Vegan Challenge

Day 25: A Review of My Month as a Vegan

I’ve been MIA around here for awhile.  Life was getting busy and stressful and I diverted off my vegan diet for a couple of days.  I didn’t gorge myself on steak and chicken but I did allow sour cream, a little cheese here and there and a meal of sesame chicken one night.  I had a salad with some chicken on it earlier this week.  But for the most part I have stuck with my rules.  Yesterday, on Valentine’s Day, I did eat a chicken dish for supper and had a piece of peanut butter cup cake for dessert! 

I’m closing in on 28 days which is how long I had planned to eat vegan.  Here are a few things I have learned along the way: 
1)  I don’t really miss meat.   I was surprised by that but I really haven’t had cravings for meat.  I’ve craved ice cream but not meat!
2)  Cow’s milk….makes me sick on my stomach.  I’ve always had issues with intolerance to milk but this was definitely confirmed on Sunday.  After three weeks with no cow’s milk (other than a bowl of ice cream on Friday night), I had a small bowl of cereal at work with about half a cup of milk on it.  My stomach rumbled and gurgled and hurt the rest of the night. 
3)  It’s true that when you tell someone you eat vegan the very first thing they ask is, “How are you getting enough protein?”  I think people forget that there is protein to be found in a lot of things from beans, to spinach, to rice to peanut butter, to broccoli.  You do not need to eat animal products to get protein. 
4)  Most people think that they can not eat a vegan diet.  I’ve heard it all.  “I can’t give up chicken.”  “I can’t give up eggs.”  “I could be a vegetarian but I can not live without cheese.”  People think that veganism is such a drastic lifestyle.  If I wasn’t already eating a healthy diet before then I would also think it was drastic.  But honestly, I haven’t had a hard time with it.  
5)  A vegan diet does not equal weight loss.  In fact, I lost a couple of pounds this month but nothing drastic.  Again, I think this is because I was already eating healthy before.  If someone is eating processed foods, soda and snack foods several times a day then changing to a strict vegan diet will definitely cause some weight loss.
6)  A vegan diet requires a lot more cooking than I am used to.  I haven’t minded it too much but I have cooked a lot more this month than normal.
7)  Planning meals for the entire family when one person is a vegan and the others are not is very difficult.  This has been the most difficult aspect of this diet.  I feel bad if I don’t cook them supper but I refuse to make two meals every night.  Aaron will come home from work and cook something for all of them if they don’t like what I have fixed.  
8)  There are a lot of stereotypes out there about what vegans “look like.”  I’ve had people tell me that you can’t build muscle as a vegan, you can’t be an athlete if you’re vegan, and that most vegans are scrawny and underweight with pale skin and bags under their eyes.  While it is true that you have to make more of an effort to get your nutrients in as a vegan I still maintain that YES you can build muscle (google “vegan bodybuilding” for proof), you CAN be an athlete (anyone ever heard of Lance Armstrong?  Mike Tyson? Venus Williams?), and you can be healthy as a vegan (Alicia Silverstone, Paul McCartney, Ellen Degeneres, Toby Maguire, and Brad Pitt to name a few).  
Yes, it’s been a month of learning.  The most common question I get is, “Are you going to continue this at the end of the month?”  And I am to some extent.  I’m going to continue eating vegan meals for breakfast and lunch.  All my snacks will continue to be vegan friendly.  And most of my suppers will also be vegan.  I’m planning to introduce chicken and turkey back into my diet but don’t plan to eat pork or beef again any time soon.  I’ll continue making meatless meals for the family at least two nights a week.  On the other nights, I may have small portions of meat but my goal is to continue with a vegan diet at least 90% of the time.  So I guess I’ll be considered a “flexitarian” (an omnivore who predominantly eats a plant based diet but also eats animal meat occasionally).  
I’m convinced that this is the best way to prevent myself from developing heart disease and I am committed to doing whatever it takes to live a long and healthy life for my children.  They deserve a healthy mama!  
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