Vegan Diet Final Update

Tim and I completed our new year's 12 day vegan diet challenge this past Wednesday and I think while we were both extremely proud for going the full distance, the end was a bit of a relief. I'll admit that while it was easy to get into the routine of eating vegan - it wasn't always fun. Not that eating should always be fun, but all sorts of foods definitely play a key role in both of our lives.

Moving forward, I have found some amazing new food options to incorporate/substitute into my more regular food diet which I will gladly say at this point will still include some dairy, eggs, and meat. As more ethical and local options for these types of foods are gaining popularity, I'm feeling better and better about the decisions we make each week at the market and grocery store.

Lessons I learned while eating the vegan diet:
  • The majority of processed foods contain some sort of animal product - it was almost funny how many things we thought might work out that in the end contained some sort of animal something. Definitely an eye opener about how the larger food system works. Whole foods are our best friends.

  • Chips & salsa, peanut butter on fruit or rice cakes, and pita with hummus have become my best snacking go to's. I will definitely be incorporating these healthy snacks into my regular diet moving forward.

  • As hoped, I tried foods that I'll now use as substitutes in my regular diet over some of the dairy I eat including soy milk and firm tofu. Both products I hadn't ventured into that seriously before but I was pleasantly surprised at how seamlessly they fit into my tastes.

  • I'm definitely up for the idea on some variation of "Meatless Mondays." While not completely ready to give up all meats, I'm looking forward to lessening the amount over time and continuing to eat thoughtfully from ethical sources when possible.
  • Friends and experts have great recommendations. When taking on a new venture like changing your diet, looking to those who have been there and done that is a huge help. We learned about so many different types of food options and great recipes from friends and recipe book recommendations.

  • Creativity is key. I remember a couple nights starting off with a basic pasta or grain base and surprising myself with how many different ingredients I could incorporate that still fit within the vegan guidelines.

  • While cooking and planning was fun for a while, it got tiring and stressful having to think so much about food at all times. This is where vegan prepared food, some processed options, and vegan specialty restaurants literally saved the day at key points. Shout outs to Ellwood Thompson's hot bar and Fresca on Addison for some amazing vegan pizzas.

All in all I'm so glad we took on this test. I have a new appreciation for those leading a strict vegetarian or vegan lifestyle more so now then ever before. This wasn't easy and taking on veganism as a true lifestyle change takes a strong person. We both struggled at times and felt over the moon at times. Most importantly, I learned so much over the 12 days and pushed myself to do something challenging through to the end. Thanks all for following during the journey and sharing your tips, advice, and knowledge. Find Tim's final thoughts here.
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  1. I think it is much easier to follow this type of diet when you have a private chef preparing amazing meals for you and you don't have to stress over it...I am waiting to become vegan or semi vegan when I can hire one!

    Good for you and thanks for all of the tips!


  2. Good for you Mary! It is hard to figure out what to eat and what is vegan and what isn't when first starting out. I think I had a hard time when I went Vegan and I had been a vegetarian my entire adult life. I'm impressed that you stuck with it for the 12 days.

  3. wow ! mary, that is impressive. I have been a vegetarian for the last 15 years. As an Indian, our cuisine offers a much broader choice , so the transition for me was not difficult.
    But, to go vegan would be tough even for me ! Good for you :)

  4. That's great that you followed through your vegan diet. I very rarely eat processed food and we mostly cook with whole food and fresh local produce. We sort of balance our meals and have red meat or poultry and pork 2 or 3 times a week. The other days we eat mostly vegetable based curries, tofu, lentils, pasta, seafood etc.

    I think it's alright to eat meat or appreciate it. Buying meat from ethical sources is probably the right thing to do.

  5. I appreciate your thoughtful post and commend you both for going the distance. It is not easy to always eat right when you are a vegan or a vegetarian.

    It does require a lot of planning, but that has become second nature to me now. I'm not sure I could do it if I did not work at home.

    I also try to be respectful of those that eat meat. My husband can always help me off my soap box if I become to preachy.

    I think your snacking choices are awesome!


  6. Thank you all for the support - I agree sometimes just following through with a set goal can be reward enough. I appreciate all of your words of wisdom along the way and am looking forward to new food journeys ahead.


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