I finished my 30 days of vegan 2 days ago.
Was it difficult?
Honestly, no. As mentioned in my original post declaring my 30 days of vegan challenge, I was already pretty darn close to being a full-fledged vegan. As a reminder, the only animal products I had been consuming were
1. Dairy – Greek Yogurt
So, not too much to cut out.
I replaced the yogurt with coconut yogurt for my breakfast bowls in the morning. I’ve been using the unsweetened coconut yogurt by So Delicious and it is so delicious that I think I’ll continue to splurge on it…
For the eggs and fish, I replaced those quick & easy protein sources with another quick and easy food – lentils! Lentils are SO easy to make and I love that they can be seasoned any which way I please. My favorite method has been creating a broth with some seaweed – Kombu to be exact (wrote about this in the most recent post) – and then adding lots of curry spices, some fermented jalapeno vinegar from Costa Rica, some apple cider vinegar, cumin, black pepper, turmeric, rosemary at the very end and sliced beets. I also added mint leaves to one batch which was SO yummy. In general, I tend to add lots of ‘things’ to my cooking. I just get excited and can’t help myself.
The past 2 days I have continued to eat a vegan diet. This is only because I want to make sure I am 100% certain of how I want to eat on a day to day basis – what is best for me & my body and what is in line with my values.
However, I DO know that I will no longer be continuing a 100% vegan diet. Surprise!? I wasn’t sure when I started this 30 day run how I would feel at the end of it. Part of me figured I would latch on to the diet, like lots of friends told me they had, and just keep going with it. For me, though, it’s given me a wonderful opportunity to examine WHY I was eating the animal products I was eating. I’ve realized that most of my reasoning behind the animal product consumption was Protein. Quick & Simply & Easy. Hard Boiled eggs, a can of tuna.. Greek yogurt.
Now, though, I can’t even compare the tastes & flavors of my lentils OR homemade hummus to a stinkin’ (literally.. for most people) can of tuna on my salad. Sure, it takes more thought, but isn’t that part of mindful eating? Thinking about the food prep? Making thoughtful decisions about what you are about to eat?
Yet, I miss seafood. My mouth waters thinking about a filet of salmon .. or still the (not-cheap, dolphin safe, sustainably harvested) can of tuna. I just love fish! And other seafood for that matter.. which.. technically, some filter feeders ARE considered vegan!
I also miss an egg here and there! Not just hard boiled, but a nice, veggie-filled one-egg omelet.
Surprisingly, the food I thought I would miss the most.. I ended up missing the least! Sorry Greek yogurt.. but I think I’m sticking with my non-dairy So Delicious.
In conclusion (for now), here is what I plan on consuming, animal-product wise. These decisions have been based on how I choose to live, what I believe for me is healthiest, and what I believe regarding food & ethics, etc.
1. Eggs – ONLY locally produced. ONLY humanely treated, small-farm, etc. I live in a spot that allows me to find these outlets. I have just been too lazy to do so. Yes, they will be more expensive, but I don’t need to buy them all the time. But knowing exactly where the eggs are coming from .. hey maybe I’ll even meet the hens.. will feel like a much less abstract way of consuming them.
2. Fish/Seafood – ONLY sustainably harvested and ONLY on occasion. If I can get local (which shouldn’t be too difficult, considering I live on the ocean), even better. This means a can of tuna will now be a splurge for me – you’ve seen the Wild Harvest brands, right? Yes, the cans of tuna that cost almost 4 bucks a pop. Yep.. this is what I mean by occasional splurge. Still, I’ll feel much better about eating fish that I know was mindfully caught. I also will (after I research the different brands) buy different canned fish more often – ones that are caught in Maine and are species that are lower on the food chain. For example, wild kippers caught in Maine are a good substitute. I still have more research to do on that though.
I may start buying nicer cuts of fish from markets as well.. but we’ll see.
