7.13.2012

The Vegan Thing Part II

No meat. No dairy. No eggs. Very little added oil.

That's been the deal for the last six days or so. My husband has hopped right on this bandwagon with me, and the kids have also been enjoying our revamped meals, although I still allow them to have eggs and cheese.

We've been eating a lot of soups, grains, beans, nuts, seeds, and of course fruits and vegetables. It's taken some adjusting, at least for Ken. Before this, his breakfasts have been either unhealthy or sporadic, and he hadn't been bringing in his own lunch, so we're changing all that. I think we're getting there, though. Eating this way takes a little planning to a certain extent. You have to have foods prepared and ready to go if you hope to maintain the convenience of the otherwise typical diet and avoid the temptation to eat out. I'm making our own breads and nut-based milk substitutes. Also making ahead breakfast (usually oats soaked overnight with mashed banana, chia seeds, and cashew milk). Chia seeds are my best friends right now. They really fill you up, and they're excellent for you. Even better for you than flax seeds.

But overall, meal preparation has been VERY simple. I also truly truly enjoy not having to handle meat when I cook. Sure, I love eating meat, but it's nice not having to worry as much about things like cross-contamination or making sure shit's cooked all the way through so it doesn't accidentally make someone ill for a week.

Having fresh vegetables from my mom's garden has helped. Also, I plan to take good advantage of any deals I can score at farmer's markets this weekend. The meal prep isn't that much different than before. Three or four "big pot" meals (soups and stews and grain-based salads mostly) that can be eaten for meals throughout the week. Maybe a hearty pasta dish or stir-fry to round things out. Fruits, veggies, and nuts for snacks. Again, simple stuff. There is this impression some people have that this kind of diet is difficult to maintain or do because you have to buy all these crazy ingredients,  cook a ton of food, or eat all these weird protein substitutes, and take a ton of supplements, etc.

Sure, I could spend a ton of money on cheese substitutes, egg replacers, and fake meat, but I'd prefer not to. Soak some flax or chia in a couple tablespoons of water, and there's your egg (for baking and binding, anyway). Fake meat products are highly processed and I can't see enjoying more than the very occasional frozen veggie burger now and then, especially when recipes for homemade ones made from beans are so easy, good for you, and probably taste a million times better. As for fake cheese, there are some things I'm thinking of trying. I bought some nutritional yeast, which apparently can be used to mimic the flavor of cheese in certain dishes, but I'm not really dead set on doing it right this second. The truth is, I'm not craving cheese or milk. I haven't for a long time. I'm also not entirely against a sprinkle of aged parmesan cheese if I must absolutely have it on something, like my pesto.

So I guess the real question is, how have I been feeling in even this short time?

The quick answer is: AWESOME. Here's a list of the effects I've noticed in just a few days:

  • My mood has been very level and serene. My mental fog feels like it's begun to lift, and I'm able to focus on my work better than ever. 
  • I feel lighter and ready to move around after I eat, as opposed to feeling sluggish and in need of a nap.
  • I have not had a single digestive upset issue following any meal. This is major, because this is was a near daily thing for me.
  • I'm dropping a lot of water I've been retaining (peeing a LOT, TMI), and my ankles are completely normal size. I can also sit at my desk for long periods of time without them ballooning back up.
  • Over the last two days, my asthma/chronic nighttime wheeze is really starting to improve, and I'm not having a single incidence of heartburn/reflux for the first time in months. As a result, I'm sleeping MUCH better. I'm pretty positive the reflux and the asthma were linked. 
  • I don't know if I've lost weight, as I don't plan on stepping on a scale anytime soon, but I'm sure I'll start noticing those changes at some point. I'm also looking forward to seeing how it affects my psoriasis, but the inflammation seems to be less than usual.

Am I craving anything? Somewhat. My brain and mouth miss meat, but my stomach and intestines don't. The hard part will be not saying, "Hey, how 'bout a cheeseburger" when the memory of my digestive issues starts to fade, but hopefully the additional benefits will be enough to keep it going, because I truly just do not want to go back to the way I was doing things. This diet is actually too damn easy to allow that to happen. I'm not counting calories or weighing/measuring out portions. I don't really feel deprived, because I can still have the foods I truly love, like fruits and grains. There are a ton of tasty sweet treats that I can whip up in the ol' Vitamix. And if I absolutely must eat an animal of some kind, I'll go get a great piece of fish, and we'll make a night of it.

I highly HIGHLY recommend Pinterest for searching recipes. Lots of great vegan pinboards on there full of food that looks absolutely delicious, and I can't wait to try them all. The website Oh She Glows (and its accompanying Pinterest board) has been a fantastic help so far, but there are quite literally a TON of food blogs out there that you can scour for these kinds of recipes.

If anyone has any questions or suggestions, I'm happy to discuss in the comments!

Oh, and a quick note. Took the kids out for lunch today at the local market. There were all sorts of food options available to them, and I was letting them have free pick of whatever they wanted. They opt for the salad bar. #Awesome.