Yep, vegan. I’ve always been a little curious about veganism. I’ve known a few vegans in my life, and they all think it’s the best thing ever. They say how good they feel, how much energy they have, how they lost weight, and how healthy it is. I always thought it may be healthy, I know I could use some more veggies in my life, but I feel good, I don’t have any health problems, and I’m not overweight. So why give up cheese? I mean, cheese people! Is there anything better? So I went as far as becoming vegetarian five days a week, but that was it.
Then, Jen from Lita’s world wrote a post about the 21-day Vegan Kickstart and I thought I could give that a try. Why not? It’s only 3 weeks, I could always stop during it if I hated it or at the end if I decided it wasn’t for me.
I started a day late because we were on vacation, but I’ve now been vegan for 2 weeksand I’m loving it! I’m actually surprised. I do have more energy and I feel great. I mean great! I didn’t realize I was feeling a little bloated and sluggish until I changed to an entirely plant based diet. (Full disclosure, I have cheated a little. We had some oatmeal raisin cookies in the house that I’m sure had eggs and milk in them, and I ate them. However, they are now gone, so no more cheating. No one’s perfect.)
It isn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be. The recipes on the kickstart site are easy and yummy. There are so many substitutions readily available in the grocery store, so there’s not much I’m losing. I was already using soy butter (I use Smart Balance and can’t taste the difference). I use rice milk on my cereal. I like the unsweetened the best for my cereal, it tastes the most like the fat free milk I was using before. When I put fruit on my cereal I can’t even taste the difference. Soy ice cream is really good. It tastes a little less creamy than ice cream but a little more creamy than frozen yogurt. I’m going to buy some egg substitute for baking. I’ve even been using tofu. Sunday I made a tofu scramble and it was really good.
I was a little concerned when I started that I would be missing out on some of my favorite things (you know, sweets and junk food), but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by all the delicious vegan recipes. I made Banana Oat French Toast Saturday. It was so good! My girls loved it! And we have been eating a lot of the Chocolate Raspberry Mousse. Yep, made out of tofu. My girls think they’ve died and gone to heaven. Even better, I don’t need to feel guilty about eating them, they’re actually nutritious and low fat. Oh, and I can eat a lot more volume since it’s all low calorie. In fact, I need to eat a pretty high volume since I’ve lost 2 pounds in 2 weeks with almost no exercise (it’s been a hectic two weeks) and eating all the time.
The first week, my body was definitely adjusting or detoxing or something. I was so thirsty, I drank tons of water (probably a good thing, since I was eating a lot more fiber) and I was soooo hungry. I just ate non-stop. I’m eating a little less frequently now, but still more than I was before. I eat 3 meals and 2-3 snacks a day right now. And by snack I mean like pita bread and hummus, or a bagel with peanut butter and some fruit. Really, it’s more like 5-6 meals a day. I am still breastfeeding, so I’m sure that has something to do with the ravenous appetite.
In addition to the health benefits and the weight loss, there’s the environmental benefits. Since livestock production is the biggest contributor to green house gas emissions, more so than even cars, eating less meat means less green house gases. There’s also the animal rights benefits. Nothing is killed for me to eat.
The down side, I do like a hamburger every once in a while. I’m trying to figure out if I’ll give myself an occasional cheat on that. I’m also trying to figure out how to deal with holidays. I’m not so concerned about me getting something to eat as I am about offending someone who took the time to cook a delicious meal or making someone stress about what they’re going to have for me to eat. There’s also the cheese. I’m really not that into meat most of the time, so I don’t miss that. But I love cheese. Really love cheese. And vegan cheese sucks. Trust me, don’t even try it. I’m pretty sure the people who think vegan cheese is good and resembles regular cheese in any way, haven’t had real cheese in at least 5 years. I have found that hummus gives me the creaminess I miss, but I don’t get that melt-y gooey-ness anywhere else.
The other issue is my family is not even vegetarian. I won’t impose that on them. Sean likes meat. That’s fine. I’m new enough to this vegan thing that I don’t want my kids to do it in case I’m not providing enough protein or calcium or something for their development. Also, they won’t eat a lot of the veggies. I hope they will in the future, especially if I keep offering it, but I don’t want them hungry all the time. I also don’t want them to grow up with a restrictive diet. I want them to go to birthday parties and have pizza, cake, and ice cream and not have to say they don’t eat dairy. When they’re older, if they make the decision themselves and are willing to eat the necessary foods to get proper nutrition, I’ll support that decision. But right now, they have a lot of growing to do and I don’t want to get in the way of that. So, I’m making 2 meals sometimes. It’s not too much of a pain right now. I make a big batch and eat leftovers a lot, but we’ll see how that goes.
Any experienced vegans out there who know what to do about the cheese situation? Have you ever considered becoming vegan?