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Is Veganism a Good Idea?

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.

Oil painting of salad makings.

Oil painting of salad makings.

I've Been Vegan for a Year and a Half

In January 2018, I embraced the 30-day vegan challenge to see if it was something that could be done in my home, in my life. They call it "Veganuary." I thought it wouldn’t be possible. Giving up all meat (anything with a face) didn’t seem so hard. Vegetarians eat nothing with a face. I already didn’t care for red meat or fish and was eating very little chicken.

However, vegans eat nothing that comes from a “mother,” as well. Giving up eggs and dairy could be a problem. I do like my cheese. I like my ice cream. But really, it wasn’t as bad as I had originally thought. There are many plant-based ingredients that can be used as alternatives.

Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.

— Albert Einstein

I like my ice cream.

I like my ice cream.

No Ice Cream?

I figured giving up milk would be no problem, and I hardly ever eat eggs. However, I thought giving up ice cream and cheese was going to be a difficulty. Also, many of my cookie and cake recipes are just not the same without eggs. That first 30 days I thought would be the last of this challenge if I couldn’t find something to take the place of milk and eggs. Also, I wondered: "Am I going to become sickly without the protein and minerals in meat?"

Ice Cream and Milk Alternatives

I found that frozen fruits and veggies thrown into a blender with almond milk make a great shake/smoothie that is almost a good alternative to ice cream. I don’t feel that deprived with such great alternatives. I discovered many wonderful kinds of milk, such as soy milk, almond milk, coconut milk, and cashew milk. Each one has a different flavor and richness. The almond milk is great but looks a lot like skim (dairy) milk and has a “watery” look but not a watery taste. I’ve started using it for my breakfast cereals.

I learned to check the ingredients to make sure there were no egg or milk products added in the production. I got confused at first until I realized that whey is also a dairy product.

Non-violence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution. Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages.

— Thomas Edison

Family gatherings can be complicated when you're the only vegan.

Family gatherings can be complicated when you're the only vegan.

Downside: Family Gatherings

This has been the biggest problem, really, because my family gets together with food. We all bring something and put it all together. My family looked at me critically when I first told them I no longer eat meat. I just make sure I’m bringing something I can eat and inviting my skeptical family to have some, also. Some did. Mostly I enjoyed myself even though I received many snide comments and side glances. It too wasn’t as hard as I first thought it would be.

I can stand their funny looks and whispered comments because I’m the black sheep of the family. That is the response I’ve received for almost every choice I’ve made in my life. I’m getting used to it.

The soul is the same in all living creatures, although the body of each is different.

— Hippocrates

Vegetables are wonderfully colorful and also have numerous health benefits.

Vegetables are wonderfully colorful and also have numerous health benefits.

Health Benefits

On top of feeling really good about myself and my choices, my health has improved. I sleep better, having to rise to visit the bathroom only once a night instead of the usual three or four times. My joints have stopped hurting. My hips had gotten so bad that I had been using a cane to take the pressure off of my right hip when I walk. The pain I endured after visiting the grocery store every week was indescribable. Yet now I don’t have any pain from walking. That’s remarkable!

My attention span had been much improved, and I’m able to hold a thought longer. I don’t feel exhausted after each meal or like I need a nap anymore. I have more energy and mental acuity than I have had in the past decade. Any one of those things was worth giving up hamburgers forever.

Part of my becoming a vegetarian was that I would look at my burger, then look at my dogs, and I wasn’t able to see a difference.

— Kristen Bell

Vegan Cauliflower Crumble Recipe

I found a recipe for a Taco Crumble made from cauliflower and mushrooms. I’ve modified the recipe somewhat for my own use, and I’m sharing it here. This is perfect to prepare ahead and keep in the refrigerator for up to a month. I like to divide the recipe in half and freeze half so I have a spare container of my crumble for longer. Use it instead of hamburger in tacos, burritos, salads, tostadas, and even on spaghetti squash. I love it.

Ingredients

  • 1 small cauliflower, washed, dried and cut into florets
  • 3 mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder (optional; add more if desired)
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. In a food processor, process the cauliflower until it resembles rice. Transfer to a bowl and then process the mushrooms and walnuts until finely chopped. Add them to the cauliflower in the bowl and mix the remaining ingredients.
  2. Spread all this onto a foil-lined or parchment-lined baking sheet and bake in the oven at 350°F for about 15 minutes. Take it out and turn/toss lightly and return to the oven for another 15 minutes.
  3. Once this is all toasted and cooled, transfer to containers to keep airtight in the refrigerator for future use or use immediately. Very yummy!

Every time sitting at a dining table, we make a choice. Please choose vegetarianism. Do it for the animals. Do it for the environment and for the sake of your own health.

— Alec Baldwin

A wide variety of spices.

A wide variety of spices.

Final Thoughts

This year and a half has taught me many things about myself. I’ve dieted many times over the years, and I would say I’ve lost hundreds of pounds (and gained them all back plus more).

With this new vegan diet, I have not only lost weight but I’ve kept it off, and I have never had such an easy time of “altering my diet” before. Usually, I was denying myself something I really wanted. Now I’m denying myself something I really didn’t want and don’t want to ever go back to. That’s a big difference that changes everything. For me, veganism was a very good idea.

