It's been exactly one week since I decided to be vegan for this month. It's really hard to describe "how it's going" because there have been so many layers to my experience so far. So, I'm going to break it down into three parts: Reactions, Experience, Helpful Resources/Recipes.
I think the biggest shock this week was the attention I received for saying I was going vegan. On the very FIRST DAY I got an email from someone who we now refer to as "Sister Crazy" who told me I was as bad a Pharisee in the New Testament and that abstaining from meat was as big of a deal as taking cocaine or smoking cigarettes. She was apparently "disgusted and disturbed by my vile lifestyle." Haha! I laughed really, REALLY hard when I read it. Above is what I picture her looking like.
I also had several scriptures thrown at me, that, in retrospect were great to reevaluate and think about. You can read my response and Sister Crazy's email here on Liz's blog
, because our response's were the same.
There was also the girl in the grocary store that freaked me out. She was our cashier. I was obviously buying Tofu and Almond Dream ice cream and the like, and she asked about it. When I told her I was vegan for the month, she preceded to tell me how meat was made for us to eat and if we were lower on the food chain, we would be eaten. "I love my steak and my cows!" Normally, this wouldn't offend me. I would just shrug it off. But I was bugged because this girl had no idea why I was choosing to be vegan. Maybe it's because I was a hard-cord activist. I mean, for all she knew, the things she was saying could have been really offensive! Moments like these all week are what make feel a pain for my activist-vegan friends that have to put up with uninhibited offensive-to-them comments.
Meanwhile, I've also received a lot of support from my friends and family and even quite a few strangers in the blog world. I realized that most people actually don't know what a vegan is at all, and others think it's the same as being vegetarian. Still others think that I'll be out this weekend dumping fake blood on fur coats. I thought that eating vegan was just going to be a change in the way I eat, but I've found that there is a whole misunderstood culture attached to my food habits! In fact, I'm going to be presenting on it in my diversity class this semester.
For me, being vegan has, surprisingly, not changed my lifestyle completely. Before I started, I did not drink cow's milk (mmm, almond milk), and I have been taking a daily pre-natal and B12 vitamin for months now.
I did find, however that I eat meat way less sparingly than I thought. I would probably tell someone: "Yeah, I don't eat a lot of meat anyway" but that's true! I would eat sausage at breakfast, a turkey sandwich for lunch, and some sort of meat main dish or side dish for dinner. Even if I nixed out two of those, I was still eating meat about everyday. I just didn't realize this because it would be hidden somewhere, like in my soup for lunch. Honestly, I didn't realize how much of it I ate until I stopped. I'll be honest- I'm kind of grossed out by that.
Milk and cheese in products has been the hardest. There are a few reasons for that.
1. Vegetarian products are usually covered in cheese to hide weird tasting things.
Example: the garden burgers I just got that have mozerella cheese in them.
2. Free food is offered to you constantly as a poor college student and turning it down can get you some pretty suspicious looks.
3. I just really love cheese.
Mostly this week, I've just been hungry. I was under a false pretense that being vegan meant I could not eat anything I like. I figured, if I wanted it, I probably couldn't have it. I didn't do any research on vegan meals, so I had some zucchini and lettuce in my fridge and was worried. Usually we have way more produce than that but we hadn't gone shopping. Dumb, when you're changing lifestyles, but like most people, I didn't know what a vegan ate.
After finding a lot of good vegan blogs and checking out a book from the library (one of only FOUR vegan cookbooks found at any library in this town!) I found that my food options actually greatly INCREASED rather in decreased. I've had a new smoothie combination almost everyday this week for breakfast. Way better than an unsatisfying bowl of Cap'n Crunch, and something I've never tried before. I also baked my own bread (God bless Kitchenaid's!) and so I have had homemade bread all week!
The point is, after diving just a little bit deeper, I'm no longer hungry.
I've found the following resources totally helpful this week:
is a search engine for vegetarian and vegan recipes. After attempting to make peanut butter cookies that turned into peanut butter biscuits, this website helped me find a better recipe :)
Whole Food Vegan Momma
is probably the most helpful vegan blog I've found so far. She's really good at helping you start the lifestyle change and applies her eating habits to a total lifestyle saying:
"A whole foods vegan lifestyle is about nurturing. Nurturing yourself so that you might take care of & be able to serve others. Nurturing your children & loved ones so that they can blossom & grow as they are meant."
I'll share the recipe she posted yesterday that we ended up having for dinner last night. It was obnoxiously good for a blustery autumn day!
Butternut Squash & White Bean Stew
This soup is perfect for a chilly autumn evening. It really is a meal in a bowl, and could easily be eaten alone. I love sneaking cabbage into soups whenever I can, because my kids and husband never know it's there! The secret is the chopping it very finely (food processor does this best), but not to the point of pureeing.
- 1 medium onion, slivered, then chopped lightly
- 3 c. finely chopped green cabbage
- 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed
- 1 14 oz. can no-salt diced tomatoes
- 3 cups water
- 2 heaping TBS. "chickenish" seasoning (vegan vegetable bouillon also works)
- 2 TBS. tomato paste
- 1 tsp. dried rosemary, crushed
- 2 TBS. dried parsley (or use fresh)
- 1/2 tsp. salt (OPTIONAL--you can always salt your soup when you eat it to limit your sodium intake)
- freshly ground pepper to taste
- 2 cans (about 3 1/2 cups) great northern white beans, rinsed
On medium/high heat, saute onions for 5 or so minutes in a large pot, stirring every so often so onions don't stick. Add small amounts of water if necessary. Add remaining ingredients except for the beans. Turn up heat to high until a boil is reached. Cover, then turn down and allow to simmer on medium/low for 30-40 minutes, or until squash is soft/slightly firm. Add beans and stir. Serve with fresh cornbread, toast, or crackers.
My husband and my sister and her friend all put cheese on top and said it was really good, but I thought it was just fine with a side of cornbread.