Vegan, Vegan, Everything Vegan

Let’s take a break from our regularly scheduled book reviews to chat about some life changes I’ve had in the past year. Really, just one lifestyle change.

In December of last year, I decided to try going vegan for the month of January. I found out a week or so later that this is actually a thing called Veganuary. You know how you think of something brilliant then find out it’s been a thing forever? Kind of takes the wind out of your sails, but this program meant I had some sort of support and, more importantly, a sweet name to use when I explained to people what I was doing.

I didn’t want this to seem like a New Year’s resolution because it really wasn’t. What I knew was that vegan diets are great for your health, your skin, etc. I was a vegetarian for ages in high school and college, finally falling off the wagon shortly before receiving my degree. Even as a vegetarian, I never expected to go vegan for the same reason most people think they can’t go vegan: cheese. Macaroni and cheese is the ultimate comfort food for me. I absolutely loved smothering anything I ate in cheese, and I couldn’t image living without it. Makes sense, because as it turns out cheese is legitimately addicting.

Going into the challenge, I already had a few factors on my side.

  1. I’d been a vegetarian for a very long time, so meat was extremely easy for me to give up. I already know all the great vegan substitutes for meat, and sometimes dairy. Peppered Tofurky sandwiches with veganaise, Field Roast sausages, and Gardein burgers are long time favorites of mine since.
  2. I knew to expect some gentle, and not so gentle, ribbing from friends and family. A lot of people love giving vegetarians and vegans shit. Their arguments are all the same, their cries of “but what about bacon?” are nothing new. It’s really good to know how to handle all of this going into a diet change.
  3. I’d done all my research before. I knew how to get enough protein, what supplements I’d probably need, how to get enough iron, etc. This can be extremely daunting when you’re starting out, so already knowing all this was helpful.
  4. I know how to cook. I cook 2-3 times a day. I love doing it, I love the prep work, I love going to the store and checking out new ingredients, etc. For someone who doesn’t like to cook, being vegan becomes a little more challenging. You can’t just grab McDonalds, you generally have to make yourself something. There are freezer options for the lazy, but fast food is pretty much off the table with a few exceptions, so loving to cook and knowing how to are really good skills to have.

I started slowly taking meat, dairy, and eggs out of my diet in December, then I said goodbye to meat in the form of some seriously tasty chicken wings on New Year’s Eve. When the clock struck 2017, I was officially a vegan. I’d made a vegan seven layer dip especially for the occasion, giving myself something to snack on for the rest of the night.

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Non dairy Ben and Jerry’s ice cream

Veganuary itself went extremely well. I had a great time veganizing my favorites, trying new brands, and showing my husband how easy it is to eat delicious plant based meals. I’ll sprinkle some pictures of our typical fare throughout this blog post.

I noticed a few normal changes from the beginning. I felt better after eating because I wasn’t unbelievably full of heavy, rich foods. I was always less bloated because I wasn’t eating dairy and I’ve pretty much always known dairy and I do not agree, but it was too good for me to stop eating it until I decided to try veganism. I felt a lot better about eating ethically. As an animal lover, I’ve always found that eating meat really conflicted with my personal beliefs, but when I fell off the wagon and started eating meat again I kind of pushed it to the back of my mind and tried to forget everything I know about industrialized farming. It was just selfishness.

Toward the end of the month I was seeing even more benefits. I’d lost a little weight. I was waking up earlier and more refreshed. I always felt ready to take on the day. I even found that my medication, which is guaranteed to make you feel drowsy and sluggish, wasn’t affecting me anymore.

 

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Gardein Beefless and Follow Your Heart American slices

But the most exciting benefit was my skin’s overall appearance. I’ve always struggled with random breakouts, especially around my chin. I spent tons of time covering up little bumps and redness around my mouth. Since I changed my diet, I haven’t seen a lot of breakouts popping up, and my redness has subsided quite a bit. My skin also looks great. It’s very glowy and smooth. I frequently go out with no foundation or tinted moisturizer on, which I was never able to do before going vegan. These days, I’ll just conceal any under eye darkness and off I go.

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Mac and cheese, Cincinnati chili, and spring rolls at Loving Hut

Of course there’s been some down sides. Going out to eat is a real drag. I’m sure holidays are going to be just as bad. I still get some shit from people, but you let it roll off your back. The thing that’s helped me the most through my transition has been my husband. He’s been incredibly supportive, loves the food I’ve been making, and is generally happy to have a vegan wife.

 

At some point, probably around mid-January, I decided

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Thai curry noodle soup

that once Veganuary ended I would probably not be going back. I still don’t think I’ll be going back. Every day, I make and eat delicious vegan food. It makes me feel great and I don’t really miss anything. Since going vegan, I’ve been able to replace the things that I missed. For example, mac and cheese was my ultimate comfort food until I discovered the joys of thai curry noodle soup, which I shit you not I eat basically every day for lunch. We’ve also discovered the Loving Hut in our area, which is the absolute bomb and my new favorite restaurant. They have the most delicious vegan mac and cheese for when I need a little creamy comfort.

If you’ve ever considered going vegan, or vegetarian, or cutting things out of your diet, try it for 30 days. We all say there’s no way we could do that, but you never know until you try!

 

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