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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.