How do you become a vegan all of a sudden after 34 years of eating meat? I don’t know. Honestly, I don’t.
I’m a mid-western meat and potatoes kind of girl. Give me a big ‘ol juicy burger, a steak, some deer meat, even a pork chop or some catfish fillets. I could go without the fruits and vegetables all together. Slap a loaded baked potato beside it covered in butter, sour cream, and bacon. Add a side of creamy, gooey mac and cheese, and some sweet iced tea. And I’m set. Oh and add a piece of chocolate cake and some ice cream on the side for dessert or homemade cheesecake.
That’s me. I’m that girl. Give me some FOOD. I’m not a rabbit and I don’t want to eat like one. It kind of seems like I may have to start.
After an appointment with my doctor yesterday I found out that I have high blood pressure, most likely caused by my weight which is caused by steroids that I have to take daily for my lupus. Not only do I get to start another medication…YAY…now I also get to become a vegan. Yes, a vegan.
Why do I get to become a vegan? Well according to my doctor it will help me lose weight which will lower my blood pressure and it very well may help with the inflammation I have from lupus and arthritis. Great. IF it will help then I’ll do it, but it better work if I’m giving all this stuff up.
Being a vegan can have many health benefits. A vegan diet is known to help in weight loss. It can maintain a healthy heart, protect against diabetes and possibly certain cancers. Vegan diets are richer in certain nutrients, lowers blood sugar levels, improves kidney function, lowers risk of heart disease, protects bone health, and can reduce arthritis pain. Even though a vegan diet has many health benefits, it’s also important to make sure you are still getting the correct nutrients, vitamins, minerals and calories that your body needs. Sometimes it is necessary to take supplements to make sure the amount of nutrients you are getting is enough for your body to stay healthy.
What is a Vegan???
What the hell in a vegan anyway? Well, sort of like a vegetarian but not exactly. A vegan is a person who has given up anything made with animals/animal products/animal by-products. So that basically boils down to no meat, no chicken or fish, no eggs, no milk or cheese or yogurt or ice cream, nothing made using any part of an animal which includes gelatin, refined sugars, honey/beeswax, and butter. That’s pretty much all the good stuff that I’m going to be giving up here.
A vegan diet is low in saturated fat and rich in nutrients. Eating a vegan diet can have drawbacks such as eating out. Although many restaurants are starting to have vegan options, it can still be hard to make sure the food you are eating is totally vegan. Food labels can have hidden animal ingredients so it is important to check before consuming anything. Living with non-vegans can cause some issues when it comes to meals as well. Meal planning has to become creative in order to please everyone.
In January after the holidays I decided it was diet time. I cut out all processed foods, all caffeine, starches, and red meats. My meals consisted of 75-80% fruits and veggies and the rest fish, chicken, or eggs, healthy fats, and whole grains. I also limited my calorie intake to 1100 calories per day. I lost 8 pounds in 3 months on that diet. It didn’t work. So now’s the time to try something different.
I’m a Vegan
Veganism…I never thought I would be here.
Being a born and raised Midwest girl, never ever did I think I would go a single day without meat, dairy, or butter. Never did I think I would feel like a rabbit when I sat down for a meal. And never did I think I would have to research, read labels, and cook separate meals for myself than what I make my family.
What to eat???
Thinking about all the things that you would be giving up as a vegan makes you also think…”What in the hell am I actually going to eat?”. Well most people would think just fruits and vegetables. That’s not the case. There are so many things that a vegan can eat while still being true to their “beliefs”.
Nowadays there are alternative options for everything. Gluten free. Sugar free. Low fat. On and on and on. So of course there are also vegan alternatives for almost everything. From ice cream to cheese, sour cream to milk, and even meat and egg substitutes, pretty much anything you are giving up has an alternative. There are nuts which provide protein as well as nut butters. Tofu can be used a meat and egg substitute.
Whole grains can help replace iron and fiber. Nutritional yeast has a cheesy flavor and is full of protein. Nuts provide iron and fiber. Seeds contain omega-3 fatty acids. Beans are another source of protein.
Veganism when you think about it seems hard. Like super hard. And the price of things for the most part (at least in my area) is much higher than animal products. Thinking about “eating only vegetables” as most people think a vegan does brings about the question, “What do I eat?”. Thinking about just eating vegetables day in and day out seems boring and will get old fast. Most people think only of eating raw vegetables but that’s not all veganism is about.
It’s raw and cooked foods, vegetables and fruits as well as whole grains, nuts, seeds, and animal product substitutes. Adding spices and sauces and using different cooking techniques allows for a variety of different flavors, textures, and tastes. So mixing it up, just like in a normal diet, will make things interesting so it doesn’t get boring and monotonous.
My Vegan Journey Begins
April 11, 2018-
Today was my first full vegan day and I pretty much thought I was going to die before it even started.
I made it through my first vegan breakfast. Generally I don’t eat lunch and instead have an afternoon snack so I knew breakfast had to be something to really fill me up. Searching Pinterest, I looked to see what options I had. Potatoes. I love potatoes…but we had none. Absolutely inexcusable in this house! To the freezer! Hard telling what was in there.
Thankfully I had a bag of frozen hash browns. All veg=vegan! Yay! What could I add to bulk it up? I had seen some variations on Mexican dishes that looked pretty good. So Mexican for breakfast it was.
I threw in a can of beans (black would’ve been preferable but I didn’t have any so dark red kidney it was), a container of instant quinoa and wild rice, a bit of EVOO to saute, and spices (parsley, onion salt, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, cumin, and chili powder). A quick saute to let it heat through, brown a bit, and crisp up a little…and VIOLA! Done.
It smelled amazing and looked good, but how would it taste… The true test!
The First Bite of an All Vegan Meal
Of course I put a big bite in my mouth way too quickly and man was it hot! So I couldn’t taste that bite, it just burned my mouth. I let it cool a bit and then tried again. It was good. Actually, it was delicious. A little dry so next time I will use a bit more oil for sauteing, but it was actually good. I just made that. A totally vegan meal that was good, delicious…and super flavorful.
After eating the whole bowl which was about a cup and a half total (I had actually made enough for 2 servings), I was full. Like stuffed full to where my stomach was on the verge of hurting. That was amazing in itself. Normally I would have to eat twice that much to feel full.
I actually made it through a meal. A totally and completely vegan meal. It was good and filling. And I didn’t die.
Thinking about veganism can raise many questions and seem like it’s going to be really difficult to achieve. If you think about all the health benefits, then it’s actually worth everything you will be giving up. There are so many options for vegans to eat that meals won’t ever get boring or monotonous. Try new things…foods, ways of cooking, sauces…you’ll end up finding some really delicious food that can make your life so much more healthy.