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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.