Guest blogger, Joanna, here.
I don’t think I’ll ever be totally vegetarian. I love seafood too much and I love tasting new and interesting foods.
However, I've wanted to add more vegan meals to my diet. I have a dairy sensitivity, I don’t digest meat terribly well, I should be eating more vegetables, and I hate the meat industry with a white hot passion. Yeah, I should be leaning more vegan.
Last month, The Physicians’ Committee for Responsible Medicine hosted a 21-Day Vegan Kickstart. I gave it a try.
The September 3rd official start date seemed a little funny to me. I guess since it was a holiday here in the States, it was chosen as a good starting point. Instead, I started on the first of the month.
The biggest change to my routine was my weekly visit to the local diner. I'm a regular now and the waitresses know my usual order: coffee, 2 eggs over-easy, home fries & rye toast. Oh, well. That had to stop for a bit.
Grocery shopping was a pain at first. I spent ages reading labels on the few processed foods I tend to buy. In some cases there were inexpensive vegan alternatives, in others, I decided to go without.
Over the course of the month I tried new things. I bought some nutritional yeast to add to things for flavoring. I pressed and scrambled tofu. I baked things without using eggs. It's been great.
All in all Vegan September was a success. Out of the whole month only a few days had non-vegan moments. (Oddly enough, I think they all involved pancakes in diners.) Dining out is pretty rough when it comes to chain restaurants. I had to rely on vegan message boards discussing fast food restaurants. Fortunately, in the age of smartphones, I had the internet in my pocket at all times.
I have several vegetarian friends, and one vegan friend that I see regularly. I received only support from them. Also, many of my friends have other sorts of food allergies and special diets. So happily, the people around me were supportive. Online, I know several vegans including a vegan cookbook author. Again, nothing but support from the internet.
Only one person has given me any flack. At first they were dismissive, but now they're more pitying. "I'm sorry you can't eat this", they said of a sandwich the other day.
"Why do you say that?" I asked. "It's my decision to not eat that."
I guess it's a defensive reaction, but I'm not certain why since I don't criticize their food choices. It's strange, especially since we have vegetarian friends that this person doesn't pity at all.
It's October now, and my official vegan experiment is over. I haven't had any stomach problems all month. This is a wonderful thing. I even lost a few pounds.
For the first of the month I went to the diner and had two eggs over-easy. When the plate was brought out I found myself indifferent to my breakfast. I ate the eggs but they weren't special, and I even felt a little guilty about eating them. I realized I would have been just as happy in the diner with half a grapefruit and home fries.
My diner experience was telling. I've decided I'm going to stick with veganism a bit longer. I don't think I'll be perfect, especially when dining out, but vegan meals at home are easy and fun to make. Especially now that my pantry has been veganized.
My beloved diner coffee. Thank you for being vegan. (Let's not think about organic quite yet.)