October 10, 2011

My First Week as a Vegan

Or, "What are the ingredients in this, please?"

I survived my first week (or 10 days to be exact) as a vegan!  And I'm happy to report that I'm not starving/dying/wasting away.  In fact, I'm feeling very full after eating a few spoonfuls of vegan chocolate chip cookie dough...oh come on, I know you ALL eat too much of the dough when baking cookies!!!  Anyways, I'm excited to fill you in on how the week has gone and give you a little background on why I decided to try out being vegan for 30 days.
The Why: 
(This is intended only to share my own thought processes, not to convince you to think or act the same way.)  When people ask why I'm a vegetarian, I tell them it's a combination of things--concerns about the environment, about my own health, and a general respect for life that makes me feel uncomfortable about the way animals are raised and slaughtered in our country.  In the past six months or so, the more I thought about it and the more I read, I realized that when it comes down to it, these same reasons are really reasons I should be a vegan.  Here's what I mean--I feel wrong about eating chicken because of the horrible factory farm conditions in which chickens are raised, but I eat eggs.  Not only are those chickens also raised in horrible conditions, but the egg industry ultimately results in just as many deaths as the poultry industry.  The same goes for dairy.  Not ready to make a shift to vegan (which is a big shift), I decided to commit to trying a vegan diet for 30 days during the month of October.

The What:
This month I will be abstaining from eating dairy, eggs, and honey in addition to fish, meat, and gelatin which I avoid at all times.  I will admit that I've made a few mistakes over the course of this first week!  I ate a whole wheat bagel after last weeked's 5K race, realizing afterward that it likely contained honey, and accidentally ate milk chocolate a few times without thinking about it.  It's a lot to remember!  But even just over the past few days, I've gotten more used to paying attention to what I'm eating and remembering to check ingredient labels.  I've also been, wait for it, COOKING!  Yes, me who eats oatmeal for dinner on a semi-regular basis.  I also wanted to try being vegan because I knew it would push me to cook and bake for myself more frequently.  So far, it definitely has!

The Eats:
Because I live alone, cooking one meal can mean that I end up eating it for a few days in a row, so I've only made a few different dinners so far.  Everything I've made, though, has been yummy!  Last weekend I made this delicious cashew-pineapple-veggie stirfry with quinoa, a recipe I modified from this recipe from Veganomicon.  I loved this dish and ate it at least 4 more times throughout the week it made so much!
Last Sunday one of my book club friends and I got together to continue the vegan joy with a baking day (oh and watching all three Twilight movies back to back...).  We made chocolate chip cookies using this recipe from Oh She Glows.  We substituted oats for the flax seeds and used all purpose flour instead of a WW/AP mix.  The cookies turned out DELICIOUS!  Nothing about them tasted "vegan," that's for sure.  I made another batch this morning because they were so good!
We also tried Mamma Pea's recipe for vegan pumpkin bars with dairy-free cream cheese icing.  Oh gosh.  So delicious.  The recipe made an entire tray full, and I've been devouring them all week long.  The texture was perfect--nice and moist (I hate that word but couldn't think of another one!)  I wouldn't mind a stronger pumpkin flavor, so I might put in a little extra next time.  Also loved the cream cheese frosting.  Again, you would never know these were vegan.
I also made some vegan pizza using a Trader Joe's WW pizza dough, marinara sauce, and some soy vegan cheese.  The cheese didn't melt very well, but it got soft in the oven at least and tasted great.

I also made a simple pasta dish this week with WW noodles, asparagus, snap peas, marinara sauce, and some fresh basil.  I sprinkled it with nutritional yeast for a cheesy-ish flavor.  I recently learned about nutritional yeast--it's not traditional baking yeast and is more like a seasoning.  It has a cheesy flavor, so it's used in vegan cooking sometimes to mimic a cheese taste.  I liked it!  Also, this weekend on my Michigan adventure, High School Friend and I cooked portabello mushroom caps, roasted cauliflower, and quinoa.  YUM!!!  Of course, for lunches and random snacks I've been eating my usual basic staples of hummus, pita, nuts, and veggies.  You just can't go wrong with that!
I'm looking forward to trying a few more recipes this week and will let you know how they go!

The Verdict:
It's easier being vegan than I expected!  Sure, it takes a LOT more thought and planning than being a regular veggie, but I imagine it only gets simpler with time.  After all, that's how it was for me when I transitioned to being a vegetarian.  A big reason I didn't try this out sooner was because I had a lot of reservations about the social effects of a vegan diet.  I worried about eating at others' houses, going out to dinner, and family holidays.  My diet is a personal choice, and I don't want it to be a burden on others, or annoying to others. So far I ahven't run into any real obstacles.  High School Friend M was a gracious host this weekend, cooking a quinoa and veggie dish for dinner my first night there and being open to trying some of the vegan food I brought with me.  We talked in advance about what she had in her pantry so I knew what to bring with--I packed a little cooler and a shopping bag with soy milk, Earth Balance "butter," hummus, almond butter, and dairy-free bread.  While visiting her, we went to one restaurant and it was as simple of checking the menu online before making our restaurant choice to make sure there was a vegan dish (or a dish that could be easily modified).  Simple!  When we worked up an appetite trekking around Grand Rapids all afternoon yesterday, I easily snagged a vegan snack at Starbucks--dried fruit and nuts mix + iced coffee with soy milk.
The to-die-for falafel wrap I found on the menu in Michigan.
Of course, there is a big difference between being a vegan every single day and being a vegan for the past 10 days.  It will be interesting to see how the rest of this month goes!

Any vegan recipe ideas for me?? I'll love you forever!


  1. CONGRATS!! I am sure you will feel even healthier and more energized as you continue. I've been vegan for about 10 months minus two very cheesey months when I gave into pregnancy cravings :o(
    I loooove Mama Pea recipes so if you are already into that I say keep doing what you're doing!

  2. yeah! you are doing awesome! and all the food looks SUPER YUMMY!!! keep it up friend!


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