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Reflections

That Time I Went Vegan for a Week

If you know me, I generally don’t eat much meat.  I’ve cut back heavily on my meat intake for about 2 years now, but I’m not vegetarian or vegan.  I still eat meat from time to time particularly when it comes to ethnic foods.  If you want to know why I’ve cut back on meat, you can scroll down to the last paragraph, otherwise, keep reading 🙂

I’ve been reading a lot about veganism as a lifestyle, and although I have inner conflicts about going completely vegan, I decided to challenge myself to eat vegan for a week.  No meat, no dairy, no eggs.  One reason is because I just wanted to learn more about it and immerse myself in it, and another reason is because I knew it would help me kick some other non-vegan cravings to the curb.  It’s been a transition.

Here’s a few things I’ve learned in the week that I thought would be interesting to share.

4 Surprisingly Great Things
1.  It’s easy – by easy I mean the meals are easier to prepare and cook.  Cleanup time is less.  Cooking time is less.  You don’t have to worry about cross-contamination.  It’s all around an easier process. Don’t know where to even start with a meal?  I used Pinterest and just searched “vegan meals” and browsed through the images to see what recipes might make most use of the ingredients I already had at home.
2.  It’s cheaper.  Cutting out meat, milk, and eggs, made all meals generally cheaper!
3.  You’ll feel lighter.  I noticed areas on my body already looked different after a week, most likely because I cut out dairy completely.  The bloat was gone.  I rarely felt BLAH like I would after a heavy meal with meat.
4.  You can find a lot of ethnic meals “veganized.”  It won’t taste exactly the same, but they’re still good.  I know people get weirded out by the thought of a vegan meal because they think it’s just kale and quinoa.  Not the case, AT ALL.

Portobello Fajitas.  Recipe here.  Salsa verde from our local Mexican supermarket.

3 Personal Challenges
1.  While meals were easy to prepare and eat, snacking was difficult, particularly any processed snacks.  It’s shocking how many snacks have animal by-products in them.  We had gummy snacks and M&Ms delivered to our office from other coworkers, and it wasn’t until after I had a few that I realized these were all non-vegan (gelatin in gummies and milk in milk chocolate).  I also couldn’t eat Hot Cheetos (my weakness) because there’s milk in it.  I had to bring fruits or nuts to snack on, otherwise I just couldn’t eat anything in the office (which was probably more beneficial to my health anyways).
2. Visiting my mom became a little depressing.  My mom sacrificed a lot in her life and one of her joys is just feeding her family.  She has cooked us home-cooked meals all our lives.  Knowing that I couldn’t eat her food and just give her the simple joy of her child enjoying her cooking broke my heart.  I cheated a little one day by eating rice and the veggies in a soup and avoided the fish that was cooked in it.
3. Vegan doesn’t just mean you can cut out your meat, eggs, and dairy and add tofu then be okay.  You have to learn the varieties of plant proteins and make sure you vary them to make sure you’re getting complete nutrition.  There’s actually a lot to learn to make sure you’re eating a well-rounded plant-based meal.  The good thing is, there’s plenty of options I wasn’t even aware about!  It really is a learning process.

Baked tofu from Trader Joe’s with baby broccoli.  Homemade teriyaki sauce dressing recipe here.

Before this, I’d say about 60-70% of my meals each week were already vegan, but I’m planning it to be more like 80-90% now.  When it comes to food, I’m basically vegan when it comes to American food. One really great thing that came out of my research is that I’m learning more about the overall lifestyle which includes avoiding purchasing items that have animal products in them and/or are tested on animals.  It’s incredible how much we buy is harming animals around the world and even our environment.  I’ve really had to take a few steps back and look at all of the products in our home, and I probably would’ve never realized it had I not challenged myself to learn more about veganism.

I know there will be vegans disappointed that I haven’t gone completely vegan, but I also think creating a movement to reduce animal product intake altogether is important too.  I’m pretty sure nearly all of my friends wouldn’t even consider cutting out meat from their life.  Would they cut back?  That’s much more likely, and that still makes a huge difference on so many levels.

For most of you, you’re probably reading this and thinking “Why on earth does Vy even bother to cut back on meat?  We’ve eaten meat since the dawn of time.”  It’s not really about whether or not it’s bad for our bodies (it is to a degree, but that’s a separate conversation), but it’s about the big picture.  Did you know that factory farms produce more methane than all of our gas-powered modes of transportation COMBINED?  Every dollar you spend on meat tells the factory farms how much they need to expand or cut back on their activity.  By cutting back on meat, you reduce your carbon footprint.  You reduce the cruelty that is happening at the farms.  You reduce your chances of heart disease.   There are only benefits to cutting back on meat.  This really is just the tip of the iceberg, but if I have struck your curiosity at all, there’s some great documentaries you can catch on Netflix that are eye-opening and very thought-provoking.  I recommend Forks Over Knives, Vegucated, and Cowspiracy.  If you happen to watch any of these, I’d love to know what you think!

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