Definition of VEGAN
: a strict vegetarian who consumes no animal food or dairy products
Going vegan is something that I have contemplated off and on for awhile now, and so I have decided to accept the challenge of going vegan for 30 days to see what comes of it. As most of you know, I am completely dairy free due to Scarlet’s milk allergy, and have been for about 2 months now. I did this with Autumn too, and I can’t even tell you how much better I have felt, health wise, as a result of eliminating all dairy from my diet. See, I am one of the lucky ones who has inherited the notoriously bad Koch family digestive system. For the past few years I have dealt seriously with times of ridiculous stomach pain, nausea, indigestion, heart burn and even mild flu like symptoms as a result of not properly digesting food. It has lead to a battle with weight gain and loss, and having two pregnancies back to back has only served to exasperate it. In the past I have experimented with eliminating certain foods, but without taking a serious approach. I attempted gluten free, but always found something I wanted to eat here and there, and I never made it the full 30 days. I didn’t eat meat for a little over a year, and actually felt better, but I still consumed eggs, dairy and even fish during that time. I caved when I craved chicken during my pregnancy with Autumn, and I never went back.
When each of my babies were diagnosed with a milk allergy, I was forced to take on an elimination diet with a lot more seriousness than I ever had before. If I “slipped up” and consumed dairy, it would result in days of fussiness, reflux and throwing up for my children, and I was not about to be the cause of that. Being extremely cautious with the dairy has lead me to notice an improvement in some of my own symptoms that I have struggled with for awhile. In fact, the majority of my nausea has gone away! This discovery lead me to do some more research on the effect that consuming animal products has on our bodies. I read some articles online, as well the books Veganist by Kathy Freston, The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone and Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin (which contrary to the title, is actually about being nutritionally healthy). These books opened my eyes to some startling studies and findings about how much we don’t pay attention to when it comes to our diets, and how we are creating environments within our bodies for disease to thrive. Because I am determined to attempt to solve my own health issues without the addition of any medications, going completely vegan appeals to me as being the best option.
After trying out some recipes on my family and having them be a huge hit, I decided that it is time to take the plunge. While my commitment right now is for 30 days, I don’t foresee myself going back to my old eating habits at this point. It has been five days now, and I am already seeing a difference in how I feel overall. To be honest, at this point, my stomach hasn’t been giving me any issues today and for me this seems like a huge milestone. Cooking and menu planning has been a little tricky, but it is also fun and challenging! My husband has been super supportive and has even found that he actually likes things he swore he didn’t (tofu and roasted squash are now being REQUESTED!!).
This is our dinner menu for this week:
Monday Night: Roasted Fall Vegetable Soup with Italian bread for dipping and Apple Crisp for dessert (made with dairy free butter substitute)
Tuesday Night: Taco night! Except that our taco filling will be a really yummy pan fried black bean and potato mixture, with toppings of lettuce, salsa, olives and avocado! I am excited about this!!
Wednesday Night: Gardein Chk’n Tenders (which everyone in my family loves!!) with roasted squash and sweet potatoes
Thursday Night: Barbeque roasted vegetables and tofu, with brown rice
Friday Night: Make your own mini pizzas (mine will be with Daiya Mozzarella, a vegan “cheese”)
Now – our dinners are all vegan, except for the pizza that Matt will be eating, because I am the one who is cooking them and this week I managed to come up with a menu suitable to everyone’s taste (I have been blessed with two children who LOVE veggies and tofu!), but I am not insisting that my entire family follow me in this commitment. My children have still eaten eggs, yogurt and regular chocolate, and my husband eats whatever he chooses to eat the rest of the day. I am hoping, however, that even eating a mostly vegan diet will be beneficial to them as well. Making this switch has required a slight increase in our weekly shopping budget, but only as I stock up on some staples. A big question I was asked by some people who I talked to about this was “Isn’t it going to be expensive?” and I honestly don’t see it as costing anymore than what we already have budgeted out for food, once I have a few items on hand that I don’t normally stock up on.
While I am not making this choice particularly due to an overwhelming compassion towards animals, I do have to admit that some of the research I found on the treatment of the animals that we see as food brought me to tears. I do find it disheartening that the animals that are breed and raised for food are not held to the same animal cruelty guidelines that those animals which we choose for pets are. The more I read and see, the more upset it makes me. I truly understand why people make this choice based solely on their compassion for animals. Whether or not you choose to eat meat, I do believe that you should take it upon yourself to know and understand where the food you are eating comes from. I am not passing judgment one way or the other, I am just stating that I was shocked when I realized how little I knew about what I was eating.
I will keep you updated throughout the month as to how its going, as well as some reviews on different recipes we try out! If you are Vegan, I could really use some suggestions on what to cook!!