30 Days of Eatin’ Vegan: First Bites

Eating vegan

Friends, I have been feeling a bit…saturated these days. After some soul searching and some experimentation, I have decided to try out eating fully vegan for 30 days.

I have dabbled with vegetarianism, and during my days when I worked at a farmers’ market, I didn’t even so much as look at meat. I didn’t miss it. I didn’t crave beef burgers or chicken wings, and I felt really good: slim, clear headed. Because the vendors at the farmers’ market had a trade deal agreement, I’d trade the cheese I was selling for bunches of organic greens, peppers, squash…even veggies that I couldn’t identify (!). It was SO much fun to come home with my bounty and look up unique recipes online.

My overall feeling of healthiness has been waning this past year. I’ve gained some “happiness” weight with my fiancé, I’m tired a lot, and I don’t have the resolve to say “no” like I used to. (Cupcakes have been happening…too much.) I’m getting married in less than four months, and aside from just losing a few pounds, I want to feel more vibrant. I want to bounce off the walls with energy. I want to simplify my diet. No more flip flopping. I need to make a change. Also, as I enter into my marriage, I want to start establishing habits that are good for both me and my soon-to-be husband. I’m going to be 30 this year, and while I don’t know if a fully vegan lifestyle is for me for all the years to come, I want to try it in effort to see the difference it makes in my existence overall. It’s a step in the right direction, at least. If anything, I will learn new recipes and will hopefully feel a little better by following a regimen that omits dairy and meat. Choices will be easier knowing what I can’t have.

SO: I am calling on myself to take a one month vegan challenge. Thirty days of vegan eating that is inspired and deliberate. I will chronicle my experience on Unsullied: the next post will be about my favorite new vegan recipes and then I will follow up with my results of the challenge! We will see how a dairy-eating, salami-loving gal like myself does trying to make a healthy, plant-based change.

I have been following Oh She Glows and also read Eat to Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman to educate myself on eating a more plant-based lifestyle. I’m taking the elements of Dr. Fuhrman’s book that ring true to me, and pieces of wisdom from my friend Veronica, a five-year vegan, for advice. Veronica inspires me with her consistently good food decisions and her resolve to stay the path of a healthy, plant-based lifestyle. I asked Veronica to share some insight on her decision to go vegan, and to answer some questions I had about staying with it. She was very honest and helpful!

First off, I asked her about the hardest part of her transition to eating vegan.

“The hardest thing to adjust to actually had nothing to do with eating. When I went vegan, I found that while it was pretty easy for me to get used to the new diet, it was hard for people in my life to accept the change.”

Sounds like we have that in common! Veronica doesn’t have a problem with it though, she takes it in stride.

“There’s a stereotype that all vegans are preachy and have a superiority complex. They interpret veganism as severity of character. Food is cultural and personal, something we cherish and share. So when someone rejects a “normal” diet, and goes so far as to deem a whole lot of its foods as problematic, people get defensive and lash out against a perceived threat. We can all get along despite our differences! I just don’t need to hear, ‘but bacon is delicious’ for the millionth time.”

When I asked Veronica about finding new and fun things to eat (instead of just salad, salad, salad) she told me, “The easiest thing was finding variety. My original hesitation was that my meal choices would be limited, but in reality… going vegan opened a new door for me. I started looking at new recipes and restaurants. I learned to cook.”

I already cook, but I’m already having fun looking up new recipes on how to make zucchini noodles and vegan pad thai!

Veronica told me some of the advantages she has seen in her life since switching over to the vegan lifestyle.

“I’m slimmer. My skin’s nicer. I feel lighter and have more energy. I think my immune system is better, though that may be a coincidence (at least, I don’t get sick as much as I used to). But I also think that I really benefit from cutting out so many processed foods. Being vegan sets certain ‘dining out’ limitations in stone. There aren’t options for me at places like McDonald’s, Burger King, Dairy Queen, etc. As a result I eat a lot less fast food. It’s still easy to make bad choices (Taco Bell is vegan-friendly, need I say more?), but overall it’s been a much healthier route for me. Also, call me crazy, but I think I smell better than I used to.”

That’s all for now- but stay tuned for some awesome recipes next… I’m trying out some super savory and fun eats- more to come!