Vegan Comments

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on August 24, 2021:

Favored1,

I sure appreciate you trying to comment. I've only been on this journey for almost 3 years but I feel so much better and don't see any reason to go back. As for the cheese, I sure understand what you are saying. The vegan alternatives don't have quite the same taste and they don't melt the same. However Follow Your Heart brand comes really close with their Gouda, Cheddar, and American. I still have to toast the cheese (or zap it in the microwave) much longer than real cheese. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on August 24, 2021:

From Favored1,

I tried to leave a comment on your article but it won't let me.

Yes, there are some issues with eating vegan or being a vegetarian, but for the most part I don’t miss much of the food (except eggs!). Love almond milk, sprout bread and veggie burgers.

Most of our meals can easily have meat added to it, but my husband has been eating more of my foods lately than his meat dishes! I recently made a meatloaf with Beyond Burgers and he loved it.

I don’t eat out much, not even fast foods because they fry things in animal-fats oil (like McD’s). Wendy’s and Burger King fries are still vegan friendly I’ve been told.

Although I’ve been a vegetarian most of my life, it’s been over 11 years since I became strict with it. The thing that is holding me back from actually being vegan is that I haven’t given up cheese completely. Just don’t like the vegan cheese and I’m not a tofu fan at all.

So proud of your accomplishments with your making this life change.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on March 01, 2021:

Devika Primić,

I thought that too at first. I thought may a 30 challenge I could do but not a lifetime. I was wrong. I find it makes me feel pretty good to keep it up. Try a week and see what you think. Also, don't worry about "mistakes" when you have something with egg or milk in it. It isn't a military thing where you will be shot for backsliding or making a mistake. Just keep going. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on March 01, 2021:

I have not tried it, but you make this lifestyle sound a good idea. I know a few who are and admire their choice. For me ,I am not sure for how long I would take on this challenge.

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

Peggy Woods,

I thought giving up the eggs, cheese, and milk would be terribly difficult but once I got used to the cheese substitutes they sell in the stores as well as coconut milk (I like better than the soy milk or almond milk) I felt pretty good. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

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

Marie Flint,

It is plane to see you've done some research in this area. Those are interesting points and I'm inclined to agree with you. I'm glad I don't have to worry about the uric acid anymore. I cut it all out. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

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

Dora Weithers,

I think the meats were making my brain sluggish as well as my body. Now I have much more energy and attention. That's great. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

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

Lorna Lamon,

I always thought cauliflower was nasty smelling when boiled like my mom always did, but these recipes I have found lately prove that cauliflower hasn't much flavor of its own and when you add seasonings and spices, it takes on a whole different flavor and texture. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

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

Linda Crampton,

Good for you. I started there too before crossing the line into cutting dairy and eggs too. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

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

Linda Lum,

Thanks. No I haven't put them into soup but I imagine they would do well in soup or chili. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on November 11, 2019:

My niece has become a vegetarian and when she visited us we cooked vegetarian meals that we all could enjoy together. The thing that made it easier for us is that she still does eat eggs, cheese and milk. That would be the hardest things to totally give up eating. I applaud your efforts in choosing the right diet for you that works. It is good that you found alternatives to your liking and that you are feeling better physically. Thanks for telling us about your food journey.

Marie Flint from Jacksonville, FL USA on September 20, 2019:

I agree with you, Denise. A vegan diet with a 70% raw basis is an excellent diet.

I'll share some things I've learned along my dietary path. When the world was at war, Denmark converted its diet to plant-based. It was an economic survival question. Everyone's health improved. (I don't remember now whether it was during WWI or WWII.)

When learning about Eastern Philosophy, my yoga instructor pointed out that the carnivore's intestinal tracts are much shorter than human's for the quick expulsion of meat. Ours, on the other hand, is long (especially the small intestine) for the slow digestion of plants.

The biggest problem with meat is the end of the metabolic process of the animal when uric acid is trapped in the flesh upon killing. (The Jewish culture uses kosher killing to ameliorate this problem.) The uric acid builds up in the body because our kidneys are designed to only handle our own body's process. Thus, problems with arthritis and other degenerative diseases. Herbert Shelton, a naturopath, recommended that if a patient insisted on eating meat, one 3-4 oz serving should be eaten only 2-3 times per week and served with adequate amounts of dark, leafy greens--no starch for optimal digestion. By the way, the larger the animal, the slower the metabolism and the greater the problem with uric acid. That's why red meats (beef, venison, pork) are usually the first to go in the quest for health. Meat, if eaten, should be "organic," or "farm raised," where the growth process is conducted with love. How an animal is raised and killed DOES make a difference.

That's a nice recipe you shared. Thank you!

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on September 19, 2019:

Impressed that you attention span has increased. That's appealing. Thanks for sharing your new found eating style and recipe. Continued success to you, going forward.

Lorna Lamon on September 19, 2019:

Such an interesting article Denise and clearly you have benefited in so many ways from becoming a vegan. I have cut red meat out of my diet completely and already I don't feel as sluggish. I love your cauliflower recipe as I always struggle to make cauliflower interesting. Lately I have put it into curries, however, I will certainly give your recipe a try.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on September 18, 2019:

I'm impressed by the health improvements that you experienced once you became a vegan. I'm a vegetarian at the moment but would prefer to be a vegan for ethical reasons. Your article is very encouraging for me.

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on September 18, 2019:

Good for you for taking on the challenge and following through. You make it sound so easy. I will share your recipe with my younger daughter. Have you used those taco crumbles in homemade chili or soup?

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