Vegan(ism) Day 7 – The Final Day

Ah, Sunday. I thought I’d never get there (just kidding). I woke up feeling lazier than usual, but probably because the forecast called for a steady downpur of cold rain all day long. All I felt like doing was snuggling up in bed with my blankets and binging on netflix, but I promised to meet a friend for brunch. Luckily, I got to choose the restaurant and I selected a place that I knew had ample veggie options on the menu. I ended up with black bean burger and sweet potato fries. Sure, I know the fries (and possibly the burger) were both cooked in the same oil as the other meat dishes, but I feel like I made the best choice out of the options available (aside from just ordering a salad–which, I was a bit tired of eating straight produce by this point). I’m not really sure how to deal with the oil situation in restaurants. I mean, can you? It’s not really up to you how a restaurant cooks their food?  I mean, you don’t have to eat there? Sure, you could ask wait staff every intricate detail of how something is made, but at the end of the day, even they don’t control the cooks or policies of the kitchen staff…so there’s no guarantee.

That would stress me out having to deal with that every time I wanted to eat something out. Not that I eat out often (this past weekend was unusual), but still.

I feel like I could go on this super long tangent here about the quality of foods in restaurants (and grocery stores) and how that food is prepared, stored, served, etc, but there are enough food documentaries (concerning health) on netflix and I don’t feel like I need to waste the time to say what has already been said.

Anyway, I closed out the evening with pizza and a glass of wine. As I half watched the superbowl, I thought about how it would feel to wake up the next day (today–Monday since this is being posted super late) and not having to obsessively worry about what I was going to eat.

Some things I learned on this “journey”:

  1. A lot of food contains animal products, even foods you wouldn’t assume would, like some snacks, dressings and even drinks.
  2. Many restaurants aren’t vegan friendly and while they may carry a specific dish or alternative here and there, the variety is slim (you’re looking at one maybe two dishes at best-though, you can be creative with sides and ask swaps like nut milks or steamed veggies). Restaurants that do cater to vegans/vegetarians are limited in more suburban/rural areas.
  3. Just because you’re eating a “plant based diet”, doesn’t mean you’re being healthy. Many snacks that are vegan, aren’t healthy for you just because they’re vegan friendly (i.e. oreos, laffy taffy, etc.). Many meat and dairy substitutes are a clusterfuck of processed nonsense. So essentially, while you aren’t eating food with animal products in them, you’re eating a lot of chemicals with possible long term effects on your body (which is another issue within itself).
  4. Abruptly cutting out meat and dairy is a shock to the system and may (at first) cause you to feel fatigued (also cold and shaky). I’m not sure if this is because of withdraws or simply from being malnourished (as a newbie who isn’t eating properly, because I ate like shit).
  5. Piggybacking off of the point above, I learned that dairy is a pretty substantial part of my normal diet even though I already incorporated nut milks into my regular diet as opposed to drinking traditional cow milk  (and I didn’t used to think so).
  6. You’ll use the bathroom more frequently (no seriously).
  7. You’re more hungry between meals and snacks. It requires you to be far more creative in snack and meal options to keep hunger at bay (you’ll need protein–nuts, beans).
  8. Slip ups can occur if you don’t plan well.
  9. Shopping for vegan friendly foods doesn’t have to be expensive (with planning).
  10. Certain vegan friendly staples (like black beans) are inexpensive and can be used in numerous dishes.
  11. You’ll have some anxiety at first because you’re having to adjust your train of thought and approach eating differently
  12. There will be times where you just have to “sit things out” (i.e., office birthday parties, chili cook-offs, etc) and that’s ok.

 

Some positive benefits (that I experienced):

  1. I’m more mindful/clear headed
  2. I’ve increased my water intake quite a bit
  3. I’m more aware of what’s in the food I am eating and think to check before assuming anything
  4. I’m more sensitive to people with plant based diets (or any other non-mainstream diets).
  5. I saved money (mostly by not eating out as much)
  6. I feel like I’m not as bloated
  7. I don’t feel like I’m missing anything if I don’t eat meat with a meal now
  8. I lost about 3.5 pounds

 

Ok, ok…enough with the lists, enough with the rambling, enough with the analyzing. While I don’t particularly feel accomplished or like a “brand new person”, I am happy that I challenged myself to do this. While I don’t believe I could completely go vegan, I could do better about eating a more plant based diet whenever possible.

