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Embracing the Vegan Lifestyle

As a newly confirmed vegan, I have found a few recipes that are excellent and make me feel great. I'd love to share my findings with you.

Garlic and rosemary.

Garlic and rosemary.

The Choice I Made a Year and a Half Ago

It was January of last year that I started the 30-day challenge to cut out all meat, eggs, and dairy. I have loved it ever since. It wasn’t as hard to drop meat as I first thought. I am getting older and was leaning away from meat in my diet, anyway. It was the eggs and dairy that were difficult to give up.

My choice was not really about the love of animals as much as it was about my own health. However, I do love that my choice is also kind to animals.

Veganism is not a sacrifice. It is a joy.

— Gary L. Francione

Granola.

Granola.

Vegan Products

In this past year, I have been introduced to many new things I was unaware of, like the benefits of lentils and nuts. I’ve also been introduced to products I never knew existed before, such as agave nectar. This is an alternative to honey and just as sweet.

How about tahini? Ever heard of it? I hadn't before going vegan, but it is a sesame seed butter that has an interesting flavor and texture.

Then there is flaxseed meal. Who knew it acts as an emulsifier when mixed with water and added to a recipe. One to two tablespoons thickens up and gets just slimy enough to mimic the quality of one egg. I’ve been using it in my bread recipe instead of egg and love the texture I get. It doesn’t quite do the same for cake, but it’s close.

Only when we have become non-violent towards all life will we have learned to live well ourselves.

— Cesar Chavez

Try Zucchini Discs

Ingredients

  • 1 zucchini, sliced thinly into discs

For the marinade:

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke

Instructions

  1. Take one zucchini sliced thinly into discs and marinade in the other ingredients.
  2. After 15 minutes, the zucchini slices absorb the marinade and get a smokey, sweet and savory flavor perfect for sandwiches or even instead of pepperoni on your homemade pizza.

I love it. It keeps in the refrigerator for weeks.

As I improved my diet, I started to learn to love my self, probably for the first time ever.

— Frank Ferrante

Loaves of bread.

Loaves of bread.

Cancer Risk Reduced

After my last colonoscopy, the doctor told me I was at risk for colon cancer (who isn’t these days) and that I should stop eating white bread and sugar. Apparently, cancer loves and thrives on that. So I got a bread machine and have been making my own whole wheat bread and raisin bread ever since. Now I've just tweaked the recipe to make it vegan.

The only animals I eat are crackers.

— Anonymous

Sticking With It

After those first 30 days, I decided I loved this new me and have kept it up. I’ve found some great nacho cheese recipes that call for potatoes and carrots (for color) and seasonings that make it look and feel and nearly taste like nacho cheese. Of course, chips are already vegan as long as they weren’t cooked in animal fat. I’m happy with that. I’ve also found a vegan sausage at the store made from eggplant that is great cut up on my homemade whole-wheat pizza.

Loren Toyota introduced me to a vegan sour cream made from raw cashews, yum. She also has vegan bacon made from tofu slices soaked in liquid smoke, maple syrup, and soy sauce. Really great. Whether you’re vegan or not, you must check out her “Hot for Food” channel and some of these recipes (see the video above). You’ll be amazed by what can be done with vegetables and fruits.

Compassion is the best side effect of being vegan.

— Anonymous

You might initially be gassy when you switch to a vegan diet.

You might initially be gassy when you switch to a vegan diet.

Downside #1: Gas

One downside no one speaks of is the gas. Yes, gas. I was immediately and chronically flatulent for the first two weeks. Okay. It’s laughable, but I never had such a flatulence problem before. It eventually went away, and I was happier. I guess when you think about it, it makes sense. I gave up heavy, fatty meats and replaced them with more vegetables, therefore more fiber. My digestive system took a little while to get used to the change.

If the rest of your family isn't vegan, you may need to cook multiple meals.

If the rest of your family isn't vegan, you may need to cook multiple meals.

Downside #2: Cooking Two Meals

The biggest downside has been cooking two meals for my husband and myself. However, even that isn’t as big a problem as I first thought it might be. When I make the stir-fry I used to make, I simply leave out the chicken and cook it separately. My husband adds chicken to his; I have mine without.

