I can officially say that veganism is an incredible way of life. These past 30 days I’ve learned new ways to prepare food, making a lot of my favorite dishes using all fresh, plant-based ingredients. There were many attempts at new dishes, and to be honest, I didn’t win them all — but I sure made some lasting impressions!
Initially, I intended to slowly cut out non-vegan items from my diet, one at a time (as I mentioned in my first post about this). But that didn’t last long. After making my first week’s menu and shopping list, I felt inspired to jump right in. So, I went cold turkey and introduced my family to a whole new dietary lifestyle the next morning.
In the beginning I felt a little fatigued, especially during my early morning workout. I did a bit of digging and learned that my protein was low, which can trigger some exhaustion. It turns out that protein was, by far, my biggest challenge. I wasn’t as well versed in proteins outside of my norm: meat, fish and eggs. It’s not that it’s so difficult to get protein — but getting enough as a vegan does require a bit of dedicated attention. If you’re looking for vegetarian and vegan sources of protein this is a super handy list.
Dining out proved to be challenging when I was not at a vegan-friendly location, but let me give a shout out here to my husband for researching restaurants in Kansas City and providing our date nights at said locations. He welcomed this lifestyle change and played a big role in keeping me committed by encouraging me to make more recipes. I played around with spices and seasonings I never knew existed. I started introducing different ethnic foods and perusing vegan cookbooks.
One really important note: We kept our kitchen vegan-friendly throughout the 30 days and our children didn’t know any different. Our son is 4 1/2 years old — he was supportive and curious about everything I cooked. Our 1-year-old daughter just thinks everything is funny, and as long as it tasted good, she had no complaints.
Thru this vegan journey I have learned so much. One is that my body has never felt as good as it has being dairy-free, and I intend to remain as close to dairy free as possible. Lactose has always been a tough thing for me to digest and I just find I feel better and my body performs better without it.
Going vegan isn’t tough — not really. But it does take a lot of patience in the beginning. Being open to new things (and making sure those who dine with you are open as well) and leaning on resources is most helpful. I surrounded myself, both in person and via social media, with exposure to vegan recipes, resources and inspiration, which was key.
While I look forward to carrying on with some of the excellent vegan recipes I’ve made, I am planning to add a few non-vegan items back into my diet — maybe not on the daily, but as needed or as I see fit for my family. Committing to eating vegan for 30 days was a fantastic way for me to learn more about ways to use (and enjoy) healthy, plant-based foods, and I really encourage all of you to give it a try!
Even if you’re not a vegan, do you find yourself eating the occasional vegan meal? —Jennifer