Yes, you read that correctly. And as of tomorrow (Friday) morning, I’ll have been vegan for a week. If you’ve followed me on here since… geez… I think 2010, then you know that me doing 30 day challenges is nothing new. I’ve done vegetarianism, intermittent fasting, etc. and none of them were a big deal. So when Megan suggested we both go vegan for a month I thought, “what the hell, why not?”.

So for those of you who don’t know what veganism is, it is essentially vegetarian to the extreme. Not only do vegans not eat meat or fish, but they also don’t eat anything that comes from animals, often referred to as animal byproducts. So that means no eggs, cheese, milk, yogurt, etc. So it’s a fairly restrictive way of eating, but one that also, when done correctly, can be very healthy.

If you were one who followed when I went vegetarian for a month, then you know that I did a pretty awful job on it. I gained weight. I gained fat. I felt pretty lousy.

Why? Because I intentionally did it in a manner in which I imagined a majority of the people who go vegetarian would do it.  I picked up a bunch of processed, pseudo meat alternatives and other junk like that. I didn’t stick to whole foods very much. This time around, however, I’m (we’re) going about it in what I would consider the proper way. So far it has been very whole foods based with only a touch here and there of pre-packaged, processed stuff. So what exactly are we eating? I’ll break it down for you by meal and then I’ll offer up what I’ve learned so far, what I find easy/difficult, and how it has affected our shopping and social aspects of our lives.

So let’s start with what we’ve been eating:

Breakfasts: Now I’m an egg guy through  and through and have them almost every morning, but obviously I had to make a change for this month. A normal breakfast for me is usually some peppers, onion, and maybe some spinach cooked up in a pan and then throwing in 2-3 eggs and putting that on a piece of Ezekiel toast and usually a bit of avocado and hot sauce or salsa. I know to some that might sound like a lot of work, but when you have things pre-chopped and ready to go, it really only takes 5 minutes or less. So my alternative was to simply replace the eggs with extra firm tofu. The texture and nutrition are pretty similar and it hasn’t been a big deal at all. In fact we made breakfast tacos the other day and if I’d had my eyes closed, or just wasn’t paying any attention, I wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference. This has been really easy.

Lunches: This also hasn’t been too hard, but mostly because our routine hasn’t changed all that much. You see, normally we plan out our dinners for the week on Saturday or Sunday. We make a list of what we’ll need for each dinner and then go and pick up the ingredients. We like to try and make dinners that have double what we can eat so that we can simply take the leftovers to work the next day. Same story here. We have just been, for the most part, bringing leftovers to work. Again, no real change here except for the content of those meals. So what are they?

Dinners: Just like I’m assuming it is with you, this varies all over the place. Some examples of what we’ve made so far include the following:

  • Bean and rice stuffed poblano peppers
  • Vegan macaroni and cheese made with macaroni, sweet potatoes, carrots, nutritional yeast, and a couple other ingredients. It was pretty good.
  • Vegan tacos (we also make a really good tempeh taco that we made even before we started this)
  • Beyond Meat, vegan burgers (again, we’d had these before too and they are solid)

We also ordered in one night from Papa John’s a vegan pizza. It came with tomatoes, jalapenos, red sauce and…. that was it. But thankfully the garlic sauce they make is vegan so that helped it out a lot. Also, we had balsamic glaze in the fridge and drizzled that on the pie as well to add some extra flavor. And you guys know I’m a huge fan of pizza, so this one was tough. Or should I say, hard to swallow? See what I did there?

Snacks: Full disclosure, I’ve lost 2 lbs in the first week. And I think a big part of that is snacks. I usually keep my desk and mini fridge stocked with fruit, Greek yogurt, string cheese, cottage cheese, nuts, and beef jerky. And since I knew we were going to be doing this, I hadn’t stocked anything in a while (most of it being on the restricted list) and I simply haven’t had anything to eat. So I just have been hungry during the day. However…. Megan to the rescue. She made this AWESOME trail mix with pumpkin seeds, roasted soy nuts, dried cherries and raisins, and walnuts. Methinks the scale won’t continue trending down anymore.

So what have I/we learned so far?

  • Planning and preparation are critical. It’s not so easy when you haven’t prepared and are limited on what you can eat. You can’t just order up carry out Chinese or pizza. It takes a lot more thought than that (finding the vegan Papa John’s was a chore. We tried other places first, but it was kinda difficult).
  • You learn to read labels… very thoroughly. I was at a convenience store this past weekend and was hungry. Normally I’d pick up cheese and nuts or beef jerky or something to that degree and be on my way. Might even grab a protein bar. That wasn’t the case this time. I was scouring labels to see if I could have a bar and none of them worked. I had been eating a lot of nuts and was tired of them, so I ultimately settled on a banana. This is just one example of reading labels, but you can imagine that our grocery trips take a bit longer these days. And this is also why simply buying and eating whole foods is better/easier.
  • Um…. fiber. There’s a LOT of fiber. I’ll just leave it at that
  • Social get togethers take some thinking through. And it also puts a strain on the others around you. We went to a cookout with friends last weekend and had a great time. Purdue even went toe to toe against the reigning Heisman trophy winner. Well we ended up losing, but it was, for once in a VERY long time, a good showing and fun. Anywho, we made the aforementioned Beyond Meat burgers to be made on the grill and they were great. However, leading up to the party was plenty of back and forth texting about who was making what and whether or not it would accommodate us. That kind of sucked because we don’t want to put anybody out or require any special attention. Just one of those things to think about moving forward should we encounter it again.

I’m sure I’m leaving some things out with this, but my computer just dinged and told me to get off my ass and go for a walk, which I’ll save why I do that for another post at another time. Thanks for reading!