I have been on this trend for three days now, and so far, aside from missing scrambled eggs a bit, I’m not really having a hard time! Yesterday I had toast and peanut butter for breakfast, a green smoothie for lunch, beet juice as a snack, lots of teas like yerba mate, and lentils with arugula, caramelized onion and quinoa for dinner. I had apple and pineapple throughout the day as well.

I will have some follow up blogs with more insights from Veronica, links to recipes, tips, and some of my results, too: how I feel, what I like/ don’t like about my 30-day vegan stint!

Are you vegan or have you dabbled in eating vegan meals? Any tips for this newbie?

Photo credit: John Tornow

  • http://thegreenbeautybunny.com Alexis

    I’m so excited to hear of your vegan adventure! You’ll feel amazing. I have to agree with Veronica though, the hardest part is explaining your diet to other people. Stick to your guns though, they’ll adapt.
    Oh, also always offer to bring a dish at gatherings – then you’re guaranteed to have a real food option.
    Hope that helps! =)

    • http://getunsullied.com Kathryne

      Thank- you Alexis! Great advice… I’m really looking forward to seeing how creative I can get- there is just so much available online by way of recipes, it makes me so happy/excited! :0)

  • http://www.callitvanity.com Call It Vanity

    Super excited for you Kathryne! After 4 years of being what I call an “almost vegan”, I’ve found plenty of ways to cheat a little and still have junk food occasionally aka chocolate and lots of it! I omit dairy and meat from my diet, but still have fish once in a while (maybe once a month) and ethical eggs…well, apart from when I eat eggs out, I bask in blissful ignorance! Anyway, changing my diet was the best thing ever. I found the highest change for me was due to the fact I wasn’t pumping my body with crap loads of hormones anymore, so went down a dress size and lost 3 cup sizes (I had big gazongas). Also, it’s so true about how it open up doors for you when it comes to cooking. I eat great delicious meals every night now! Not so sure that would be the case if I could just slam a piece of chicken in the oven.

    I think my best advice would be after the 30 days if you want to keep it up, adapt it to a way you find manageable. If you overstretch yourself then it’ll all get thrown out of the window. And for eating out, Asian places are easiest because they rarely use dairy – Italian is the enemy! Haha. Can’t wait to see how you get on!

    Mayah x

    • http://getunsullied.com Kathryne

      This is so interesting to know- thank- you! It never occurred to me I might go down a cupsize, that would be nice, I have quite a bustline myself. :P I agree with you too! I am loving all the experimentation, but eventually, I think I will add back in ethical eggs… I never really realized what a staple they were in my diet until I gave them up. Eating out is so nice- there are a lot of vegetarian or vegan restaurants in my neighborhood, so it feels like such a treat not to have to prepare something. That’s the only thing for me- sometimes I tired of cooking and just want to press a button and have food at my doorstep- hehe.

  • http://www.ambersbeautytalk.com Amber

    This is awesome – looking forward to seeing how you get on with it! I don’t think I’d ever be able to do it because I’m way too fussy – I don’t even like lettuce :O so salads are a rarity for me haha. I like to think that when I move out though that I’ll have more control over what I eat as at the minute I pretty much get given what is cooked on that day – as I’m not paying I can’t have a lot of say! Also…working in a cake shop makes it pretty difficult to resist a cupcake every now and then hehe! Good luck :D xx

    • http://getunsullied.com Kathryne

      I hear that! When I lived at home with my folks it was a lot of steak, chicken, and buttery noodles. I used to work at a pastry shop too that would send the workers home with whatever wasn’t sold that day, so sometimes I’d have 3 bags of bagels, scones, and brownies, etc. I was so poor at the time, my brain was like, ” stock up!” BAD. Haha, my problem too is the moderation. I wish I could eat just one cookie. I’m sort of an all or nothing gal- hoping I can change that :0)

  • Katie

    Go Kathryne! I ate vegan for around 2 years, and I have three tips: One, always try a new ingredient by itself before you make a recipe with it. Two, if you miss bacon, homemade tempeh bacon is stupid easy to make, packed with protein, and it’s great on salads. Three, it’s totally normal to make one salad with an entire bag of kale, or pack 5 servings of fruit into one smoothie, or eat or several cucumbers at once – welcome to the plant-based life of eating ridiculous volumes of food! Good luck!

