365 Days Of Vegan Eating

365 days of vegan eating. Actually, it's probably been more like 358 days of eating vegan what with our deliberate consumption of pizza, the few accidental times when we found out we'd eaten animal product, and the time when Jane was purposefully given something to eat that wasn't vegan (by someone who knew better, no less). However many days it's been that we've actually succeeded at being vegan, today marks the one year anniversary of our conversion to a vegan diet.

I have a confession to make. When we decided we were going to eat vegan, I thought to myself that over time we would settle on a mostly-vegan plan -- and that once or twice a month we would go out for some sashimi or lobster, or a turkey burger. I thought to myself that having that "out" would make the "sacrifice" of eating vegan palatable. I didn't share my thinking with Jane, I just figured it would play out that way. When we went vegan, however, we jointly decided that we were going to allow ourselves Thanksgiving. It has always been a special day for us and we had our own traditional menu. We knew that we would feel "deprived" if we were not having our poblano chili-cornbread stuffing, or turkey, or mashed potatoes laden with butter and heavy cream. It just wouldn't be Thanksgiving without all the old standards. But a funny thing happened. By the time Thanksgiving actually rolled around, we were committed to our new way of eating, the switch had been flipped. We felt weird about buying a turkey. We simply couldn't contribute to that cruelty, and so we had a vegan Thanksgiving. Yes, we missed the turkey and the gravy... but the sides were delicious and more than satisfying. It was at that point that I truly understood we were vegans.

People are often scared to go vegan because they believe their diets will be limited, and that it's too hard. I will admit that our first few forays into the supermarket were tough. Shopping wasn't a quick stop anymore. It often took us an hour to get through our list, reading labels, and looking for alternatives as our old staples were often off-limits. And some of the ingredients we were looking for, weren't readily available. (Good luck finding Kombu in your local Ralph's.) But over time that's all changed. We've become habituated to shopping for vegan products. Many of the things we buy are staples, so there's no need to read the label every time we restock. (And we probably could have done our shopping much quicker if we'd simply done some research at home.) As for a limited diet... eating vegan has resulted in a much more varied menu than we used to eat.

How are we faring a year later? Neither of us had any real health issues to speak of, so we can't proclaim that our health has improved dramatically. I had my physical in November, no marked improvements, no deterioration. Neither Jane nor I felt badly before, and we're not feeling badly now. As I mentioned recently, we dropped a few pounds effortlessly at the onset of our change in eating. Things have stabilized and we're maintaining... we both could stand to lose a bit more weight, but Jane's addiction (SnapPea crisps) and her Daring Bakers ventures might be responsible for that not happening easily. (Or could it be middle age or a sedentary lifestyle?)  The only change that we notice is what is and is not on our plates these days.

As for food, we don't find ourselves feeling deprived anymore. We've often said we will reserve the right to eat pizza when we go back to New York, but I wonder if we will when we're actually there. We still have the odd craving for things we'd eaten for decades. More often than not it's driven by marketing campaigns, or strategically placed items in the grocery store. Occasionally, we'll get a whiff of something and say to ourselves, "oh, I'd love some ________," but those instances are usually just a moment or two and they pass without any real sense of deprivation.

It's been an interesting journey so far. We've learned a lot and made some wonderful, supportive friends in the vegan community. These days, when I hear people exclaim that a vegan diet is too hard to follow, I look at Jane and myself -- we're just ordinary people... we have no special strengths or willpower. If we can do it, anyone can.

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Comments

  1. Congratulations you guys! I know just you’re feeling, because I also became vegan this time last year- on July 9th, to be precise. That was the day I watched ‘Earthlings.’

    Isn’t it funny, for the first little while, it feels like being vegan is a real ‘achievement’. But you very quickly realise that it’s become a natural part of you and you can’t imagine being anything else :)

  2. Wow, I want your grocery store. A full grocery trip routinely takes 45 minutes to an hour every time and that’s with no label reading and no looking for new things – just re-stocking from the bulk bins, grabbing some fresh and frozen produce, and getting the few isolated shelf things.

    Your grocery store must rock!

    Congrats on a vegan year.

  3. Congratulations on an entire year of veganism :-)

  4. Thank you for such a well-expressed and well-written article on your first year as a vegan. I am sure we all went through the same feelings you describe and were genuinely surprised to find that veganism actually widens boundaries, rather than narrowing them. Congratulations.

  5. I think you express very well what a majority of vegans experience: After divesting themselves as much as practical from participation in animal cruelty, they realize that the deprivation they feared is actually something they left behind; that one’s soul is deprived when knowingly inflicting avoidable harm on others. Through veganism, our hearts and souls as well as our bellies can be full.

    I think your last sentence, and Dot’s comment, are important too. Ethical veganism is not about heroics; it’s simply being a decent human being. Anyone with reasonable access to vegan food and able to make their own eating decisions can do it.

  6. Yeah for the two of you! Every year will bring new experiences so rest assured that you won’t get bored with vegan eating.

    For example, this year I’m trying to reduce analogs and discover what lingers on the bottom shelves of the grocery aisles (lots of interesting vegan stuff down there by your feet).