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Vegan(ism) Day 5 & 6

The last few days (Thursday and Friday) were fairly eventful, which caused me to spend quite a bit of time being social. As I mentioned previously, this “challenge” seemed “doable” to me because I also chose to socially isolate myself in the past week due to social exhaustion.

Friday, I did fairly well considering I was still ravishing hungry and increasingly drained. I didn’t partake in the office birthday celebration for my manager with the cupcakes I brought in and I primarily kept good pacing with the snacks that I bought (orange, grapes, cucumbers, humus). It was dinner that was going to be the true indicator for me on whether or not I was able to keep this going and I’m proud to say that I did alright. I went out for “Hawaiian cuisine” with a friend that night at a new place that just opened, and opted for a dish that contained zucchini noodles, seaweed, avocado, tofu, mangos, clementines and other assorted veggies. below is a photo. This not only was tasty as a VEGAN dish, but in general. I would order this even if I wasn’t trying to do this challenge.

POKE.jpg

Friday’s Meals:

Breakfast: Orange, Apple, Half a banana, water

Snack: cucumbers and humus

Lunch: Veggie sandwich, kettle chips, water

Snack: Grapes

Dinner: Poke & Noodles 


Saturday  is where things became increasingly complicated as I spent the entire day away from work/home and out of my routine. The day started off with a visit to the spa for a manicure with my mom. After the spa day, we decided to do brunch. We had been talking about doing this for a long before I considered doing this challenge, so instead of stressing about it, I figured I would just go along with it.

Well, there was a problem. We went to a crepes place. Crepes are made with eggs AND milk. Eggs and milk are both animal products. The restaurant had a healthier crepe alternative with buckwheat crepes, but the only difference was the flour used. As I drank my coffee (with almond milk), I studied the menu intentionally, constantly stalling to see what I could come up with. Practically every dish on the menu was a crepe and the only sides that were vegan friendly were potatoes (possibly sautéed in butter and duck fat–which is a NOPE), and fruit. Even the oatmeal contained, “cream”. I started to panic because I was starving and I didn’t feel like filling up on fruit and potatoes. I don’t even like potatoes that much!  I ended up just sucking it up and getting a strawberry filled crepe with bananas and eating around the crepe itself. I probably ate part of the crepe in the process.

For dinner, I met up with another friend for pizza. Before even heading to this place, I studied the menu pretty carefully and discovered that they offered a vegan cheese for a $2 up charge. My friend was very gracious and agreed to doing a veggie pizza with vegan cheese. It was surprisingly tasty.

Saturday’s Food:

Breakfast: Strawberries, bananas (from inside of a crepe), coffee with almond milk

Dinner: Woodfired Pizza with veggies and vegan cheese, water

Aside from the breakfast meltdown, Saturday went fairly well. I never realized just how complex it could be to select vegan friendly options from certain places without compromising the taste buds or desires of your loved ones. I didn’t have the heart to tell my mom that  I didn’t want to eat at the crepe place since it was our day out and those are her favorites.

I’ll write separately about the final day and how I feel about the challenge overall.

 

Vegan(ism) Day 4

Day damn four. I’m still hanging in there.

I had a particularly stressful day at work (yesterday) and found myself craving something super greasy and bad. I had depleted all of my reserve snacks (almost entirely produce) and even added a side with my soup at lunch (BBQ jackfruit), but I still found myself STARVING by the time I left work a little after 5. With about an hour’s drive home in afternoon traffic, I knew I’d be “hangry” by the time I made it there.

On top of things, I had to make a stop at Kroger to pick up a cake for a co-worker’s birthday celebration that we’re having today. Normally, this is an easy task and not one I put entirely too much thought into. Get the cake and dip out. BOOM. Yesterday was different though. I was hungry and approaching this task as someone attempting to live a vegan lifestyle.

As I strolled through the deli/bakery section, I found myself picking up various items to see if they were “vegan friendly”. Newsflash (sarcasm) almost none of them were. I think the only things I came across that I could eat were some assorted flatbreads and vegetable sushi rolls. Everything else either had eggs, meat or cheese in it. Even the soups and side dishes (like creamed spinach, mashed sweet potatoes, salads–but I knew all of these things contained no vegan friendly components). Was I up for supermarket sushi that had probably been sitting out since that morning?

