Apr 27, 2012

My Vegan Week

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So, as many of you know, I did the Vegan-for-a-week experiment a couple weeks ago.  Finally, I'm getting the chance to sit down & discuss what I learned and how badly I suffered (not really).

First off, let me start by saying this was not that bad for me.  I feel like I was at an advantage because A) I love vegetables and B) I have been a vegetarian in the past (until I met the hunter).  I went into this challenge knowing it would be an opportunity to eat NEW things, rather than focus on what I was being denied.  This was never about torturing, dieting or starving myself.  The idea was that if I eliminated certain things, it would give way to a diet full of other good things.  If that makes sense.

Anyway, this is what I learned from being vegan for a week:

  • I became braver in the kitchen.  I played with ingredients and techniques instead of sticking strictly to the recipe.  If I was making a spaghetti and meatballs, I would just substitute the meat with spinach, quinoa or tofu.  With the right spices, anything can be delicious.  
  • There is a big difference between full and satisfied.  This is the biggest thing I learned.  When eating vegan, I ate a decent portion, then I would stop.  I didn't feel full.  I didn't lean back and pat my full belly.  I was just...satisfied.  It was a wonderful feeling.  Ever since then, when I eat "regular" food, I can only finish about half of what I could before and I just stop.  I don't feel the need to scarf every bit down.  I stop when I'm satisfied, guilt-free.  I don't know if my stomach shrunk or if the meat/dairy is just heavier than I was used to so my body feels fuller faster, but whatever the reason, I hope it never goes away.
The negatives to eating vegan:
  • Cooking for omnivores and myself was hard.  I was constantly having to prepare TWO meals at once and as hard as I tried to condense it down, it was still a struggle.
  • Eating at restaurants/parties is hard.  My first day of the diet, I went to an Easter party complete with pulled pork/hot dogs/hamburgers and even I brought chicken empanadas.  I managed to get by on chips & salsa and a yummy asian coleslaw until I got home, but it would have been smarter for me to bring something I could eat. 
  • People think you're crazy.  I can't tell you how many times people said "Why?!" to me.  My feelings weren't hurt, but I would just answer "why not?".  What really struck me was how many people said "I could never do that" which made me wonder again "why not?"  I love meat and cheese as much as the next person, but I can't tell you how much GOOD food I ate that week!
Speaking of.  This is what I ate:

Spaghetti with Spinach
(like an idiot, I put parmesan cheese on it.  oops)
1 jar of Newman's Organic marinara sauce
1tbsp olive oil
1 green bell pepper
1/2 onion
2 garlic cloves.

Saute pepper, onion and garlic in olive oil.  Add Spinach until cooked down.  Add sauce and heat through.
Serve over spaghetti noodles.
Delicious!


Oh my child, these lettuce wraps!  And you'll never guess who the recipe creator is...
The Pioneer Woman!
I know.  But seriously, even if you don't like tofu (or think you don't because you haven't tried it) these are so good you won't even know you're eating tofu.  
And since my husband had no desire in trying tofu, I made this exact recipe for him and the boys but with chopped chicken.  They loved it.


Portobello burger at Cheeburger Cheeburger
Yes, on our night out my family decided to torture me and chose Cheeburger for dinner.  Cheeseburgers are my weakness (or at least they were).  I was pleasantly surprised to see Portobello on the menu!  And you know what, after you add all of the regular burger toppings (ketchup, onion, lettuce, tomato, jalapeños) I couldn't tell the difference.  It was very enjoyable with out that bloated, roll-me-out-of-here feeling.


Sprouts/Avocado/Tomato/Veggie Slice "cheese" sandwich
This was my lunch nearly every day of the week.  This is not a struggle for me at all.  I really wanted to try the Veganaise at our local health food store but it was like $6 a jar and I didn't feel it was that important.  

And the very best thing I had all week:

Heaven.
This salad with a baked potato (with vegan butter).
I ate on that salad for about 4 days and it was seriously, SO GOOD.
So good.

So, I did it...and it wasn't that bad.  I wasn't dying.  I wasn't miserable.  I didn't threaten to punch anyone for their baby back ribs.  I have to say around day 3, I did start to get a little grouchy and I kinda missed that eat-until-you-pop feeling, but it didn't last long.  I think what made me grumpiest was that I had to use soy milk in my coffee.  I love soy milk, and I always drink it over regular milk anyway but my coffee is sacred.  I immediately went back to half&half at the first chance I had.  
And pizza.  I missed pizza a lot.  I could be vegetarian, but pizza and coffee are the major reasons I could never be vegan full time.