    You’ll decide what your next frontiers are. They’ll all be fun!

    Glad I took the time to visit your blog since we typically only see each on Twitter (@dreadlocks)

  7. Happy anniversary! I’m into my third month now, where does the time go?

  8. Congrats on your veganniversary!

  9. rawwealth.blogspot.com says:

    Awesome site here. I enjoyed the reading. I will come back and visit!
    Alma

  10. a very sincere congratulations. i love how your blog is so honest and documents what it is like making the switch to veganism. well done!

  11. Hi Dot,
    Happy Anniversary to you too (tomorrow). Earthlings probably cemented our conviction to remain vegan forever. And yes, the first few weeks/months everything seems deliberate. But in a very short time, being vegan becomes your natural m/o.

    Hi Sparrow,
    I’m not sure if it’s the grocery store, or our intolerance for shopping. Plus we’re only buying food for 2 and most of our weekly food comes from our farmers market anyway. So that certainly cuts down on the length of time we need to spend at the store.

    Hi Tempyra,
    Thanks. It’s been a relatively easy accomplishment.

    Hi Kate,
    Thanks. Ideally, others can learn from our experiences and know that it’s not such a struggle… and they, in turn, will try the vegan path for themselves.

    Hi Gary,
    You’re correct, it’s not about heroics. As far as we’re concerned it is the ethically correct answer. However, people have to get to that place on their own (we can encourage them, but if they don’t embrace it themselves…) What we hope to convey is that there may be a few hurdles, but it’s a relatively easy change to make.

    Hi Natasha,
    Thanks for stopping by. Re the analogs, we’ve been spending a lot of time with quinoa and chickpeas lately… and loving them.
    Make sure to tweet about what you find at your feet. I’ve noticed that’s where they tend to keep the bags of dried beans for very little money!

    Hi Kate,
    Congratulations on your 3 months. I think the 3 month period was when we really started to get comfortable. There were still issues, but we had easy fall-backs, and had started to get comfortable in restaurants.

    Hi Elaine,
    Thank you.

    Hi Alma & QuarryGirl,
    Thank you very much for the kind words.

  12. re: analogs

    I made some millet chili last night and almost laughed when I looked at the end product because it looked like a bunch of ground beef in my chili. It doesn’t taste like beef (it tastes *much* better, thankyouverymuch) and the nutrient profile is totally different (not sure how much protein is in millet without looking it up), but it was just amusing to see what it looked like. The millet took on the colors of the spices (mostly brown) and has that crumbly look like the very tiny crumbles of food-service beef.

    I wonder if I put a bowl of this on the table in front of someone if they’d look at it and think it was beef chili.

    re: shopping

    I’m only shopping for two of us as well. It occurs to me that I don’t go weekly, though. More like monthly. So that probably explains the time thing. (I sometimes bicycle over for more produce but usually get it at the co-op and the farmer’s market between full grocery trips. It’s an eight-mile round trip so I usually only cycle over for produce when I can’t find anything good on my side of town.)

    When I go to the grocery, I’m getting stuff out of pretty much every bulk bin – black eyed peas, chickpeas, millet, quinoa, black beans, pinto beans, etc. etc. etc. – and often pounds of each. The cart is really hard to push by the time I’m done. Just the weight of the cart is probably slowing me down. LOL

  13. Congratulations on what sounds like a great year! I enjoy your blog and seeing Jane in the DB forums. Thanks for posting!

  14. Hi Sparrow,
    The millet chili sounds interesting. Before we were vegan Jane used to make our chili with ground turkey. No one could ever tell. I think the spices make the meat indistinguishable.
    We’ve used TVP since going vegan to give us the texture of meat, but haven’t tried it on omni’s to test their reaction. But mostly, Jane makes a multi-bean chili… and we love the way it tastes.

    Hi Jennifer,
    Thanks. Yes, it’s been a good year for us. We both feel like we accomplished something worthwhile. (Jane says hi too.)

  15. Did you guys like the TVP? I’ve never liked it . . though I admit that the last time I cooked with TVP was back in the late 1980s and it may have changed a lot since then. I thought it tasted kind of like cat food (or at least what I remembered cat food tasting like from when I was a pre-schooler and tried eating it.)

  16. Hi Sparrow,
    Actually, yes, we do like the TVP, but the only time we’ve ever eaten it is smothered in tomato based sauces. I don’t know if you prepare them all the same way, but the kind we’ve bought you have to soak in boiling water for awhile, until it’s absorbed. Jane’s tried it plain and says you wouldn’t want to eat it like that.

  17. I gained quite a bit of weight when I was a vegan for a couple of years. I ate very healthy too, no chips or sncaky things. I think it was all of those carbs. So back to vegatarianism for me. Eggs, yogurt and lowfat cheese are back for now. I have lost all of the weight except for 7 pounds.

  18. Hi Autumn,
    Wow, you’re the first person we’ve heard say that. Although I’m sure you’re not the only one. For us, our meals tend to be lower in fat and calories than they were before we went vegan. We attribute that to the weight loss.
    Congrats on the weight loss.

  19. Autumn — Jane wanted me to mention that she notices when we eat a lot of pasta the scale creeps back up a bit.

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