Nope.

I wasn’t in there for me, but I couldn’t help but to make the trip about me. All I wanted was some really shitty comfort food and I couldn’t think long or hard enough to come up with anything substantial outside of eating an entire bag of kettle chips. I grabbed the cupcakes (which I won’t be able to eat) and meandered over to the condensed section of “Plant based alternatives” of the refrigerated produce section. There were an assortment of nut milks, humus, nut based yogurts, dairy free “cheeses”, plant-based oils and soy crumbles (oh boy).  I must have stood there blankly for about ten minutes before I came up with the idea of buying a block of dairy alternative cheese (daiya medium cheddar style) because I remembered that I had a package of soy crumbles just WAITING to be eaten at home. This called for vegan friendly nachos (drool).

I admit, I was kind of hesitant to buy the “cheese”, especially since my first encounter with the daiya brand was about 5-6 years ago when I purchased a bag of Mozzarella Style Shreds and was disappointed when I realized it tasted like shredded styrofoam. Call me what you want….maybe I didn’t eat it properly (I think I put it on a salad), or maybe I didn’t store it properly and it expired…there could be an assortment of reasons why I didn’t like it, but I just didn’t like it and I’ve stayed away from these types of “cheeses” ever since. So imagine my interest being sparked when I saw that this brand sells the “cheese” in a block!

I got home and cooked the soy crumbles. They cook a little quicker than actual ground beef (or turkey/chicken as I prefer) and dries out if you’re not careful, so I decided to marinate it in fresh salsa so that the crumbles could absorb the flavor from it. My only other experience with soy crumbles was the time I tossed them in chili to “trick” my dad into eating vegetarian chili (we put actual cheese on it, so it wasn’t vegan). While the crumbles were doing their thing, I sliced up about a third of the “cheese block” and popped a small cube in my mouth. To my astonishment, it actually tasted CHEESE LIKE. It was creamy and savory just as you’d expect cheese to be. I was in heaven. I tossed the cheese blocks into the pan with the soy crumbles expecting it to quickly melt (like actual cheese), but it didn’t. The cheese seemed to be melting in “time lapse” motion. After about 8 minutes of this, I grew inpatient, took the cheese out of the pan (it was softer now, just not melted), tossed it into a bowl and put it in the microwave for 30 seconds. BOOM. melted cheese!

The vegan “nachos” ended up not being half bad (so ok, I mostly made a “cheesy”, “meaty” dip of sorts and just dipped the chips in there. I could have probably chopped up peppers and onions to toss in to, but I was too lazy). The soy crumbles had a bit of an odd aftertaste, but the “cheese” helped to mostly mask it. I became full a lot quicker than I anticipated with the soy crumbles, “cheese” and chips. I was–dare I say it, satisfied?

Here is what I ate yesterday:

Breakfast: 1 small apple, 1 banana, water, coffee with almond milk creamer

Snack: 1 orange, water

Lunch: Red Roasted Pepper & Tomato Bisque, 1/2 cup of BBQ jackfruit, water

Snack: Cucumbers, humus and grapes, water

Dinner: Vegan nachos (soy crumbles, cheese and chips), Halo Top (dairy free), water

 

 

Vegan(ism) Day 3

Day 3 down.

I’m almost halfway through this challenge and I have to say that I’m proud of myself for sticking to it. Granted, I haven’t really been “challenged” this week as I’ve kind of been a social hermit for the first time in months (I’ve been out and “social” just about every night since mid-November) and there hasn’t been an abundance of food at work (for meetings, celebrations, etc). All in all, it’s been a fairly “easy” week in that regard. I believe the real challenge starts when you have to think carefully about your food choices when you’re away from home and your daily routine.

Some challenges I HAVE come across so far:

  1. As I mentioned yesterday, I’ve been having a difficult time with variety in my diet and because of my choices, I’ve found myself to be unusually hungry between meals (even when incorporating snacks). I decided I needed to switch it up and add additional foods into my day to calm my hunger. I researched the interwebs for vegan friendly snacks (I literally typed, “vegan foods”) and took note. One of the things I really wanted to try was vegan cheese, so after work, I made a trip to Whole Foods (I threw the bag of chips in because my stomach was eating itself).

