cook. In fact, why isn’t she writing this blog? Between her and my crafty, farming dad, I must have been the healthiest kid in Maine. I grew up on pure, natural ingredients. Apples, grapes, strawberries, asparagus, cucumbers, carrots, sugar snap peas, watermelons, maple syrup, you name it, we made it. (My dad could grow fruit in the desert. Evidently green thumbs are not genetic because I’ve successfully killed cactus and other “invincible” plants.)
Everything was homemade from the moment I was born (breast-milk aside). My mom made her own baby food by pureeing things like spinach in the blender. Nothing jarred or canned ever touched these lips. At a very young age, I learned how amazing fresh ingredients taste, the benefits of cooking from scratch, and the dangers of artificial preservatives/ingredients. And although I never cooked as a child, it definitely made me who I am today so I’m eternally grateful for growing up with parents that emphasized the importance of what we put in our bodies. I guess it all sunk in afterall. Thanks mama & papa. Sorry I called you crazy, but I’m sure that won’t be the last time.
Why did I do this? Ah, this question came up almost every time I told someone what I was doing. My answer? FOR ME! After eating a mostly vegetarian diet, I was curious about becoming vegan. Of course I also did it because I’m an animal lover. I mean, look at this face!
Food Inc. changed me for life, but my primary concern is my health, and of course, the health of those around me. I did become more aware of my food choices and how they impact my own body, the lives of animals and the environment around us. So my reason for doing it is really 3-fold, but I technically fall into the “dietary vegan” category vs. the “ethical vegan”.
As I researched other vegan blogs/articles on Twitter, I was disheartened by some negative comments (not directed at me, but general comments) bashing people doing “vegan challenges” or “trial periods”. This really chaps my *ss. I think it’s great if ANYONE tries being vegan for ANY amount of time. If it’s a day (hello, Meatless Mondays??), a week, a meal, it’s a journey for someone working towards a common goal and should be embraced with the same compassion deserved of all walks of life.
The kindest note I received was from @VeganTweeter who said …”a ‘trial’ or ‘experiment’ is how many lifelong vegans start out”. That really struck a chord with me. I wasn’t sure where this path would lead 30 days ago, but now I feel I’ve only touched the surface of being vegan. Since I’m a dietary vegan, I do still have some clothing made from animals so maybe some will say I’m not a “true vegan” then. And yes I do recognize the hypocrisy of not eating animals but wearing them. But isn’t it better to do something than nothing at all?
Am I going to keep the blog going? You betcha! I absolutely love blogging, but I’m thinking about changing the name. More on that later.
The big question…Am I staying vegan? YES I am! Dining out is definitely the most challenging. I’m a big foodie and love to try all the new restaurants, but even the vegetarian dishes like pasta are usually not vegan since pasta is typically made with eggs. I will try to eat as vegan as I can, but if there are times when the best I can do is vegetarian, than that’s what I’ll be if you have to label it.
That said, I was pleasantly surprised that restaurants like Little Giant can be so accommodating, and I’m optimistic that as more people turn to plant-based diets, dining out will not only become easier, but chefs will be preparing more unique and amazing vegan-friendly dishes. Tonight I celebrated at Blossom with a glass of Malbec, arugula salad & seared seitan with porcini sauce. And after that, ran across the street to Cocoa V for a cupcake. Life is sweet!
Thanks for reading this past month. Stay tuned for more recipes, restaurants, fitness information and other vegan adventures.
What’s your story? Why did you decide to be vegan? Are you a dietary vegan or an ethical vegan? Or other? 🙂 Please share!! Thinking of going vegan? Here are some items I found essential to have on hand to help you get started. If you have other starter kit ideas you want to share, please do! Sharing is caring, people.
Vegan Starter Kit (Organic)
Dairy-free milk (almond, hemp seed, cashew, soy etc)
Onions/Carrots/Celery basic essentials for soups, stir frys etc
Beans (variety of either canned or dried, whatever you like and have access to – cannelini, garbanzo, black beans)
Variety of leafy green vegetables fresh and frozen (kale, collard greens, spinach) & baby spinach, romaine for salads
Variety of snacking fruits (whatever is in season that you like)
Nuts (whatever you like) tip: store nuts in the fridge so they don’t go bad
Peanut butter or almond butter
Tahini (or make your own with sesame seeds)
Frozen shelled edamame
Whole grains (millet, farro, quinoa, brown rice, sticky brown rice, seeded/sprouted bread, polenta, soba noodles, whole grain pasta, brown rice wraps or tortillas) tip: store rice, seeded grains/breads in the freezer so they don’t go bad
Corn to make popcorn
Good olive oil, canola oil, toasted sesame oil
Fresh herbs (parsley is a good staple)
Equipment I can’t live without: Vitamix or other commercial grade blender
Lastly, below are a few of my favorite discoveries from this past month as I explored the world through vegan eyes.
New Vegan Discoveries