On a final note, I want to suggest that if you love fresh veggies and trying new things, you should really consider going vegan for a week.  It's not about limiting your diet, it's about opening it up to new things.  


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9 comments:

Liz Kantner said...

Ah! GOOD FOR YOU! My boyfriend has been vegan for 10 years and I've been vegetarian for six, but although I don't mind eating vegan sometimes, I've never been able to make the switch. Maybe I'll try it for a week like you did.

Here is a post I wrote on the subject - http://lizkantner.blogspot.com/2011/11/on-going-vegan.html

Also, I agree with you, I love soy milk, but I don't love it in my coffee.

Megan C. Stroup said...

I'm so glad you liked the chickpea salad! And I agree with the trying new things; when I gave up meat for Lent this year I changed so many recipes to meet my needs, but they turned out great! The hardest part was when I went out to eat with friends and everything I wanted to order on the menu was meat. Grr.... But I love spinach, quinoa and avocados, so I got by okay. :) It would be hard for me to be vegan because there are so many non-vegan foods that you would never think about because they have some obscure animal byproduct in them. I just know I would eat some of those without realizing it.

Congrats on finishing!

theogdenblog.com said...

That sandwich looks soooo yummy. Sprouts... mmm

TicoTina said...

this sounds really good, Jessica! I really don't have a problem with not eating meat, but I mainly wouldn't want to cut out dairy. that feeling of not quite being "full" is always really frustrating to me... I wish I could reeducate my brain on that.

Jenna Myhre said...

My husband and I have been vegan for nearly a year. Honestly one of the best decisions of my life. I'm glad you focused on trying new things instead of what you were losing. I wish everybody would try this lifestyle out for a week!

Sara Bell said...

I absolutely LOVE mushroom "burgers."
I do eat meat but I'm just not a huge fan of it so I wind up being an honorary vegetarian most of the time. I don't think I could give up cheese though. That's definitely my biggest downfall.

imlivinginadream said...

When I went vegetarian for 6 weeks in January/February I ran into a lot of the same problems as you. At the end of my first week I went to a family dinner & felt guilty bringing my own food, so I stomached about 4 bites of chicken but by then my stomach was used to no meat and it didn't go well. It was some of the healthiest weeks of my life, honestly. I learned to cook fun new things and I felt great. That being said, I got SO MANY "why the heck would you do that" as well!! It's weird how many people seem to get judgmental about it, but I also got a lot of "wow good job" especially from my coworkers who supported me through it. I'd love to do it again, I think!

Sadie Dear said...

Oh my Lawd, that salad sounds amazing! I have to try it. We love quinoa around here. I did a 40 day vegan fast last fall and it was haaaard. Especially the cooking for myself + omnivores part. But, I lost weight and felt a lot better for it, as well! I would definitely do it again, but I don't know about giving up dairy long term. I could do without eggs, but not cow milk. Soy milk = gross.

bookrockbetty.com said...

great post!! my brother was vegan for 4 years and it drove us all crazy at the time.... we felt so bad snarfing stuff down in front of him and trying to make things he could eat... we didn't understand it then. sometimes it seemed like he was eating nothing, but since completely changing my diet I get it now. i am not vegan or vegetarian. i've played with various diets and definitely function best with a little meat. we eat meet 2-3 times a week and eggs on an almost daily basis. when we first switched to no processed, mostly whole foods, my body went through a huge detox period! it was crazy! i even saw a gastro doc bc i thought something was wrong, but it was just my body adjusting. you make a great point about being full vs. satisfied. people fail to see food as fuel a lot of times. we eat for energy and the body doesn't need that "crap i gotta undo the button on my jeans" feeling at every single meal. i also agree on creativity with food when you eat a high percentage of raw/non animal foods. we eat a lot of lettuce tacos! haha i think every body is different.. definitely not one size fits all when it comes to diet. have you ever checked out dr. mercola's "eat for your body type" diets? it was pretty dead on for me based on the survey i took. I also eat as little wheat/gluten as possible and that seems to make me feel better. good for you trying this experiment!!

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