    The trip was successful, but I need to make it a point not to go when I’m already hungry as hell.

    whole foods

  2. Another challenge has been dealing with extreme fatigue. I feel a bit more zapped of energy more so than usual. I believe TheOdds1out mentions this in his vegan challenge video too. I’m getting the same amount of sleep and physical exercise, I just feel really drained. I’m going to attribute this to not taking vitamins as I do this challenge, but who knows.

Here is what I ate yesterday:

Breakfast: Chex (Corn) cereal, unsweetened coconut milk, 1 medium banana, coffee with almond milk creamer, water

Snack: 1 medium orange, water

Lunch: Red Pepper & Tomato bisque (made with unsweetened coconut milk), cucumbers, spicy humus, green grapes, water

Snack: small sweet potato (no toppings)

Dinner: Subway veggie delite, 1 slice vegan cheese, kettle chips (vegan friendly), sparkling strawberry and pineapple water

Dessert: Halo Top Non-dairy ice cream

 

On to day 4…

Vegan(ism) Day 2

Eating a vegan diet today seemed fairly easy. I found myself mostly eating produce as I have it ingrained in my mind to never overdo it on refined carbs, regardless of WHAT diet I’m on.

I ate many of the same things I ate yesterday, which allowed my mind to focus in on other things. Here is what I ate today:

Day 2’s meals see Day 1’s meals.

One thing I HAVE noticed in the past two days is that I’m hungry much quicker between meals than I used to be. Usually from lunch to dinner I’m fine (unless I have plans after work or I’m working late). I think part of my mistake has been not eating a ton of protein in my meal choices. I’ve been too lazy to think that far ahead.

I took some time today while things were quiet at work to look up some vegan recipes to get an idea of how to incorporate a little more protein in my diet and I stumbled across the: It doesn’t taste like chicken website, which has TONS of really great ideas. One thing I’m struggling with understanding is how to make Tofu taste like anything other than soggy rubber. I remember eating it several years ago and it tasting horrible. Perhaps this was because of the way that it was cooked (or not cooked), but it definitely left me unsatisfied, so I’m hesitant to give this a go again, which is why I haven’t purchased any.

Another thing I’m hesitant about trying are vegan cheeses. I tried some sort of vegan cheese a few years back and it tasted like shredded Styrofoam, but I’ve heard vegan cheese has come a long way since then.  I believe the kind I had was soy based and I already have a love hate relationship with soy (soy milk makes my throat swell up). In my research, I came across several articles like this one, which explains and rates certain vegan cheeses that are out right now. I foolishly didn’t know you could make cheese out of nuts. Sounds intriguing. Perhaps I’ll make a little trip down the street to Whole Foods this week to pick up some vegan cheese of my own.

Anyway, hopefully tomorrow I get it together with this hunger issue. The last thing I want to do is to eat more than I typically would while NOT being vegan.

 

Vegan(ism) Dia Uno

When we last left, our faithful hero was contemplating taking the 7 day vegan challenge. I’m happy to report that I made a shopping list and got the “goods” for the week. Some of the staples I bought were:

  • Jackfruit
  • Vegan Butter
  • (Unsweetened) Coconut Milk
  • Almond milk coffee creamer
  • “Chick’n” Tenders
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Vegetable stock
  • A Gang of Produce

Aside from the jackfruit, vegan butter, almond milk creamer and the “Chick’n” Tenders, I typically buy and incorporate the other items in my diet on a regular basis.

Day one doing the vegan challenge is done and I don’t feel super deprived right now. This is what I ate today:

Breakfast: 1 small green apple, 1 medium banana, 1 TBSP of no-sugar added, natural almond butter, water

Lunch: Red pepper and tomato bisque (made with unsweetened coconut milk) with chopped roasted peppers, mushrooms and celery folded in, unsweetened natural apple sauce, water

Snack:1 orange, half a cup of cucumbers, water

Dinner: Jackfruit BBQ sandwich (vegan appropriate BBQ sauce), 1 small sweet potato with vegan butter , sparkling strawberry pineapple water

In a nutshell, it wasn’t difficult to stick to a vegan diet today (based on what I brought to work). What was difficult was taking the added few seconds here and there to consider if something was truly vegan or not. This came into play this morning when I started to make coffee. After realizing that I didn’t bring my almond milk creamer, I started to grab a “non dairy creamer” at work only to realize it still contained “traces of milk”. A product called, “milk derivative” is in the powdered “non dairy creamer”. Apparently there is a difference between “non dairy creamer” and “dairy FREE creamer” (i.e. the almond milk creamer). Noted.

noted

Anyway, I anticipate this week being doable, but mostly because I’m intentionally scaling back on being overly social (which helps in regards to eating a vegan diet I assume–especially if you don’t frequent places that have vegan/vegetarian friendly menus). I’m curious to see how I feel about this 7 days from now.

