Focused Living, One Month at a Time

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Challenge #13, July 2012: EAGER VEGAN

I will eat only vegan this month – no dairy, eggs, or other animal products.

“It is deeply moving that the same food choices that give us the best chance to eliminate world hunger are also those that take the least toll on the environment, contribute the most to our long-term health, are the safest, and are also, far and away, the most compassionate towards our fellow creatures."  
-John Robbins, author of Diet for a New America and The Food Revolution

A Little Background
Since I turned vegetarian about 30 years ago, I have always wanted to experiment and try this further step.  My original reason for going veg was an episode of the TV show  20/20, which showed me the slaughterhouses and harsh conditions cows, pigs, and chickens are raised in, and I instantly decided to stop eating meat. Eventually I gave up fish too, as I got more into scuba diving over the last 16 years – it’s way more fun to look at marine life than to eat it, for me at least…The more I have read and researched about the environmental impacts and personal health impacts of eating meat over the years, the further I am convinced that I had made the right choice for me and my values.  I certainly don’t expect or advocate that everyone go veg, but for me it makes sense and I simply think that that most people (and the planet) would be better off if everyone tried to eat a little less of it – okay, end of mild rant.  Taking the next step to veganism was definitely worthwhile, and I learned a few things along the way.

How it Went
As an ovo-lacto veg, I do eat eggs (about twice a week) and dairy - basically cheese, many days a week – one of my biggest weaknesses!   On cereal, in smoothies, or for baking I use either rice, almond, or coconut milk, my current favorite, so no change required there.  And I don’t eat sour cream, cream cheese, or yogurt anyway.  I did miss eggs, less than I thought I would, and I definitely missed cheese –more on that later.  I enjoyed exploring and trying some new vegan recipes, like the amazing pizza in the photo.  It seems almost sacrilegious, a decent pizza without cheese?!  But this highly recommended flavorful fresh alternative really impressed me – I will definitely be making it again. 

A Few Hiccups
·      Label Reading – Do you have any idea how lengthy and surprising many of the popular energy bar ingredient lists are?  Sheesh!  I gobbled down a ZONE bar while driving the first day of the month, then when I parked, read the ingredients – corn syrup, milk solids (oops!), and other assorted not-so-natural items on the list – yuck!  So that experience made me start reading a lot more labels closely this month. 
·      Honey – It’s in sooooo many foods I like - granola, some energy bars, muffins, etc.  It is definitely an animal product, the excess of what bees are producing for their own consumption.  I actually ate a little of it as I enjoyed a KIND almond and coconut bar when I was at the office and starving with nothing else available – oops! Other times I needed a sweetener agave and stevia came to the rescue.
·      Cheese Cravings – yes I dearly missed it! I missed the flavor and texture, and I really thought this food would be my downfall.  But every time I got a hankering, I went for a few olives or a spoonful of peanut butter instead which helped.  Sorta.

Things I am Really Glad are Naturally Vegan
·      Most bread, crackers, potatoes and rice - yay carbs!
·      Earth Balance buttery spread – been using it for years and appreciated it even more this month
·      SOME dark chocolate – read labels carefully on this.
·      So many wonderful fruits and vegetables – really enjoyed all the extra helpings of delicious summer produce this month, thank you Farmer’s Markets.

Yes, as a matter of fact I did feel lighter (lost a few pounds without really trying) and actually more energetic – some of my longer and more strenuous workouts were not so tiring.  I now understand how and why some professional athletes like Brendan Brazier and others promote veganism, and can now easily answer that ubiquitous question, “So, how do you get your protein?   For me, this month made me realize going vegan isn’t difficult.  I will likely be eating less cheese and fewer eggs than previously, cooking vegan more often, and feel healthier because of it.  How about you - curious to try going vegan?  Why or why not?


  1. I have a colleague who is a longtime vegan. I could never hold to it because I loves me some omelette... and quesadilla... oh well. Enjoy your month. certainly going mostly-veg would be good for everyone, and you know my feelings toward corn syrup.

  2. Congrats on a month of veganism! It's nice knowing that it was easier than you expected.

  3. Hi Heather,
    I've never eaten beef, pork or poultry AT ALL my entire life--because I was born that way. I just didn't like meat. But I did eat dairy. Oh, did I eat dairy! And a few eggs and even fewer servings of fish. But last year, I covered a vegan cooking workshop for work. I went in order to write about it. And I did write about it. But I also fell in love with the food. Good golly, the food! The flavors. A fireworks of explosion for the mouth. Or, as we say here in Hawaii, "Broke da mouth." Mark Reinfeld (Vegan Fusion) teaches the workshops and immersions around the Hawaiian Islands, West Coast, Central America and Europe. If you get the chance, sign up. I cannot--CANNOT--recommend Mark highly enough. I've never liked food; I simply ate to live. But Mark puts together layers of flavors that cradle and nourish me like I've never experienced before. We can talk more about it later this week, and I can give you tips on where to eat veggie/vegan on Kauai!