Another note about fish – many vegans will say that: “If you can’t imagine yourself killing the animal for food, then you shouldn’t eat it.” Meaning that one should not eat in a dissociated way. I’ve come to agree with this more & more, but will not be offering this opinion up at all dinner parties from here on out. I do not judge anyone for their food choices. For me, though, I know I can watch and be a part of the catching & cleaning of a fish. It helps that I have done multiple dissections in my lab classes/work, but I know that I would be 100% OK with gutting a fish if I had to at some point.
Side note here – Caleb, my wonderful boyfriend (who is not vegetarian .. or vegan) was given a fish that had been caught by a friend of his while ice fishing. This was during my 30 days of vegan. The fish needed to be cleaned, etc. So Caleb did it on our kitchen table. It was a bit icky, yes, but of course blood & guts will always be icky. But watching this happen and knowing that I would have been okay 1. doing it myself and 2. eating it (had I not been doing a 30 day vegan challenge) made me realize that fish was something that I would not be dissociated with while eating it.
3. Greek Yogurt – ONLY from local sources. Which means, as far as I know, It will be from Appleton Farms- they produce organic yogurt from their dairy cows. I can turn it into Greek style – yogurt by further straining it myself. Before being vegan, I was eating Cabot brand yogurt. Which felt OK, seeing as they are a New England based company. Still, it feels weird now to imagine going back to them. I honestly don’t know how they produce their dairy products. So while I can, I’ll stick to what I know about. AND like I said above, while I can, I’ll stick to the delicious coconut yogurt.
Now, I’m not going to be a dictator about any of this. Life happens and sometimes I won’t know where an egg I’m eating has come from, or I’ll be offered animal products (of the three listed.. I’m still going to try to stay away from other animal products) from someone else and I just don’t want to be that person to get all “is it local?/organic?/sustainable?” on the kind soul trying to feed me.
I’m not sure when or how I’ll ease back into these couple of specific animal products. I think it will start with finding local egg sources. Which will most likely involve a conversation or two with the farmer/store owner who is offering such products. I look forward to talking about the importance of eating local with these folks.
In general, though, I know I will be eating animal products even less-frequently than I was. Sprouted tofu in rice paper rolls and yummy lentils and/or hummus have been so much fun & flavor that I think I’ll continue making those my main protein sources for now. I mean, flavor has always been such an important part of eating for me and it seems funny to think about how I was consuming things like HB eggs and tuna so often.. SOLELY for their nutritional content and not really for their flavors.
Being vegan for 30+ days has been a lesson in mindful eating.
AND a reason to make all sorts of yummy vegan treats….
Now, on the flip side, another argument/discussion around food:
A customer who is familiar with mine and Hadley’s food adventures gave us a New York Times article to read about food. The article was titled
Shut Up and Eat – found in the NYT Food Edition Nov. 2014
To paraphrase, the author reminded us of a time when Food was just that – Food. Something to provide sustenance while also tasting good, while also providing culture and tradition. Today, it does those things and more. It describes the person who is eating the food. It is our political, ethical, general lifestyle choice(s). We are supposed to send signals to the market by spending our money on certain foods/products, which will in turn shift the industry into following practices that we agree with. We demand Local, Organic, Sustainable, Small Farm, CSA, Farmers Market. The author described that today, food is a reflection of the person we are trying to be, whereas in the past, it was a reflection of who we are, where we come from. And yet, the author admitted to being the local, organic, sustainable food buyer.
For me, trying my best to eat ethically and mindfully is going to make ME the happiest. Coming from a conservation background and continually acquiring a health&wellness background leads me to choose my foods in certain ways.
Food is a funny thing, isn’t it? It’s a big deal. It provides us with so many things. But I always need to remind myself of how LUCKY I am to be worrying about the nit-picky things that I worry about when it comes to food.
The food system is as complicated as human biology, in my opinion :). Variables, pressures, random events, .. they all go into what we eat, why we are able to eat those things, what we have access to, etc.
Well. That’s all for now, folks. Any thoughts on food? Being vegan? Recipe shares?
Peace & Food & Love
Gina & Hadley ❤