The first few days of eating vegan felt like the most drastic routine change. Now, after 26 days are literally ‘under my belt’, and closing in on the end of the challenge, it feels like the most natural way to live. Right up front, I feel obligated to emphasis the importance of adding Vitamin B12 to your diet if you choose vegetarian or vegan eating. What I didn’t know about B12 could have hurt me.
When you decide to remove the dietary staples you’ve relied on for as long as you can remember from your life, you have to do a lot of justifying and reasoning to get through it. At first, not allowing myself meat or dairy felt like constantly banging into walls. Thankfully, it became easier to find alternatives each time I stopped to think about what animals have to endure for us to eat meat and consume dairy products. I never, ever expected my desire for animal foods to subside. But, after the first 10 days or so, to my surprise, my nagging, carnivorous voice was silenced. It was weird and welcomed. I felt calm, connected, in control and didn’t covet my neighbor’s cheeseburger on the plate to my left as I would have expected. Maybe it was physiological or maybe it was the lack of convenient meatless, dairy-free ‘grab & go’ foods at my fingertips. Don’t get me wrong, you can be vegan and eat crap too, but that was never an option for me. As you can image, I’ve cut out a butt-load of unnecessary calories these past few weeks. With only a handful of days left on my goal calendar, I don’t feel anxious or relieved, just content. And, yes, I’m afraid that I’ll overindulge the minute I let go and I’ll be right back to mindless eating. This is the closest I’ve ever felt to my food. So, although the challenge ends, my dedication to animal free nourishment will continue.
What’s new in my fridge and pantry? Nothing really. I didn’t buy vegan cheese or tofu. Almond and coconut milk were already a part of our routine. Rice, quinoa, pasta, beans, lentils, whole grain oats are all familiar faces in our pantry too. But I do have a couple of new favorite recipes; Whole Wheat Pancakes and Black Bean Tacos. Here’s what I’ve been enjoying this month: (correction – add dark chocolate to any box below)
At the beginning of the challenge, I noted my 5 reasons for doing this. They were:
To built mental and physical strength
To improve health
To satisfy curiosity
To lose a few pounds
To gain knowledge
I never quite understood the merits of journaling, but having gone through this exercise has made me a believer. All of the above have been achieved and I have YOU to thank. I put my goals in writing and made myself accountable to you because I knew I’d get lazy, stop keeping notes and lose my drive (proven by my long list of unfinished projects). So, if you have a goal in mind, I highly recommend putting it in writing, talking about it and keeping it top of mind until you get there. When you get there (and I know you will!), the possibilities and potential that lie ahead for you are unlimited.
Lastly, this challenge and subsequent commentary aren’t about whether you should eat vegan or not, it’s more about mindfulness. We should stop more to savor, gaze upon, and slowly chew instead of ‘inhale’, devour and obliviously consume. What if we took a minute to think about where our food came from, what it’s made from and how it can nourish our body, would we choose differently? This is hard, I know, in the hurried world we’ve created but, so worth our time. This is our most important investment for the future of our children, our planet and ourselves. Let’s be engaged, patience and grateful for the choices we have.
by Michelle Berry