Well, I’ve completed a 7-day week of the vegan challenge. I kept to it pretty strictly too, except for the whole wheat bagel I had when I was pressed for time and the Lick’s vegetarian chili I had today (which contained a little butter). There were a few things I found surprising…
First, going vegan was easier than I thought. I did away with the meal plan completely because I had at least a dozen recipes in my head to pull depending on my mood. I had veggie ground with whole wheat spaghetti and tomato sauce, chickpea/brown rice pilaf, tofu scramble with veggies, tofu with broccoli and soya sauce on top of couscous, black bean and whole wheat pita wraps, the list goes on. On one occasion, I walked into a West-Indian takeout place, thinking that the only thing vegan I could get would be some root vegetables. I purchased some fried (as in sauteed) plantain. I was later informed by my mother, who’s West-Indian, that I could have had channa and roti (curried chickpeas w/ an Indian-style tortilla), double (pretty much the same thing), roti with root vegetables or curried potatoes, or simply asked what was vegan/vegetarian. Now I know for next time.
My iron did not drop at all and I’ve put on a couple pounds in the last couple of weeks, which pleased my personal trainer. I find that since I’m no longer eating meat, my fear of food/eating has dissipated significantly. I can eat larger portions without feeling guilty or physical discomfort.
Now for the cons…
I made it a point not to go around telling people that I was — for the moment — vegan. I mentioned it to one of my neighbours when she asked what I was preparing for this coming Easter. She was surprised. Her words were, “Why? You’re so skinny already.” I mentioned to my mother that I was not interested in attending a vegetarian chili cook-off because I didn’t know what the crowd would be like/if I would fit in. She made some remarks about blacks not being into vegetarianism or something like that. I knew some people would find fault with my eating habits. I remind myself all the time of the primary reason for doing it (minimizing chronic illness and improving my health by alkalizing my body). It helps me stay on track.
Black beans. What can I say about them? They are the first beans I’ve come across that I have trouble digesting. I know they’re popular in vegetarian recipes but I’ve had them 2 or 3 times recently, have tried slow cooking and mixing them with other beans. They just don’t agree with me. Thank goodness there’s a wide variety of beans out there, right?
Lastly, I get bored of beans, veggie ground, and tofu sometimes. I know I don’t have to eat these things but since they’re a great source of protein, I feel compelled to. (Yes, I’ve read all about the “protein myth”) If I weren’t weight-training, I don’t think protein would be a concern for me. It’s also difficult for me to be around freshly cooked eggs, ham, fish… any animal product that has a distinct but pleasant smell. My 6-year-old asked me to make her scrambled eggs and sausage for breakfast the other day, and I just couldn’t do it. I insisted she eat the whole wheat hot-cross buns I gave her and added a few slices of cheese with some hot chocolate.
Overall, I don’t feel much different than when I eat meat. With the raw vegan diet, I experienced an increase of energy and mental clarity. Maybe that would return if I juiced more often. I can, however, get by on less sleep and no longer smell without deodorant. I have to credit spurilina (a supplement containing vitamin A, iron, B12, and lots of chlorophyll) for that as well.
In the next coming weeks, I’m going to try to get away from the meat substitutes and experiment with more exciting recipes (maybe lentils, soups, etc.). Someone recommended the book, “Color Me Vegan.” It has a lot of cool recipes I’m dying to try out. Like I said, I also plan on juicing more. Stay tuned