Happy 30 day Veganversary to me!

1 Feb

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!

simon. a.k.a. the cutest dog on the planet

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!

tofutti cream cheese frosted chocolate cupcake

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)

Tofu

Tempeh

Tamari

Dairy-free milk (almond, hemp seed, cashew, soy etc)

Baby carrots

Hummus

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)

Avocado

Lemons/limes

Garlic

Hot sauce

Variety of leafy green vegetables fresh and frozen (kale, collard greens, spinach) & baby spinach, romaine for salads

Cucumbers

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)

Peeled Snacks

Frozen shelled edamame

Daiya

Liquid Amino Acids

Nutritional Yeast

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

Earth Balance

Good olive oil, canola oil, toasted sesame oil

Mirin

Fresh herbs (parsley is a good staple)

Bananas

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

The Kind Diet

1,000 Vegan Recipes Cookbook

Blossom New York

Coco V

Vegan Tweeter

Happy Herbivore

Fitness Motivation

new in-studio footwear by Blake Brody

soul cycle

bar method soho

power pilates

movement studio LA

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7 Responses to “Happy 30 day Veganversary to me!”

  1. the RA Vegan February 2, 2011 at 9:18 pm #

    As a dietary vegan it’s sort of funny…. Some vegans consider me “less vegan” because I did this specifically to reduce the swelling from my Rheumatoid Arthritis. But in my decidedly un-vegan world the fact that I am a dietary vegan seems more acceptable than an ethical vegan (because it’s seen that I didn’t have a choice; I have to take care of my health). But I believe, as you said, that anything that moves us towards a healthier and less meat dependent situation is good. Having some meatless meals as omnis is a good thing. Of course I am not an all or nothing person, and I am very “live and let live.” As an extra bonus, though, I have noticed that I have been having conversations about veganism with lots of people who have never had that conversation before. People are comfortable asking me questions about what I eat and/or where I shop. It opens up the conversation even more. Congrats on fulfilling your commitment to yourself and looking forward to reading more!

    • chelsea February 3, 2011 at 9:24 pm #

      @theRAvegan – thanks for your kind, supporting words. It’s wonderful to hear that veganism is making its way to the forefront of conversation these days. Although I’m not a huge Oprah fan, I did record her segment this week and am happy that she is using her power to spread the word. She has such a loyal following that hopefully this will help increase awareness about our country’s eating habits and the effects on our bodies, the lives of animals, and our shared environment. I have to say, I got teary eyed when they went into the factory and that wasn’t even anywhere near as horrifying as the ones showed in Food Inc. I could see myself moving towards a completely vegan lifestyle in the future but for now, I’m focusing on diet and making sure I’m eating well balanced, healthy meals. thanks for reading! I’m curious, was a vegan diet recommended to you by a doctor to help with RA or were you researching alternative treatments on your own?

      • the RA Vegan February 5, 2011 at 9:04 am #

        Chelsea: I did quite a bit of research on my own after the diagnosis. Double blind studies including food are notoriously difficult to conduct, so there aren’t many. There is one study out of Sweden where half the people ate a traditional but low fat diet, and half ate a gluten-free vegan diet. Those who ate the vegan & gluten-free diet had less inflammation and lower cholesterol levels. One of the side effects of RA is a higher risk of heart disease, so reducing my cholesterol levels is a good thing. While I cannot definitively tell you that my inflammation is lower since going vegan, my blood sugar levels and cholesterol levels are the best they have ever been. I feel better overall, which means I can deal with the RA issues a little better. At the end of the day I want to be able to say I did *everything* I could to deal with this. I have a slightly rare symptom of RA which involves my vocal chords swelling and therefore losing my voice. The long term effects of that could be devastating to me as a teacher so I am trying all I can do…

  2. pamela lewy February 2, 2011 at 10:16 am #

    Congrats Chelsea!! Yay!! Can’t wait to keep reading!

    • chelsea February 2, 2011 at 11:55 am #

      @pam – thank you!!!!! great seeing you this morning at Power Pilates. Glad to have my Wednesday buddy. we HAVE to get a dinner date set. I’ll email you.

  3. thebitchlorette February 2, 2011 at 8:45 am #

    Lady, you rock! Seriously. Congratulations!!! What an achievement! Thanks for the tips. I’ll totally stock up on all those items when we get to LA. Not to be cheesy, but you’ve really touched me. Why eat something with legs when you can eat something from the earth? Even a cupcake… why NOT get a vegan one over a buttercream filled fatty patty? I always feel healthier when I eat vegan. And yes, Simon’s monkey face is worth giving up meat for.

    • chelsea February 2, 2011 at 11:54 am #

      @thebitchlorette – THANK YOU, THANK YOU for the kind words. Really appreciate all your support this past month. You are a good guinea pig too. Thanks for trying (and liking the rice crispy treats). 🙂 What am I going to do when you leave me? 😦 I know… fly to LA!!!

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