    • http://getunsullied.com Kathryne

      GREAT tips, Katie!!! Thank- you! I am already in love with the tempeh bacon, and I love how you can still get “meaty” if you want to- like a black bean quinoa burger or a lentil loaf. The other night I was running low on groceries and needed to go to the store the next day, so I ended up have a huge cucumber, 3 tomatoes, and a box of basil leaves with a little olive oil and vinegar- haha, it was so filling! The “Eat to Live” guy, Dr. Furhman, says you can eat a whole pound of raw veggies and a whole pound of cooked veggies plus 4 fruits (or more, if you want) a cup of beans, a cup of grains, and 1oz nuts per day along with other stuff like flaxseed powder. While I am not following it to a T, and definitely putting my own spin on it- sometimes I need more protein, so it’s toast and a nut butter for breakfast, etc.- it’s so interesting to me, because there is so much VOLUME- being hungry is never a problem, I never am! It’s just the cravings every now and then that get ya… you smell something when you walk by a restaurant, and go… oooooh! Lol! But I am loving it so far, I feel much better without meat, clearer in every way!

  • http://ecodivablog.wordpress.com Heather

    It is so exciting that you are trying the vgean thing for a month. You may find out that you like it enough to keep it! Oh She glows is an awesome blog, and he cookbook is great too! I also have posted a large number of my favourite recipies on my blog, and i have some info on different nutrients up on there too. http://ecodivablog.wordpress.com
    Zucchini pasta is my favourite! And I have a great recipe for lentil/chickpea “meatballs” to go with it!

    • http://getunsullied.com Kathryne

      Thanks so much for the info! I am in love with Oh She Glows (what a wonderful name too!) Her site is to die for, and I just purchased her cookbook too. (I’m kind of obsessed with cookbooks, I have a whole bookshelf dedicated to them!) The “meatballs” sound AMAZING!

  • Christine

    I’d like to provide another point of view. I went vegan a few years ago (for a little over a year). It was really easy because I didn’t eat a lot of meat anyway and I love to cook. I made lots of great vegan meals, many of which I still make today. That year though — I was sick. Like all. the. time. With really strange symptoms. As I bounced from specialist to specialist. I never thought to equate my being ill with going vegan because it was, in my mind, the healthiest way to eat (right?)
    After about a year, I was tired of feeling poorly and I figured out the only change I’d made was giving up animal products. I added fish and chicken back in 2-3 times a week and all my mystery ailments disappeared. After my experience, I met several women who had similar things happen while going vegan (including one who quickly got pregnant after a couple of years of trying while vegan). So going vegan did NOT work for me. I realize everybody is different and I wish you well on your month-long journey! Just keep an eye on your health if you decide to go vegan for more than 30 days.
    Food for thought, if you will. ( =

    • http://getunsullied.com Kathryne

      Thank- you, Christine- that is really helpful! I had read some other postings from different websites and bloggers about this very problem- everyone’s chemistry is certainly different, and what works for Peter may not work for Paul. I am so glad that you figured that out though, because that sounds scary! I had a similar issue when I was doing some rather extreme dieting back in the early 2000′s and Medifast (terrible) was getting really popular. And it nearly sent me to the hospital. That balance is so important to me, and it’s so funny because when I was younger, it was all about “lose weight, look good”- and NOW, I just really want to FEEL good, and I realize the rest will follow. Protein is a huge factor for me, and something that I have been getting from non meat forms like nuts, nut butters, beans, and veggie burgers. The main thing that I find I have a tendency of slipping into with the veganism is finding “smeat”- haha, like meat alternatives that are made of soy or seitan, and I know I have to watch that because your body doesn’t break that stuff down as easily. I have a feeling I will be adding back in ethical eggs when all is said and done… :0)

  • http://damederose.wordpress.com Ashley

    Hey kathryne,

    I’ve nominated you and your sister for the very inspirational blogger award.

    I’m not sure if you have already been nominated if so no worries!

    Ashley x

    • http://getunsullied.com Kathryne

      Thanks so much, Ashley! We’re honored! We’re so excited to do this, yay! :0)