Vegan Life = 30 Day Pledge

Why am I doing this?  I want to add in more vegetables and eliminate the processed foods from our household.  It is a timeframe for me to focus on discovering new recipes.  I think we can agree that processed meats like bacon and lunch meat is an unhealthy choice.  Currently my husband agreed to eliminate those from the house for this time period.  I also want to see if I can get rid of my obsession for high fat cheese and ice cream which are not healthy choices for me.  I am going to an extreme for the next 30 days in hopes of figuring out new meals and better products.  In a way, forcing myself to revisit the ingredient labels instead of mindlessly grocery shopping and grabbing for the same exact brands every time.  An example is we would have this high fat potato cream soup every week from the pre-packaged section of the grocery store.  That cannot have the best possible nutritional value.  I have decided to continue to eat fish, my favorites are wild salmon (not from a can) and shrimp.  I am continuing to consume honey.  So is this 100% going vegan if I am still eating fish and honey?!  Nope.  But that is OK with me.  The point is to switch it up and do some research.  I want to not be in a rut with my cooking and make sure that I am selecting the best possible ingredients.  I also want to cook with a larger variety of vegetables.  I recently tried mushrooms and think I will be adding those to our rotating menu.  I already purchased more fruits and vegetables today than I ever did before.  I even bought frozen acai berries for smoothies!  I doubt anyone has ever been told by a doctor to stop eating so many fruits and vegetables.  I am excited to get a variety of vitamins from these foods and looking forward to see if I notice any changes in my energy level.  I will be posting new recipes on my blog as I figure them out, sometimes this takes me a little bit to post since I want to make sure it tastes good right after it is made and also as a leftover.  Already today for lunch I had a veggie chili with TONS of different vegetables and spices and topped it with half of an avocado.  It was delicious.

Am I doing this for anti-cruelty reasons?  Yes I do support animal rights and very much into cruelty-free products in my life.  But the biggest driver for me is my health.  I am not getting any younger, I am approaching 40 in a few years and it is really starting to make me refine my diet.  I work so hard at my exercising but that is only a partial way to focus on my health.  The vast percentage of improving my lifestyle is via what I eat and drink.  I am a firm believer that there is always room for improvement.  I am never going to stop learning and trying my best.

Am I asking you to join me?  No!  This blog post is not going to be a way to convince you to become a vegan.  Your diet is in your control.  I like to use my blog as a way to share information.  Honestly, I am not making my husband do this with me since I am a firm believer that everyone has a right to choose what they want to eat.  I am really taking this time to use a fine tooth comb on what types of food I bring into our home.  I also want to see if I notice any change in my system with avoiding dairy, I have a suspicion that I have a sensitivity (not an allergy) to it.  I do encourage folks to question ingredients and my favorite rule of thumb is if the ingredient list reads like a list of chemicals, it probably is.  An ingredient list should be something that you can clearly read.  I might even find out that some of these vegan versions have too many chemicals for my comfort level.

Items that will be a challenge for me =

  1. Avoiding dairy = I am a cheese addict.  I have been consuming high fat cheese on a daily basis for years now.
  2. Avoiding items made with dairy, eggs and also ingredients that are derived from these and are tricky to figure out.  Mainly this is with pre-made items like baked goods, salad dressings and snacks.  Many either contain eggs and milk or there are some sneaky ingredients like ghee, gelatin, whey, etc.  It will take some time and label reading but I will find my favorite brands and then just stick with those.  So it will be work upfront but will be easier in time.
    • Ghee = Which is just a clarified butter.  It is commonly found in dishes from the Indian subcontinent and also in certain Naan breads.
    • Gelatin = Made from animal body parts (bones and skin).  Examples = Found in marshmallows, fruit snacks (gummy bears), Jello and might be in some apple juices.  Not all snacks have gelatin, my favorite ones that I already purchased and have enjoyed is from YumEarth and the sour twists are vegan.  However, their gummy bears are not.  Irregardless of being a meat-eater, flexitarian, vegetarian or vegan (or any other buzz word) I would not want to eat this ingredient so I was happy to figure this one out.
    • Whey = Just another version of milk.  Example = Might find some non-vegan protein powders that contain whey.  Also in some breads, crackers and of course cheese like ricotta.  My favorite brand for bread is Rudi’s Bakery.
    • Casein (Calcium Caseinate, or Sodium Caseinate)= Sometimes you will find this ingredient in some brands of cheese alternate products so reading ingredient lists is important.  My favorite is Daiya brand since it is not only casein free but also soy free as well.
    • Source with complete list is here =  I am just naming the few that I have seen on labels while shopping recently.
  3. Eating out = There is an app for your phone called “HappyCow” and it provides a list of nearby restaurants that are Vegetarian and Vegan.  However, I eat out so rarely (maybe twice a month) that this will not be a huge issue.  If I am eating out, I will just select something that seems the healthiest choice on the menu and not stress out about it.

My first steps…

  1. Signed my 30 day pledge = This just holds me accountable.
  2. Recipe Research = I started looking up recipes as well as product brands that were vegan.  I also purchased two cookbooks which were highly recommended on Amazon.  If they turn out to be worth it, I will reference them during my July favorites post.
  3. Grocery Shopping = I am shopping at Whole Foods (in person) and Vitacost (online).  Vitacost was easy since I could select the checkbox for vegan and see the complete product list.  The only part that took a long time was finding dairy substitutes.  I read a lot of ingredient lists.  I purchased vegan versions of butter, cheese (shredded and slices), yogurt, pudding and whipped cream.  I did not find a substitute for sour cream so skipped it.  I have no use for eggs, I was just eating them a few times a week for breakfast and I do not bake so I could skip this.  My coffee creamer (Califia Farms) and milk were already vegan.  I selected a frozen fruit bar instead of ice cream.  After I test out the brands, I will blog about my favorites (as well as ones that did not work out).  I also stocked up on MANY vegetables and excited to try out the new recipes.  I am also making sure that the grains I am consuming are the best possible ones.  Meaning instead of white rice, I am selecting brown.  I bought quinoa which cooked up very nice and had a nutty flavor.  I also purchased organic whole wheat flour bread and taco shells.
  4. Divided the Fridge / Freezer = I moved the meat and dairy items to the large lower drawer in our fridge.  I also used my Dollar Store bins to put all of the eggs in one section on the shelves.  I moved the dairy ice cream, frozen pizza with cheese and other frozen meat items to our downstairs freezer.  No, I did not throw away food to do this, we have a mixed household and that is perfectly acceptable to me.  It is just easier for me to organize our products so making quick lunches and meals is faster.

Now we will see how the rest of this goes.  I have from now until August 19th.  On that weekend I will make my full report and hopefully have some newly approved recipes to post.  I am not a person who likes extreme diets so I am not certain if I will stick with this after 30 days or not.  I think there will be some products that I will like the vegan version better.  As long as the ingredients are good, I will stick with it.