Weight Loss & Such

So for the past year or so, I’ve done pretty well with losing/maintaining weight. When I went for my physical a few months ago (right before I had lunch with this goofball–bad idea), my doctor was amazed that I had lost 50 lbs between February and November. She was also amazed to see that it seemed like my anxiety/depression was starting to level out thanks to proper medical management (little did she know I was faking the mental health aspect of my “progress” at the appointment).

Anyway, she asked how I did it and I simply told her I just paid more attention to what/how much I ate and *tried* to incorporate some sort of exercise into a few days of my week. Walking, running, dancing (badly), sex at one point…you know, things of that nature.

Of course, some recent events in my life have kind of derailed my focus in this area of my life and my focus at one pointed needed to be, “Did you eat something today? You need to eat.” or “Why are you eating that junk? Can’t you eat something non-processed“. Understandably, I needed to focus on taking care of my heart and mental/emotional health before even attempting to take on anything else of this consistent magnitude..so I sort of gave myself a pass through the holidays so as long as ate “something” everyday, because a few months back, I didn’t have much of an appetite at all.

Well, I weighed myself the other day for the first time since November and somehow, I’ve managed to maintain my weight even though I’ve completely come off of my health kick routine. Before I dated my ex, I had reduced my sugar intake, alcohol and coffee consumptions and most processed food (In fact…funny story, on our first date after he took me for beer and dinner, he also treated me to ice cream. The sugar content in the ice cream was so heavy that I got physically sick off of two spoonfuls).  I felt better during that time period than I ever had in my entire life and I’d like to get back there. I had more energy, I slept better and I was genuinely content. It also helped my anxiety and depression (which seemed to go dormant at the time).

I have no idea how I’ve even managed to maintain weight, let alone not gain any, but I guess lately even though I’ve been eating terribly, I’ve really only been basically eating one meal a day, just divided over different periods of the day. Take for instance the brunch I attended last Saturday… The sandwich and sweet potato fries I ordered was my first meal of the day. I consumed half of it there, walked around the perimeter of the art museum for 3 hours and ate the other half before heading out to game night later that evening, where I walked around a lot downtown. The day before that, I nibbled on produce at work (instead of eating lunch), because we had a two hour delay and I wanted to actually save room to savor the BBQ I planned to have later with the guys later (which I still didn’t finish) and last night, I went out for gourmet burgers and fries with my family, but again, I ate half of it and outside of an apple, it was basically the only thing I ate that day. So I guess the “give and take” method might be saving me right now.

Regardless, I still don’t feel “well” though and I’d like to. I need some sort of shock to my system. Like a reset of sorts. Ideally, I’d like to lose an additional 15-20 lbs and I think that’s possible if I get back on track.

While being super lazy on Sunday, I watched some youtube videos from bed. One of my more recent favorite youtube channels is the “TheOdd1sout“. He’s a super funny guy who uses animation to tell everyday stories from his life (the sooubway one is one of my favorites). Anyway, in one of his videos he describes the, “7 Day Vegan Challenge Baby (solves all your problems)”. In the video, he discusses how he took the challenge to eat a vegan diet for 7 days. See the video below:

While I found the video to be funny, I’ve been seriously thinking that challenge is something I’d like to do just to see if I can do it. I feel like it would be difficult, but it would help me to be more creative with food choices in situations where I’m attempting to eat a more plant based diet. Plus, it’s only a week, so by the time I got tired of it, It would be over.

I think I’m going to give this a shot as soon as my paycheck hits later this week–because I know some of this food may be pricey. I’ll have to write about it when I start and finish.

All I Want to Do is Eat

I have no idea what’s wrong with me, but lately (within the past 1-2 weeks), all I’ve wanted to do was eattttttttttt. Granted, I “eat”, but I’ve wanted to eat legit super shitty food…like this cookie bar I’m currently smashing after eating a BLT sandwich leftover from a meeting at work yesterday.

patrick

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