“Project vegan” has been underway now for 5 days, so instead of writing about what I’ve eaten the last few days, I want to share some insight to the “actual” vegan world. I’d like to introduce a colleague of mine who has been vegan for many years.
Meet Tammera, we met about two years ago and she has really opened my eyes to the vegan world. The day it hit me is when I picked up Tammera and her coworker a couple of candy bars for all of the assistance they provided me throughout the week. Of course when I arrived with their treats, I didn’t realize vegans couldn’t have the milk chocolate bars I bought, that was a definite failure on my part.
When I first met Tammera I was afraid to ask anything about the lifestyle in fear of being attacked by some crazy animal rights activist who might throw paint on me for wearing leather. Unlike the immediate perception I had of vegans, I was able to have some great conversations with Tammera about veganism and why she became a vegan, all of which were very interesting. Tammera quickly cleared up the bad perception and was very open to talking about Ag and food issues.
So enough of my rambling, here’s a little about veganism from an actual vegan (not a two week vegan).
I’m a vegan who doesn’t like salads and yet, I manage to survive. One of the biggest misconceptions I hear is that salads are all vegans eat but that’s simply not true. There’s a whole plethora of great tasting options available for junk food junkies, health nuts and everyone in between. Going vegan has been a journey for me. If I had started 100% vegan like David has, I know I wouldn’t have lasted 2 weeks. My transition has been more of a blessing than a sacrifice.
I started out being a vegetarian in 2003 after researching what animals went through before ending up on my plate, and knew immediately I could no longer eat meat. Choosing what to eat wasn’t easy because my whole life I ate the typical American meal of meat, potatoes and microwaved frozen vegetables. I usually only ate the vegetables when I ran out of meat and potatoes on my plate and was still hungry. I knew my vegetarian decision wouldn’t last long if I didn’t find a new way to eat and fast. I tried tofu and hated it. I tried various meat substitutes like veggie burgers and fakin bakon and while these products were OK, they still left me unsatisfied. I bought some vegetarian cook books and that’s when I had my “eureka!” moment. I don’t need to eat a meat substitute, potatoes and microwave frozen vegetable for dinner. There’s a whole world of unique and wonderful tasting foods just waiting for me! I dove in and found a new way to cook and eat and guess what, I LOVE TOFU! I also love vegetables!
Unfortunately, I still hate salads.
I had a few vegan friends and they talked about their food choices but one thing I knew for sure is I could NEVER, EVER give up cheese and ice cream. After sharing some delicious meals with them, I tried a few online vegan recipes just for fun. The dishes I made were so flavorful that I found I was gradually eating less and less cheese. I tried vegan ice cream and found that Soy Delicious Purely Decadent and Trader Joe’s “ice cream” sandwiches tasted better than regular ice cream! I don’t have the space to go into all the reasons behind choosing to go vegan but I found that since I was eating so little cheese at this point, I might as well give it a try. It was such a surprisingly easy transition that I’ve never looked back!
I noticed many health improvements. My skin felt great, I lost weight and I had so much more energy than before. I’m in my forties and I’ve never felt better! People always want to know where I get my protein from. Tofu, beans, soymilk, nuts, even spinach and avocado are great protein sources.
Another great benefit is the cost. Eating vegan is so much cheaper than eating a meat and dairy based diet. About the only drawback that I still occasionally experience is eating out. I have my favorite restaurants of course but there are times that I’m invited to non-veg friendly establishments. Sometimes the servers and chefs are helpful and I have a great meal but there have been times when the server just stares at me like I’m from another planet. Oh well, there’s always salads!
Here’s some informative websites if you’re interested:
www.vegan.com. This site has a lot of great vegan information and resources.
www.happycow.net. This site has a restaurant search engine for almost any area.
http://www.peta.org/living/vegetarian-living/accidentally-vegan.aspx. One of the best sources for everyday vegan foods. Even Oreo cookies! Who knew!
If you have a chance, give Tammera a shout out in the comments below for acting as a guest blogger for #DandDGoVegan