My 30-Day Vegan Challenge has officially reached its conclusion. As I continue to educate myself on food choices, I see myself leaning towards the vegan lifestyle but I don’t think I can ever call myself a “vegan”. I prefer the term “vegan-ish”. We’ll see what happens as my education progresses.
In the meantime, I have to admit that I was already dreaming about the cheesy spinach artichoke dip I would eat after the challenge ended. Well, last night was the night. And it was delicious.
Now that I got that out of my system, my plan is to still avoid dairy as much as possible. Everything in moderation. For me, that does not include meat. Frankly, I have no craving for it whatsoever.
I can’t say that I definitely felt a big difference physically, although my energy level seemed a bit higher. Mentally, it felt great except for that hiccup in the third week.
All in all, I’m very glad I did it and look forward to further exploring the world of food and nutrition.
Only four more days left in my “Vegan Challenge” and I have to confess something: I ate a bite of fish last week. I don’t know what was going on with my metabolism but last week was extremely challenging due to my unquenchable appetite. I was feeling constantly hungry! It was very strange because I felt nothing like that the first two weeks of the challenge. Actually, the first two weeks seemed effortless and easy. The third week? Not so much. Hence, the bite of fish…….It just looked so good!
Other than that incident (and my birthday dessert eating) I’ve been pretty solid. But I’d by lying if I didn’t admit that I’ve started having fantasies about the much revered spinach-artichoke cheese dip I’d like to sink my teeth into the day after my challenge ends.
So here I am in the last week. I’m feeling good and not as hungry as I was last week. I’m actually starting to really like the Daya cheese, particularly as a melted grilled cheese sandwich. I also tried it on a pizza and it was yummy! I still love tempeh, although tofu is starting to piss me off a bit. I did make a tofu cream sauce in the first week that was pretty damn good though.
I think cheese has been the one thing I’m most challenged by. The other night I made a vegan queso in hopes of capturing some of that yummy cheeziness I’ve been missing. The recipe basically involved flour, nutritional yeast and some spices. I went ahead and added chopped onion, some salsa and a can of black beans. It was kinda good the night I made it but barely good the next day. In its defense, however, It did have the texture and consistency of real queso. That helped. One thing this Challenge has helped me realize is how important a role texture plays in our eating experience. Having the right texture helps a lot.
More commentary coming later in the week (after I complete my Vegan Challenge).
Well, here I am at Day 12 of my vegan challenge. There have been some moments. One of those moments was when we went out with friends for dinner on my birthday. There were not many vegan options. I ended up getting a butternut squash and veggie dish which, by the way, cost $20.00! Huh?
When time for dessert rolled around, I decided I would take a small break from my challenge in honor of my birthday and have whatever dessert I wanted. So I guess, technically, I’ve cheated. Oh well. It was my birthday, damnit.
There was one other slip-up earlier in the week. I was making veggie tostadas with refried black beans and Morningstar meat substitute crumbles. Turns out, they contain egg AND milk. Of course, I didn’t read the label until I had already prepared the meal. To be honest, I’m not very impressed with the Morningstar brand. I used to buy their buffalo non-meat chicken tenders until I actually looked at the label on it. In addition to containing egg and milk, there’s also this stuff:
Last night we had some friends over for a Vegan potluck. I made some delicious maple-garlic glazed tempeh meatballs and sweet potato fries. For dipping the fries, I also made some super easy cashew cream. We also had a beet, carrot, garbanzo and avocado salad and corkscrew pasta. It was all yummy!
I must share the birthday card my husband gave me from my two-year old. I think the front photo says it all:
Yes, toddler-care has given me a whole new appreciation for wine and mothers of twins.
So, today a friend and I started the 30-Day Vegan Challenge. I thought it would be a good idea to document the next thirty days here as a “journal” of this experience.
The idea of going vegetarian has been something percolating in my brain for years but I never really found the determination to go all out with it. I’ve never been a huge meat-eater and would cook around 3-4 veggie dinners a week. Honestly, I’ve never enjoyed cooking with meat, particularly chicken. Vegan was something I never really considered until this last year as I began to slowly educate myself about my food choices. Even still, going “vegan” always seemed like such a radical idea to me. For me, the thought of living without cheese was inconceivable!
Then I had a good friend introduce me to the challenge. This, along with other factors I won’t go into right now, convinced me that going vegan for 30 days is absolutely do-able!
So, here is what I ate (and discovered) on my first day of getting all vegany:
Breakfast: oatmeal the real deal. Not the instant stuff. I usually eat oatmeal cooked with soy milk for breakfast anyway so this was not a change for me at all. My big worry for mornings was the half and half I usually put in my coffee. Coffee in the morning is non-negotiable-I must have it. I had tried soy milk creamers in the past and found them leaving much to be desired, so I was a little worried. But! I discovered that coconut milk creamers works great and I don’t even miss the half and half. Yep. It’s that good as a dairy creamer replacement. Phew! Lunch: toasted tostada with refried black beans, topped with tomato, avocado, non-dairy cheese and salsa verde. A word about non-dairy cheese: this was my first time trying not-cheese. I went with a brand recommendation from my vegan friend and bought “daiya” cheddar style wedge (“deliciously dairy free”, according to the front of the package). It wasn’t terrible and it does melt well, giving it a very similar texture to the real thing but I would recommend using it sparingly on food. This is kinda weird but the taste actually reminded me of Cheese Whiz or that crappy cheese they put on nachos at the movie theatres. I checked out the ingredients in the daiya “cheese” and they seemed innocuous enough. That got me wondering what exactly is in Cheese Whiz? Turns out, my not-cheese and Cheese Whiz share at least one ingredient: annatto. This is a plant used for coloration. Does it also influence the taste? Hmm… Dinner: Poblano-stuffed peppers with salad. The stuffing included short-grain organic brown rice, corn, black beans, soyrizo, sautéed onions and garlic. The stuffing was great but the poblano peppers were HOT. In fact, they were too hot for me to eat so I just ate the stuffing. It’s really interesting what you find when you start reading labels. I went and grabbed my balsamic vinaigrette dressing for my salad and decide to double-check the ingredients label. Turns out “Cucina Antica’s” balsamic dressing contains milk. Would have never guessed.
So there it is- my first eating day as a vegan. It wasn’t too difficult and I’m beginning to think the lack of cheese won’t be as hard as I thought. Although, it did take some concerted effort not to graze on the cheese I was grating for my husband’s and stepson’s peppers. It just comes so naturally!