When I fix the spaghetti sauce, I spoon out some sauce into a separate pan for myself and add the hamburger meat to his. The Parmesan cheese is added last to his plate only and my vegan cheese alternative to mine. We eat together like before and love it.

Finding vegan meals when eating out can sometimes be a challenge.

Finding vegan meals when eating out can sometimes be a challenge.

Downside #3: Eating Out

I thought going out to eat might be a big problem, but not so. When we go out to eat, there is always something without meat I can order. If not, I order a salad that normally comes with meat and ask them to hold the chicken or whatever. I’m sure the restaurant is happy to save the meat for the next person and charge me the same price.

For breakfast at Denny’s, my husband got his favorite Grand Slam, and I got hash browns with a side of fresh fruit. It can be done if you want it to work.

Farmer's Market bounty.

Farmer's Market bounty.

Final Thoughts

After a year and a half, I’m enjoying this journey of dietary restriction. I feel better. I lost 30 pounds and have more to lose. My sleep is better, my hips don’t hurt anymore, my back feels better, and I feel better about myself.

Vegan Comments

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on May 29, 2021:

It is now 2.5 years into veganism and I wouldn't change back for anything. I don't miss the cheese near as much as I did and I can do without milk and eggs completely pain-free. I'm so glad I did this. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on March 05, 2021:

Chitrangada Sharan,

I see what you mean. I loved cheeses and thought I could never completely cut out milk and eggs but once I tried, it turned out easier than I thought it would. So many things can be done with coconut milk these days and many cheese made with things other than dairy. Hagan Daas makes a dairy-free ice cream that is wonderful: out of coconut milk. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on March 04, 2021:

Excellent article about Veganism. I am sure, you have inspired many by your well presented personal experiences.

I do prefer vegetarian food, most of the times. My food is predominantly greens, herbs, fruits, nuts, pulses, spices etc. But going vegan, will take some time. As I like desserts made with milk.

Thank you for sharing this wonderful information.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on March 04, 2021:

Lora Hollings,

I started for health and stay for the animals too. You are right, meat sounds disgusting to me now. My husband hasn't been converted and I still fix his breakfast with sausage or bacon and feel nauseated when I have to touch it. Thanks for the comments.

Blessings,

Denise

Lora Hollings on March 04, 2021:

And it is truly life changing in a positive sense! I became a vegan about one year ago. And I haven’t missed meat at all nor dairy, either. Before that I completely eliminated red meat from my diet and started eating more meals with beans and rice and making many wonderful Indian dishes that use veggies, curries, and spices. There are so many “meats,” cheeses, and even eggs made from plants that I haven’t missed meat at all. In fact, the last time I had red meat, it tasted very gummy and bad to me. Many people don’t realize that when you’re away from it for such a long time, even the thought of eating it becomes gross to you. It just goes to show you that meat eating isn’t an inherent desire but a learned behavior. If we raised our children on vegetarian or vegan diets, they would never want to eat meat! There are so many healthier substitutes like nuts and soy dishes that are as high in protein but don’t carry all the bad baggage like meat does with it’s high cholesterol. And, my motive was to spare animals from all the suffering involved from the time they’re born to the time they’re slaughtered but then I also became a vegan just because it is a healthier diet, especially after having DVT’s and pulmonary embolisms. I lost 35 pounds when I became a vegan and look and feel so much better too! It’s so nice to wear smaller sizes and feel like your clothes look good on you. And you feel so much better too. Yes, being a vegan has so many benefits. Just think of all the animals that you’re sparing from such a life of misery and pain! Thanks for this wonderful article, Denice, and your great recipes too.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on March 03, 2021:

MG Singh emge,

I never thought of that. Meat and aggressiveness being connected. That makes sense to me. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on March 03, 2021:

Peggy Woods,

I hope you enjoy the zucchini recipe. Let me know. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

MG Singh emge from Singapore on March 01, 2021:

Being vegan is the in thing these days. This is a nice article. Some research was done which brings out that eating meats is directly proportional to aggressiveness. Maybe if more people are vegan the violence could come down.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on February 28, 2021:

Congratulations on maintaining that healthy lifestyle. We both enjoy meat, eggs, and cheese, but also enjoy eating vegetables, and whole grains. Cutting back on the meats is a step in the right direction. I'll have to give your zucchini recipe a try.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on February 28, 2021:

Manuela,

Good for you. Keep it up. I do feel healthier. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on February 28, 2021:

Cynthia Zirkwitz,

Well said. I'm so happy you understand my reasons. It's one of those controversial things that my family is mostly against but tries to tolerate. I'm not making them follow my lead. I only want to do what is right for me. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on February 28, 2021:

Lorna Lamon,

Before cutting out meat altogether, I was on a just chicken and fish type diet. Eventually, I found I didn't really want all that chicken either. It was an easy step to cross the line and have none. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on February 28, 2021:

Marie Flint,

You make good points but I think we should be monitoring everything, not just sugar, salt and starch. I find the days when I sit and work on art are days I "need" less food but "want" more. And days when I'm walking or exercising more I "need" more food but "want" less. However that works, if I watch my activity I'm happier with my weight. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on February 28, 2021:

Linda Lum,

I agree. How did our American diet get so heavy in animal products anyway? It may be some sort of sign of prosperity but it isn't healthy which I am finding every day. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on February 28, 2021:

Eric Dierker,

Well, men can get away with things women can't. Not if they want to appear lady-like, anyway. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Manuela from Portugal on July 25, 2020:

Congratulations on your change, I only eat white meat and that only twice a week. I eat a lot of fruits and vegetables and some of my meals are totally made with these.

Cynthia Zirkwitz from Vancouver Island, Canada on September 08, 2019:

Congratulations on staying the route and now reaping those great health and self-love benefits!

Even with so much science on the positive side of veganism, it is still a pretty controversial decision to have made. Last year Canada changed its Food Guides radically to recognize the advantages of a whole food, plant-based diet. But adherents of the meat and dairy 'gospels' are still the big old mass choir and vegans need to support each other in what we know to be true-- we DO feel better, many health issues disappear, our skin looks better, the food tastes great, we become more creative in the kitchen, and we are not alone.

Lorna Lamon on September 08, 2019:

My daughter has been a vegan for almost three years now and thoroughly recommends it. I don't eat red meat, however, I still enjoy chicken and fish. It's amazing how many great dishes are out there, in particular Indian dishes which tend to use a lot of lentils, nuts etc. Great article Denise and I'm glad you are enjoying life as a Vegan and feeling better for it.

Marie Flint from Jacksonville, FL USA on September 08, 2019:

Good for you, Denise!

I strive for veganism, but currently allow myself to digress a bit. I don't feel like making all my own meals all the time, and my brother makes a good homemade, crusty bread.

So, my focus is one of mindfulness when consuming for pleasure or nourishment. If a supplement inadvertently contains gelatin, I say a silent prayer thanking the bovine world for their sacrifice to my health and read labels more carefully on my next purchase.

As far as meat, the main issue is the amount of uric acid in the portion. If desired, an adequate amount of dark, raw, leafy greens should be consumed with it. Ideally, the concentrated starches of grains should be avoided with meat consumption. Farm raised, organic sources are best.

As far as dairy, hey--cow's milk was design for the quick growth of calves. Human breast milk most closely resembles fruit juice!

I'm O+ blood type, and, according to the theory of the blood-type dieting, I'm supposed to be eating meat. Perhaps my receding gums are the result of low protein intake. So, I haven't mastered the vegan diet. My body shows it. My psyche embraces it, however, and I'll keep adjusting.

Whatever the diet, we should all be watching our sugar and salt intake.

Blessings!

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on September 07, 2019:

Thanks for sharing your transition to the vegan lifestyle. You make it seem doable. Thanks also for including the downsides and how you deal with them. The weight loss gets my attention. Very helpful.

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on September 07, 2019:

Bravo to you. There are so many creative ways to replace animal products. I have in my files a recipe for making "fake-on" with the rice papers one uses for spring rolls. Haven't tried it yet, but they look amazing--crunchy and savory.

As you said, for some people the choice for vegan is out of respect for animals, but our American diet is far too heavy in animal products. Eating more vegetables is a healthy choice.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on September 07, 2019:

Funtastic as my boy says and fanstastic as my wife says. I am not a "vegan" but I mainly eat vegan. It just is so much fun I think. Your Nacho dip deal will be done here - sounds yummy.

I love my garden. Pick it and eat it. My boy and I do not like cooked vegetables. Strange that.

Thanks for this. And just a note -- farting is fun hihihihi

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